Top 11 Back to School Tips for Teachers
+ a BONUS LIST of 25 more!
From classroom management ideas, to decorations, to daily procedures, there’s so much for teachers to prepare for during Back-to-School time…the struggle is REAL. Whether you’re a rookie teacher or a veteran, it’s a good bet that right now you’re wondering how you’re going to get it all done by the time school starts!
Most teachers spend their time during those NEVER-ENDING pre-service week meetings making to-do lists and furiously counting the minutes until they can get back to their classrooms—to actually start on those lists. Does it sometimes seem like administrators have forgotten what it’s like to have to put together a classroom and curriculum materials in less than a week? Many times, teachers don’t even get a final roster until the MORNING of Day 1, so they’re unable to make up desk labels, files and seating charts—and any other needed labels until later in the very hectic week.
In hopes of taking SOME of your stress away, I’ve compiled a list of
10, (wait, make that 11!) stress-saving Back-to-School teacher tips. I’m certain that many of these will be a tremendous help to you! In addition to that, I’ve also put together a BONUS list of 25 more tips–as well as several other helpful teaching resources, just sign up for access here: FREE TEACHER RESOURCE library.
Now on to the tips…
1. Have a comprehensive list of ALL procedures, policies, rules and expectations ready to teach the first week. Include everything from how and when to sharpen a pencil, to bathroom trips, to absent/make-up work, to interruptions, respect for others, to storing lunches and backpacks. And…as you plan expectations for students, here’s something to help with preparing for your own upcoming Teacher Observation/Evaluation, here is teacher-approved resource that will help prepare you AND your class, for a successful & stress-free observation!
2. Have an (easy to grade) WRITTEN QUIZ on the above expectations ready for the end of the first week. This can even serve as the first grade for your gradebook. For secondary students, it’s wise to add a signature line on the rules, stating that they have been made aware of them and signed off that they will abide by them. While it’s fine to expect that younger kids will need lots of reminders, it’s important to hold older kids accountable because we are preparing them for jobs, college and beyond. As they grow older, they will need to remember what’s expected of them in order to succeed.
3. Research and SET UP from Day 1, a WHOLE group/class management system that uses rewards/incentives/privileges for students who are doing the RIGHT things. Some of the rewards should be for individuals and some need to be for the WHOLE class. If you have students who are really chatty, misbehave or disrupt, a student’s peers WILL make sure they improve their behavior—saving you from having to make constant corrections. The entire class will make sure each student behaves well, so that the WHOLE CLASS gets the rewards. (Game days, videos, podcasts, special treats, etc.)
4. The PAPER CHASE: Invest in some COLORED FOLDERS for keeping groups of student papers organized. Use color codes. The simplest is: GREEN (has been graded), RED (needs to be graded), YELLOW (grading in progress).
5. Decorate class bulletin boards once, with a paint color you like or one that goes with your yearly theme. Use latex paint in a color you love and even if you don’t have time to change these boards seasonally, they will still always look nice because of the color.
TAPE is your new BFF
6. If you are lucky enough to get a REAL ROSTER before school starts, use blue painter’s tape and sharpies to label each desk with your student’s names. Creating a seating chart from the very beginning will give you a sense of order and control—and give the kids a sense of security and belonging by seeing their names in print. Chances are you will have to make seating changes the first week, but at least you will be ahead of the curve with labeled desks and learning names.
7. Other GREAT USES for painter’s tape:
A. Use it to make boxes and dividers on your white board (i.e. Homework, Lesson goals, Schedules)
B. While putting lettering on a bulletin board, a great time-saver is to use the blue tape to line up ALL letters into place, where you want them. Then you can go back and staple them without having to start and stop after each letter is placed! PS- If you’re a true perfectionist you can even color the staples with a sharpie before you load them so that the silver staples won’t show!
8. Hot glue any FUN fabric you love to bulletin boards, doors, walls. At the end of the year it pops of with no damage! THINK: Joanne Fabrics, Walmart fabric department or any fun fabric shower curtains!
9. Use Velcro strips to put posters on the walls. It’s SO easy to remove and replace the next year! If you’re worried about doing any damage to the walls, you can even HOT GLUE the Velcro strips to the walls first. The glue blobs peel right off at the end of the year!
10. For groups of desks that you’ve arranged a certain way and you need THEM TO STAY TOGETHER, use a zip-tie around the legs to permanently avoid drifting—and spending time moving them back to the right spot…EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
11. Keep a clipboard or RED folder with emergency/drill instructions, campus map, class lists and student allergy/medical info that a Sub would need, right by the door or on the desk in a VERY obvious place for Subs to access.
And again, here is your access to the BONUS list of 25 more!
Here’s hoping you find this info useful—and most importantly, that you have a FABULOUS school year! I’d love to know about any great tips you may have, please share them in the comments below!