Back To School Checklist

We’re at the start of August which means it will be the start of the school year before you know it. With so much to keep track of, it can be hard to ensure you’ve completed everything you need to for your new students. This checklist will help you out.

  1. Asses your classroom and decide what you want your learning environment to be like. No teacher is going to forget that they need to set up their classroom, but before you start arranging desks consider what you want your learning environment to be like. How will desks be arranged so that class and group discussions will be easy? Where will you keep learning materials that ensure your classroom has an easy, convenient flow? Is the lighting in your classroom sufficient? Do you have enough space for student work and storage? You can always change up your classroom later, but putting a lot of thought into your classroom setup before you start can save you a lot of time down the road.
  2. Create a system for turning in work and for absent students. Collecting homework and assignments every day takes up a lot of time. Instead, come up with a system that you can implement from day one that teaches your students responsibility. Have an area set aside for turning in both homework and regular assignments. You should also create some type of absent student binder so instead of needing to explain what your student misses each time they are absent, they can head to the binder to get their assignments, see what readings were done, and more. You may also choose to assign students note buddies, so students can ask specific students for notes they missed due to being absent.
  3. Have efficient storage methods in place. This extends far beyond storing classroom supplies and materials. You need to have an excellent filing system for student work, parental forms, administrative papers, and more. You’ll also want somewhere secure to keep the papers that need to be kept from prying eyes. A locking cabinet is great for this, but if this isn’t feasible make sure to keep them somewhere out of sight, and somewhere students will not go, such as somewhere in your desk or right behind it.
  4. Be sure you have a strategy for communicating with parents. Communication with the family of your students is something that often falls by the wayside. Don’t let yourself rely only on parent-teacher conferences. The more a parent is involved in their child’s education, the better that child is likely to do. First off, you’ll want to send home a welcome letter. This letter should offer an introduction to your class, what the students will be learning during the year, volunteer information, and contact information. You may choose to meet parents before school starts. Most importantly, maintain contact with the parents. Give them regular progress updates. Let them know about volunteer opportunities with the school and in the classroom. Make sure the parents know they can always contact you with questions or concerns.
  5. Have a rule policy in place and establish it from day one. You don’t want an excessively long list of rules, just simple basics that are fair, with fair punishments. Post these classroom rules somewhere in the classroom where they are easy to see. Send a copy of the rules to the parents, and make sure you tell students how rules will be enforced. Whether you have a three strike policy, different enforcement policies for different rules, or something else, students need to understand the consequences. They also need to understand why the rules are important, so explain why you have made these rules in the classroom.
  6. Decide how you will assess your students’ skills. It’s easy to create your lesson plans and expect students to do the work, but some students may be behind the rest of the class. They may require extra help. When you establish this at the start of the school year, you can figure out how to best accommodate those needs. You can do this with small ungraded tests, essays, or even just by student surveys.
  7. Pick your icebreaker activities for the first day. And make sure to take care when making your selections. Many students find these activities to be more irritating than fun, so give it a creative spin! Find something new that your students haven’t done before!
  8. Icebreakers aren’t enough, so develop a strategy to build a connected classroom. This is not only to connect students to each other, but to the classroom and the school at large. How you do this is up to you, but make sure you have a plan in place to make your classroom feel like a safe place.
  9. Have a plan for accommodating various student needs. For your classroom to feel safe, all your students need to feel comfortable. Each student will learn better in different ways and face different challenges. Incorporate different learning styles into your lessons. Use lectures, visuals, and active learning. Watch your students to see what works and what doesn’t. If you have students with learning disabilities or students with limited English skills, work with them. This will help all of your students succeed.
  10. Think about your development as a teacher. It is easy to stick to your usual teaching routines, but part of being a good teacher means to constantly keep learning yourself and making adjustments. What worked and didn’t work last year? What changes can you make to help your students do better? What things have students expressed don’t work. If you aren’t up-to-date, be sure to look into the latest education news. You must evolve as the world does, so you can prepare your students for the real world.

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