A Back-to-School Checklist for Busy Teachers

Teacher with a checklist
Teacher with a checklist.

Completing this list should put you where you need to be when school starts!

It’s that time again! Are you ready for the new school year? There’s a lot of work to do both inside and outside of the classroom before our students arrive. To help alleviate some of the stress and keep you on track before the school year begins, I’ve put together an easy-to-follow back-to-school checklist.

  • Set Up the Classroom Environment

    The key to any successful classroom is building a positive learning environment where all students thrive. To set yourself up for success, set up your classroom in a way that’s neat and filled with all the items you and your students need on a daily basis.

    • Determine your desk and seating arrangement.
    • Arrange the classroom furniture.
    • Strategically place your desk so you can see everything.
    • Organize the classroom library and seating area.
    • Create interactive bulletin boards and learning centers.
    • Prominently display the emergency evacuation procedure.
    • Check classroom technology and other equipment.
    • Laminate and hang classroom posters and displays.
    • Decorate your front door entrance.
    • Post student schedule, calendar, lunch menu, and announcements.
  • Get a Head Start on Classroom Organization

    When your classroom is efficient and organized, it will run more smoothly. Both you and your students should have easy access to teaching and learning materials, without having to sift through messy areas and disorganized shelves.

    • Gather and organize classroom materials and supplies.
    • Prepare student name tags and/or student desk plates.
    • Organize your files.
    • Label all furniture in the classroom.
    • Create an emergency substitute folder.
    • Label textbooks, workbooks, and supplies.
    • Set up your grade book.
    • Label books in the classroom library.
    • Organize your desk.
  • Prepare Your Classroom Rules and Routines

    An essential component of your classroom management plan is to have a clear set of rules and routines for students to follow daily. Rules set the stage for expectations related to behavior and performance, and routines help everyone stay on track.

    • Create a list of rules and consequences, and post them.
    • Determine a few signals to capture students’ attention.
    • Create a morning routine (morning meeting, seat work, etc.).
    • Create a dismissal routine (cleaning up, putting away supplies, etc.).
    • Create a routine for attendance, lunch, restroom breaks, walking in the hallway, etc.
    • Create a homework policy and post it.
    • Create a system for students to follow to hand in homework, classwork, etc.
    • Determine a routine for when students are absent from class.
    • Determine student responsibilities and duties (classroom jobs, etc.).
    • Determine how you’ll transition students and what they’ll do when their work is completed.
  • Miscellaneous First-Week Prep

    The first week of school can be hectic. If you plan accordingly, you can set the tone for the rest of the school year. These tips will help you plan for all the incidentals that arise on week one.

    • Create a student/parent welcome letter to send home.
    • Create a classroom website, newsletter, and/or get your communication app ready to go.
    • Organize your emergency contact forms.
    • Prepare classroom icebreaker activities.
    • Make all copies for the entire week.
    • Have time-filler activities ready to go.
    • Read through student files to get to know them better.
    • Create volunteer sign-up sheets.
    • Gather back-to-school night materials.
    • Create lessons and activities to fill each day for the week.
  • Final Day-Before-School Prep

    The big day is nearly here. To make sure you’re successful, here are a few last-minute suggestions for your back-to-school checklist.

    • Pick out your clothes and make your lunch so you don’t have to rush in the morning.
    • Review your rules, routines, student names, school policies, getting-to-know-you activities, etc.
    • Make sure you have a dynamic first-day lesson ready.
    • Set your alarm so you won’t be late.
    • Get a good night’s sleep! Everything will go just fine.