Preparing your classroom for the new school year can feel overwhelming even to veteran teachers. There is much to do in a short amount of time and some of it is easy to forget. Staying organized and on top of essential tasks can help alleviate some of this stress and ensure that you are prepared when your students walk through that door for the first time. Use this checklist as a guide and take it one step at a time. You might even choose to print off this list and cross off tasks as you go.
Back to School Checklist
- Clearly label all shelves, cubbies, and activity areas.
- Organize the classroom library. This can be done alphabetically, by genre, or both (refrain from organizing by reading level).
- Prepare systems for storing and collecting homework and other paperwork.
- Determine desk arrangement and preliminary seating chart. Consider implementing flexible seating.
- Organize all curriculum materials based on when you will need them.
- Draft student work groups based on testing data and anecdotal notes from previous teachers.
- Set up learning centers with supplies in place.
- Order class supplies such as colored pencils, glue sticks, math manipulatives, and so on.
- Gather tissues, band-aids, cleaning supplies, and other daily essentials.
- Purchase materials to keep yourself organized such as a planner, calendar, and lesson plan organizer.
- Prepare a folder for information from faculty meetings and professional development.
- Familiarize yourself with classroom technology and consult with other staff about how to solve problems students might encounter.
- Develop a system of rules and procedures then post these somewhere in the classroom. Create a classroom agreement for students and families to sign.
- Decide if you would like your students to help create rules. If so, determine how you will work together to come up with these.
- Create a homework system for how often you will send homework, what type of homework you will give, and what will happen if a student doesn't complete it.
- Decide how you will structure each week based on your specials schedule and lunch/recess times.
- Create a set of classroom jobs. Decide how these will be rotated.
- Post emergency evacuation procedures and familiarize yourself with all emergency exits.
- Stock and place your class first aid kit. It should be easy for you to grab in times of emergency.
- Plan ahead for last-minute changes by developing a substitute folder.
- Print emergency contact forms.
Communicating with Families
- Send a welcome letter to families. This can either be paper or electronic.
- Create name tags for students, desks, and other organizational charts (i.e. a lunch tag system).
- Create the first newsletter to send home, if you plan to write weekly newsletters.
- Set up a class webpage to keep announcements, deadlines, and learning goals all in one place. Update regularly as the year progresses.
- Prepare planning sheets to give to families before parent-teacher conferences with discussion points such as student academic strengths and areas for growth, personality traits, goals for the year, and so on.
- Develop a system of sending home individual progress reports for students. Some teachers do these weekly while others do them monthly. Keep families in the loop about academic goals, learning developments, and behavior.
- Order individual student supplies such as folders, notebooks, and pencils. Label with their names.
- Label take-home folders to send with students and fill them with any paperwork to be returned.
- Create an inventory checklist for students to record everything brought from home and everything given to them at school. Have students keep these in their cubbies or bins so that they know when something has gone missing.
- Decide how to welcome students and introduce them to the classroom.
- Choose icebreaker activities for the first few days.
- Plan other activities and lessons for the first week of school, some academic and some just to build your classroom culture.
- If you choose to take pictures of students, prepare a camera for doing this.
- Make copies of all curriculum materials and handouts as far in advance as possible.
- Decorate bulletin boards and hang useful anchor charts and posters.
- Decorate outside of your classroom (front door, hallway, etc.).
- Set up a classroom calendar.
- Create a birthday chart.