7 Tricks to Avoid Feeling Unprepared for a New School Year

With a new school year swiftly approaching, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done in preparation. There is a mile-long list of to-do's, new students, lessons to plan, a classroom to prep and so much more. It is easy to get lost in the day to day and start to feel unprepared as the first day of school approaches.  Don't worry! I have some great time saving, preparation tips, and tricks to help you feel on top of your teacher game and get ahead so you can start the new year with ease and excitement! 

tips and tricks to avoid feeling unprepared for back to school

1. Take the Time to Get Organized

organize classroom supplies so they are easy to findOne of the best things you can do to avoid feeling unprepared for the school year is to set aside some time to organize your classroom.  There is nothing that makes you feel more unprepared than wasting time looking for something.

Spend a couple hours or a couple days, whatever is needed, to organize your classroom and supplies.  Try to keep like items together so that you always know where to go when you need something.  I like to organize my cabinets by topic.  Art supplies in one cabinet and math games in another.  Then label things so you can quickly find what you need.  When everything has a designated storage space finding and using supplies is a snap!  

It might feel like this is using time you need to prepare, but I promise it will pay off in the long run.  If you don't have time to organize everything, start with the areas or supplies you use the most often.  Then set a goal of organizing one cabinet a month until the rest of the room is done.

2. Set Up a Bulletin Board for Student Work

Displaying student work in the classroom is a wonderful way to build classroom community and help students feel connected to the classroom.  But when the school year hasn't started this can be difficult.  However, there's no need to wait for the first assignments to be finished. Setting up a bulletin board for student work is a great way to help get your classroom set-up without the need for a full bulletin board display.  And . . . your students will be excited knowing that there is a dedicated space for showing off their work. 

Before the year begins, choose your student work display area.  Then decide how you would like to display it.  I like an option that makes it quick and easy to change out work all year long.  So I tend to go for a hanging option that uses clothes pins, binder clips or even clipboards!  No need for the time consuming process of removing staples!

Create a bulletin board to display student work

You can quickly set up your board by giving each student a dedicated space.  Using a piece of construction paper, scrapbook paper, or something else makes it really easy to define the space for each student.  If you already know student names you can add those too.  If not, allowing students to write or decorate their own names makes a great first day of school activity.  Then add a title to your board and you are ready to go.  If it feels incomplete, just add a page that says "WOW Work coming soon!" to each area.  

Then all you have to do is wait!  During those first days of school choose an activity to put on display and your board will be complete.  And . . . you can quickly update it all year long without having to redo the entire board!  That's a time saving win for sure!

3. Find a Creative Back to School Craft

Start the year off with an engaging craft and writing project.  Not only will students love this activity, but you can quickly get an idea of their writing and fine motor skills.  And . . . when the project is completed you have a great piece of student work to add to your bulletin board! 

Back to school craft and writing activities can be used to engage students in the first days and help you avoid feeling unprepared.There are tons of projects to get them thinking about the new school year and what they want to learn and achieve.  I really love these Adventure Kids because it puts such a positive spin on the year ahead.  Who doesn't love a good adventure!

Choose your activity and get all the pages copied, get the templates ready or copied, copy onto colored paper or grab the construction paper you need, and pull together any other supplies, like googly eyes.  Then when you are ready to use the activity you will have everything you need all in once place.  This is enough to make any teacher take a deep breath and smile.  In those hectic first days, having a go to activity is a great way to avoid feeling unprepared.

Try out this cute Back to School Safari craft and Memory Book. This activity is a writing activity that lets students create their own safari character and write a little about themselves and their hopes for the new school year! These will make cute pin-ups for your back-to-school bulletin board! It includes an interactive memory book, safari kid craft, 5 writing prompts, and a bonus of 2 end-of-year writing prompts!

4. First Week of School Work

Back to School Worksheets are a great way to review and teach procedures in the classroom.The first week of school can be hectic for both teachers and students.  Getting familiar with a new classroom, classmates and grade can be overwhelming.  Instead of jumping right into academics, start with some review.  Not only will this help you see what your students remember from the previous year, but it will give students opportunity to start the year with success! 

Having these activities copied and ready to go for the first week will take a big load off your plate in those first days.  If you are worried that review activities are not enough, then make sure to focus on all the other things your students will be learning while they do them.  These activities are great for teaching and practicing classroom procedures.  By the end of the week you will have a good sense for where your students are, and they will have a good sense for how things will be done during the year.

This Beginning of the Year Bundle is a wonderful resource that is packed with math, writing and literacy worksheets all ready to go! All you need to do is copy them and set them aside for the first week.  Then take a deep breath and smile.  One more thing is done!

5. Plan Fun Activities for Building Relationships

At the beginning of each new school year, it is important to plan activities to help students get to know one another.  Students can be shy and nervous about their new class on the first day of school so it is a great idea to break the ice and learn all about each other. These first days also lay the foundation for building a strong sense of community in the classroom too!

help students build relationships by building in ice breakers and community building activities during the first weeks of school
There are lots of games and activities that make it fun to get to know new friends.   Create a question ball using a blow-up beach ball and a sharpie marker.  Write get-to-know-you questions all over the ball.  Make some expected and some a little silly.  That's it - you are ready for your first ice breaker.  And as a bonus, you can use the same ball year after year!  On the first day of school have the class sit in a circle.  Gently toss the ball to a student.  They should catch the ball with 2 hands.  Students will then answer the question between their two thumbs. 

Help students find common interests with this movement activity.  Ask a question that has 2 answer choices.  Students will move to one side of the classroom if they like answer A or the other side for answer B.  It's a great way to add some movement and help students see all the things they have in common with their new classmates.  Don't worry about thinking up a bunch of questions.  If you go a quick search for Would You Rather questions for kids, you will find lots of questions already done!  Print off a page or two of questions and you are ready to go.  

Interested in adding more ice breaker and bonding activities into your first week?  These ideas from Activity Village are great for kids!  Try a mix of movement activities and some quieter options for a fun filled first week of community building.  

6. Prepare a Power Point for Back to School Night

As you are thinking through and setting your class schedule and procedures, why not create your Meet the Teacher or Back to School presentation at the same time.  Since your brain is already focused on these things you will be able to quickly and easily fill in the pertinent information.  Then, when your Back to School night with parents rolls around you will be ready to go.  A quick check will allow you to make any tweaks or changes without spending a lot of time getting ready.  Trust me . . . you will have plenty of other things to do before that night!

Plan ahead and prepare your back to school night presentation in advance
These slides can be running constantly throughout the night while parents and students come in and out to meet you and check out their new classroom. The slides are great for both parents and students and can provide some key information before the first day of school. You can add slides with important dates, classroom rules and expectations, an introductory slide all about you, and any other slides you feel appropriate for your class. PowerPoints are simple and easy to put together but will give you a leg up on the first day of school! 

Grab a pre-made Back to School presentation and save even more time.  I have put together my favorite Back to School presentation slides in an editable form.  All you need to do is fill in your information.  Just find the presentation you like best or that matches your class theme and get started!  Your students will love the colors and pictures and their parents will leave confidently knowing an organized teacher is taking care of their child.

7. Take a Day Off

after all the classroom setup and prep for the new year take a day off and rest
If you are like most teachers, you put in countless hours of work getting ready to kick off a new school year.  All of that can leave you feeling drained before you ever begin.  A tired and drained teacher on the first day of school is not good for anyone.  Make yourself a priority in those last days before school starts.  Take at least one day, if not a weekend, off and do nothing school related.  That last push of rest, family time and fun will having you starting school fresh!

Rock Back to School with Confidence

Back to school doesn't always have to be the most hectic and chaotic time of year.   With these tips and tricks, and a little prep work, you can have a smooth and easy transition into your new school.  Let's bring back the excitement and joy of back to school time and put away all the stress and overwhelm. Here's to an amazing new school year!

Save These Back to School Ideas!

Pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back to these back to school tips and tricks when you are ready for them!


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