Updated: Jun 27
It can seem daunting when you are handed your class list for your new class and shown your new classroom. Preparing for your new class after the Summer break can seem like a mammoth task! But it doesn’t have to be!
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In this blog post, I summarise 10 things you should do before you head back to school after the Summer break. This list is in no particular order but I do hope you find these tips useful for getting yourself organised for the new school year.
Decorate your classroom
This is one of the things that takes the longest amount of time in my opinion when preparing for the new school year. When decorating your classroom, you may need to put up backing or display paper on all your display boards as well as any signage, labels, borders, etc that you need. You may want to put up other displays that you will use throughout the year to help with classroom organisation and routines such as calendars, class job charts, birthday displays, resource labels, etc. Check out my blog post How to Decorate My Classroom for some more ideas of the types of classroom décor items you may need. When decorating your classroom, it can be a good idea to choose a theme. This will ensure your classroom has a consistent, calming feel to it that is not over-stimulating for your kids. My pastel themed Classroom Decor pack is fantastic if you want to create this type of learning environment.
Plan your first week with your new class
This tip may seem kind of obvious but aim to have your first week with your new class all planned out. Obviously, you will plan what lessons/activities you are going to be doing with your new students but also allow time in your first week to establish and practise daily routines that you want your new class to use. These could be things such as lining up, introducing a seating plan, giving out classroom jobs etc. You may need to allow more time for things such as tidying up or transitioning around the school, at least at first until you and your new class get to know what to expect from each other. If you are still unsure about what to teach during the first week of school check out my blog post What to Teach the First Week of School? for some fantastic ideas! My Back to School Resource pack also includes a variety of Literacy, Math and Getting to Know You activities that are great for the first couple of weeks of school!
Decide on routines or expectations
Before your first week with your new class, ensure you have decided what routines and expectations you would like your class to follow. Will you have a system for going to the toilet? Will you have a seating plan? Keep in mind you may have to change your routines or expectations depending on how they work with your class. There is no right way to do this, it really depends on how you and your class work together. You may even want to have a few routines etc in mind, but you could always ask your new class if they have any suggestions too. To read more about classroom routines, head to my blog post “How Do Teachers Stay Organised?”
Ensure you have collected all the resources you need for your new class after the Summer break. You may be lucky and already have certain resources such as pencils, glue, scissors etc in your room for you. If not, make sure you allow some time before the first day to gather everything you need. You will also need to make sure you have the correct notebooks/workbooks/jotters that your kids will need to write in. Remember to allow time to write their names on these! A handy tip is to look at your plan for the first week of school and think about what resources you need for each lesson. This will mean you will at least be set for the first week and you can always collect the rest of your resources later!
Allow time before the first week of school to label everything. One of the most important things to label is your student’s coat pegs, shoe boxes, lockers, desks etc. This will mean your students will know exactly where to go and put all their belongings on the first day.
You can also spend some time labelling where resources go in your classroom. This means from day 1 your students will know where to find all the resources they need as well as where they have to be returned to when they are finished.
Set up your classroom
Setting up your classroom is another thing you will need to do before the first day of school. Consider how you are going to arrange your furniture. This will depend on the age and stage of your class. Your new classroom may mostly consist of desks or you may need to incorporate areas for play if your classroom is to facilitate play-based learning. Will you have areas such as a class library, art area or block area? You may want to think about including a calming, break out space for children to use if they become overwhelmed in the classroom environment. For more tips on how to set up your new classroom, you can check out my video or blog post Classroom Set up Tips here.
Test the technology in your new classroom
Before the first day of school put some time aside to test the technology that is in your new classroom. Make sure that you know how to use your new computer, laptop, interactive whiteboard etc and they are all working correctly. Do not forget to check the sound works! I have nearly been caught out with this myself and spent a few panicky minutes quickly fixing my classroom’s speaker while my new students were patiently waiting to watch a video!
Put together your Teacher Binder/Planning Folder
Putting together your Teacher Binder/Planning Folder is another important task you want to do before school starts. It won’t be long before you are being handed lots of pieces of paper with assessments, grades, medical information etc about your students and you will want a place to keep all this information safe that is also organised. I spend time creating different sections in my teacher folder ensuring they are all correctly labelled using dividers. This means I know exactly where everything is and I can find it all easily when I need it. You can read my blog post: What to Include in a Teacher Binder?, for more tips.
Organise your desk
Before school starts, spend some time organising your desk and workspace. Ensure you have all the things that you will be using on a regular basis to hand to save you hunting for them later. This is also a great opportunity to have a bit of a clear out. Try to keep your desk clutter-free as this will hopefully encourage your kids to keep the classroom tidy too. Having boxes/trays that are labelled with the days of the week is another great teacher organisation hack. Each week, when prepping your resources, store them in these labelled trays. This means each day all you need to do is grab everything out of that day’s tray and you are good to go.
Ensure you are aware of any allergies, medical needs etc of new students
Before the new school year starts it is important to familiarise yourself with any of your students who may have allergies, medical or learning needs. There may be routines or strategies that you will need to put in place on the first day to ensure these children’s needs are met. It is also a good idea to have a little chat with any children that may have these needs as this will ensure they feel supported and will soothe any worries they may have.