It is always hard to go back to school in the fall. Especially with the idea of lesson planning looming over your head. After sitting on the beach, enjoying some quality family time and recharging those batteries… the last thing you want to stress about is going back to school. So don’t. Plan now to make going back to school easier! Here are a few tips with some free printables to make the back to school prep a whole lot less stressful! (This post contains affiliate links.)
Prep Common Items:
First off, prep the things now that you know you are going to use next year. Things like your name sticks, nameplates for desk (without names), hallway bulletin board display for B2S, locker tags, cubby numbers, etc. All of these items can be prepped and placed in a box. That way, you can easily pull them out without having to dig through your massive stacks of supplies.
Back to School Envelopes:
At back to school night, I give all of my families an envelope full of classroom paperwork, photo permission forms, classroom info flip books and more. These envelopes are placed on my bookshelf right by the door. As parents file in, they grab their folder and head to their child’s spot in the classroom. None of the paperwork in the folder needs to be completed that night, so I add a little label to the front to explain the contents and parents can look through it later.
One of the things I include in this envelope is my photo release. I always ask my parents permission to use photos of their child at the beginning of the year. I think about all the ways their photos might be used and add a little description by each thing on the form. That way, parents can really decide how/if they want their child’s photo to be used.
You can grab this free editable Photo Permission Slip by clicking here.
Another thing that I always include in the envelopes are these handy flip books. My parents love them and I love that I can share lots of information in a convenient way!
I use a template from Chalk and Apples to customize it to fit our classroom and share all the important details with my parents. You can find the product here.
First Day/Week Lessons:
This is the part of back to school prep that I absolutely despise. In the spring, I spend a few hours prepping for the first day (if I am really motivated, the first week) of school. I make copies of activities and projects that I know I will be using. One of our first stories that we read is Because of Winn-Dixie. We have some fun activities that we do that go along with that book so I get those all ready. We also make a fun back to school All About Me poster. Those go in the tub too! Basically anything I can copy and get ready goes in the tub. That way, it is so much easier to pull it all out and not have to go on a file search during those precious back to school inservice hours.
If you have to pack up your classroom at the end of the year. This section is just for you. If not… skip to the next section. 🙂 Thought I would save you some reading time…
In the last three years, I have had to pack up my classroom three times! I have been with the same district but moved classrooms once, construction once and now this year new flooring. That is a whole lot of packing so I pretty much have it down to a science.
When thinking about how you start to pack your room, first focus on how you are going to UNPACK in the fall. I always start with my cabinets and then move to the shelving in my classroom. Only put like items together in a box. It is okay if there is a little bit of leftover space in each box… do not be tempted to just cram things in!
For example, only box up math materials with math materials. Don’t stick random guided reading tools in with your math text books. It will make a pain to unpack it all that way. When you go to unpack your classroom in the fall. Unbox one box at a time. PUT IT AWAY before opening the next box. It can be very tempting to just rip in and spread things out everywhere… but resist the urge!
Label ALL of your boxes with your name, room number and what items are in the box. I have used a neon colored paper the last three years to label my boxes. I stick to the same color so if someone sees a box laying around, they know it belongs to me because it has a ginormous bright green label! Works like a charm
Clean It Up Now:
Clean as much of your classroom as you can this spring. Have students help wipe out book bins or their reading tubs. They can clean their desks/tables as well as their chairs. I have students help me wipe down all of our individual whiteboards too! They love helping during the last week of school. I pull out the wipes, paper towels, buckets with soapy water, mini-brooms and let them go to town! Last year my students took EVERY SINGLE THING off of our classroom shelves and wiped them all down. A few of my boys even came in early one morning to wash all of our book boxes in the sink! When it came time for me to pack everything up, it was so easy. I didn’t have to worry about dusty or dirty shelves! Nice.
Condense or Give Away:
We are natural born hoarders. You never know when you might need that one paper plate… for that one lesson… that one year. Okay, maybe not that extreme but you know what I am talking about. When I started teaching I inherited a bunch of leftover materials. I am so thankful that the teacher left items for me, but I haven’t used 85% of it. So why hold on to this stuff?? That is crazy! Clean out your cupboards and drawers and honestly think about if you have used those items. If you haven’t get rid of it!
As far as the condensing goes… this is usually a bit easier to do. Try to put like materials together. Don’t have markers in three or four different places. Condense them down and put them all in one place. You will free up so much space in your classroom… I promise!
Beginning of the Year Goodies:
One of my favorite things to prep is my goodies that I give to my students at the beginning of the year. I love handing out these glow bracelets. They love grabbing one during Back to School Night and they are so easy to put together (as well as cheap… bonus)! I put all of these items together (and even have students help sometimes) at the end of the year. I stick them all in a box and then put it with my back to school materials. Boom. Done.
I might switch it up this year and hand out these adorable bubble tags. I have seen the 6-pack of bubbles at various stores for under $3! That is a great deal.