The beginning of the new school year can be exciting and stressful for teachers and students.

From arranging classroom furniture to consolidating reading lists, there is plenty to get on with after the summer break. Indeed, with so much to think about, it can be easy for teachers to forget to complete essential tasks, regardless of how much experience they have.

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So, what is the back-to-school checklist for teachers?

To ensure that both you and your pupils start the year on the right foot, we’ve put together a helpful checklist of tasks for teachers. Remember, however, that this list is not comprehensive. Some of the tasks may not seem particularly relevant to your situation, and you may think of certain tasks we have missed. In this way, it is a good idea to draw up your checklist using these notes as a guideline, ticking them off as you go along:

1. Is the classroom ready for learning?

A thoughtfully arranged classroom will facilitate learning and encourage students to get involved in fruitful discussions with their classmates. To foster this kind of environment, you need to consider how the desks will be arranged, where you will display work by students, where to display books, and where to place important announcements.

If you’re interested in sparking group discussions, you should consider arranging desks into clusters. This will encourage productive conversations and help students bond. At the same time, you need to consider whether students can see announcements or whiteboard notes from where they are sitting. Try to make sure that these notes are placed somewhere visible from most areas of the classroom. Finally, displaying books and examples of student work is a great way to foster a desire to learn and flourish in the classroom. Try to spread them across the walls of the room.

2. Get to know any new technologies you may be required to use

Suppose your school has implemented new education technology (sometimes called EdTech) over the summer holidays. In that case, you must get to grips with them as soon as possible. This could include interactive teaching software or equipment for pupils with special needs. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask a colleague with the relevant know-how to offer guidance.

To learn more about how technology is transforming the lives of teachers, check out this fascinating article.

3. Come up with some original ice-breaker activities

If you are starting the year with fresh faces in the classroom, you will need to devise a few ice-breaker activities. Rather than simply asking them questions about their favorite color or what they got up to over the summer break, try organizing a few collaborative games to encourage team-building. This helpful list is a great place to start if you need a little inspiration.

4. Create name tags for pupils

Learning your students’ names early on is vital to maintain authority and build a solid rapport with them. Buying a few name tags will help you to do this in no time.

5. Set out the rules

Defining classroom rules early on is essential to foster a calm and orderly environment. To ensure students are well aware of the rules and the consequences of breaking them, spend around 10 minutes during the first lesson explaining how you expect pupils to behave. It may also be useful to define your rules on a poster that can stay in the classroom all year round.

Of course, your rules should be appropriate for the age group you are teaching. Reading out a list of kindergarten rules to teenagers will make your students feel patronized or even disrespected. If you’re unsure of the kinds of rules, you should be spelling them out. This resource may prove useful.

6. Purchase a lesson planner and any other necessary stationery

If you’re a stationery fan (who isn’t?), the beginning of the academic year is a great time to stock up. A crisp new lesson planner will help you to feel ready to take on your new classes. A few new pens or pencils will not go amiss either!

7. Make sure school supplies are well-organized

Every classroom needs an array of workbooks, pens, textbooks, and learning equipment. However, as any teacher knows, keeping these items neatly stored cannot be easy. To ensure the classroom stays neat all year round, take a leaf out of Marie Kondo’s book. This means ridding the room of supplies past their best and storing the remaining items in neatly labeled drawers and boxes. It may take a few hours, but you will thank yourself later in the year.

8. Dig out old resources that may be useful

If the new year’s syllabus is similar to any previous years, make sure you find any old lesson plans or worksheets early on. This will save time in the long run and lower your stress levels.

9. Provide students with a general overview of the year

Your pupils will be eager to know what they will be learning over the year, so it is a good idea to provide them with a handout detailing the topics they will cover and the kind of learning outcomes you expect.