The Ultimate Back To School Checklist For Teachers

You know how much I love teaching, and getting to know a new class of little learners at the beginning of the new school year is definitely one of the highlights! Not to mention, setting up my new classroom in style. But, go find me a teacher who hasn’t lost a night (or two) worth of sleep before the first week of school…IYKYK.

The number one thing that’s helped me keep all my bases covered is a good old-fashioned list. So, to help you, I’ve put together this ultimate back to school checklist for teachers that will have you sleeping soundly before the big first day! 😴 

4 collaged images of my Visual timetable, binder covers, calendar displays and voice level resources in use.
Classroom management tools to add to your collection. Visual TimetablesBinder CoversCalendar Displays and Voice Levels

1. Take care of classroom admin

Starting with the important stuff, having your classroom admin prep done and dusted will get you off on the right foot to prepare for a new school year. I know, I know, we all want to plan teacher outfits, lanyards and stationery first (trust me, we’ll get there).

  • Go through your class list: Get to know your new students, find out about family dynamics, and keep a keen eye out for students with special needs. 

  • Set out your weekly timetable: It’s a good idea to try to keep it pretty light during the first few weeks, and to focus on activities that encourage everyone to get to know their classmates and you, before diving deep into the curriculum.

  • Determine class rules and homework expectations: Having clear rules in place from the beginning will set your new students up for success. I’ve got a whole heap of resources like Hand Signals, Voice Level Displays and Classroom Rules Posters to make this easy for you and your students!

  • Plan your first week: The first week in the classroom is all about getting to know each other, so prepare some exciting welcome games and icebreaker activities that will help everyone relax into their new learning environment.

4 collaged example images of the pastels, boho plants, Australiana and modern jungle decor themes
From Pastels and Boho Plants to Australiana and Modern Jungle, there’s a classroom theme for all styles.

2. Plan your classroom layout

A well planned classroom layout can make a world of difference into how well your students learn, enhance the feeling of a community and encourage active learning. Every classroom is different, so let your students and their individual needs guide you in designing a layout that works best.

  • Make your seating plan: Remember to leave room in your seating plan for students to be physically active and move around, and make sure there are some collaborative areas for group activities. 

  • Define your learning zones: Clearly designated learning areas will help create a productive classroom. If you’re looking for some inspiration, try including a library corner, space for collaboration and a designated area for independent work, maybe even an affirmation station to help inspire your students. One of my favorite zones to create is a calm corner to help your students learn to self-regulate and build coping skills in those (inevitable) moments of overwhelm. 

  • Plan your storage: Having a specific place for all your resources and other materials will make classroom jobs that much easier during the year. Teacher toolboxes, carts, book and storage tubs and tote trays are some of the must-haves in any classroom! You can find all my fave classroom storage solutions (plus loads more) on my Amazon storefront.

  • Set up a library and reading area: A well set-up reading nook straight from the get-go will encourage your students to pick up a book for some quiet reading time.

  • Displays: Plan on where to set your displays, like bulletin boards, visual timetables, affirmation stations and timely posters with your current learning themes.

a depiction of my Australiana Alphabet Posters, Spotty Boho Affirmation Station, Modern Jungle Binder Cover and Daisy Gingham Teacher Trolley Labels.

Shop the look: Australiana Alphabet Posters, Spotty Boho Affirmation Station, Modern Jungle Binder Cover and the Daisy Gingham Teacher Trolley Labels.

3. Now, the fun part – choosing your classroom decor!

Okay, call me biased… I truly believe choosing your classroom decor is the BEST part. But as beautiful as decor can make a room look, it can’t replace a well organized and carefully planned room (which is why we got through the details first!).  As a self-proclaimed classroom decor queen, I’ve made sure I’ve got enough options for you to find a theme that fits your vibe this year. Are you feeling Boho Rainbow, Modern Jungle, Australiana, or maybe Spotty Pastels or Ombre Neutrals? If you love Boho Vibes or Spotty Boho, then you’ll love the new Daisy Gingham theme.

a view of some of my classroom management tools
Shop my entire collection of classroom management tools.

Once you’ve picked a theme, it’s time to set up your classroom! Don’t forget to create:

  • Content-specific displays for Term 1 topics: Having these prepared beforehand will give you a head-start into the new year.

  • Desk name plates: Especially important in your first week!

  • Bulletin board: Why not include a little welcome message for your new learners?

  • Classroom rules display: There must be something about a pretty display that makes even sticking to the rules easier.

  • Labels for all your filing and organization needs: How good is starting your year knowing exactly where everything is!?

  • Birthday calendar: Having birthdays displayed brings a little bit of extra excitement and anticipation to your classroom. Plus its a cute personalized touch that shows you care.

  • Door display: The first peek into your classroom, and a welcome to everyone entering, make it count!

an assortment of handy "first day" templates and resources such as my First Day of School Signs, Affirmation Stations, Meet The Teacher Templates and Google Slides

Get your first day of school sorted with First Day of School Signs, Affirmation Stations, Meet The Teacher Templates and Google Slides available in every decor theme.

4. Preparing introductions to your students and their families

Your new batch of little learners and their families are just as excited to get to know you as you are them! Before everyone gets to know each other, it’s your time to tell your students all about you.

  • Meet the Teacher slides presentation: This will get you the chance to introduce yourself to your new class on the first day. 

  • Meet the Teacher page to send home: Don’t forget to create a little introduction to give to your students to give a first introduction to their families.

  • Prepare for Meet the Teacher evening: Make sure you’ve got everything you need to meet the families of your new class!

First day of school signs: These are a cute way to celebrate the day and make your students feel special.


5. Routines for professional wellbeing – aka taking care of yourself!

Last on the list, but high up on my priorities, is setting up a good system of routines and expectations for yourself. Creating a schedule just for you, and setting those professional boundaries will ensure you’re feeling your most calm and confident self.

  • Set and communicate boundaries: This can help with workload management and to stop work from creeping into your well deserved personal time. Making sure you can leave work on time, saying no to extra work when you already have a full schedule, or keeping meetings on time are some of the things to keep an eye on to help protect your free time.

  • Create a system for planning and marking: Remember that well planned is half done! I have many lesson plan templates to help you get organized if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

  • Find recipes for quick easy lunches: Meal and recipe prep is a game changer to make your week go smoothly. Batch making a few big dishes on Sunday can help you get started with your week. One of my favorite tips for a busy week ahead is to roast a whole heap of veggies at once, and then throw some into a salad or a sandwich during the week to make a super quick and easy weekday lunch!

  • Plan out your personal routine: The quality of your time off has a direct reflection on your time in the classroom - after all you can’t pour from an empty cup! Setting aside time for exercise, rest and social activities will help you take care of your work/life balance.

And that’s all! I told you I got your back: first day nerves, what are those? Having this list handy will make for one well prepared teacher, and even if you forgot something, believe me, no one will notice. 

You’ve got this, and know that I’ll be cheering you on for another amazing year!

Back to School: The ultimate back to school checklist for teachers - Miss Jacobs Little Learners

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