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15 Things to Do Before School Starts

Have you started thinking about going back to school, yet?  Maybe you still have plenty of time or your first day may be near.  No matter when you start back, there will ALWAYS be things that you have to do before the first day.  Even though I have had MANY “first days of school,” I still question myself about whether or not I got everything done.  Going back to school is exciting, but definitely stressful!

15 Things to Do Before School Starts - A Teacher Checklist

Here are some ideas for things that need to be done before the first day of school.


1. Reflect on your classroom procedures, layout, and lessons.

This is a great time to really think about what worked and what did not work for you during the previous school year.  Make a list of things that you want to change or things that did not go as you had planned.

2.  Browse Pinterest, teaching catalogs, blogs, etc. and start getting some fresh ideas that you may want to try this school year.

REMEMBER that you cannot do it all!  It is VERY easy to get overwhelmed by looking at all of the ideas on the Internet.  Look back at your list of things that you wanted to change about your classroom.  Use this list as a guide to find new ideas.  Pick 2-3 things to try.  You can ALWAYS add more later, but you do not want to add even more stress to the beginning of the school year.

3.  Order any supplies that will need to be shipped.

If you have any bigger classroom supplies (furniture, curriculum, etc.) that has a longer shipping time, make sure that you order it in advance.  Amazon Prime has my back most of the time, but there are definitely some items that need more shipping time.

4.  Read a professional development book.

Every summer, I try to read 1-2 PD books that interest me.  This year I read Shifting the Balance by Jan Burkins and Kari Yates and A Fresh Look at Phonics by Wiley Blevins.  (I highly recommend both.)

5. Write a Donors Choose project.

This is the perfect time to create a Donors Choose project for supplies that you may want for your classroom.  (Scholastics News magazines, books, classroom furniture, technology, …)


6. Set up your classroom.

This is definitely one of the most time consuming parts of a new school year.  This is the time when you will want to arrange your furniture, put up bulletin boards, set up your classroom library, and so on and so on.  REMEMBER that you do NOT need to fill all of the wall space.  I love to have some blank bulletin boards in my classroom to start the year.  Student work will eventually fill up those spaces, but I do not feel the need to have anything up on them before the first day of school.

7.  Buy school supplies.

This is the perfect time to buy school supplies.  All of the stores have major sales in the weeks prior to school starting.  I highly recommend getting extras now.  If you wait until January to buy more crayons, they will not be as cheap. (Check out this post about Supplies that I Can’t Live Without.)

8.  Start making copies.

I ALWAYS make sure that I have all of my copies done for at least the first week of school.  I also make sure that I over plan, even if almost every year, I don’t get everything done that was in my plans to begin with.  With each new group of kids, you never know how quickly they may be able to work through things, and idle 6-7 year olds never ends well.

*Need your plans done for you?  Check out The First Week of First Grade.

9. Prepare for Open House/Parent Night

If you have an Open House or Parent Night before school starts, this is a great time to start prepping for it.  I like to prepare a folder for each student with parent forms, a welcome letter, supply lists, etc.  This way, if a parent is unable to attend, I can send home the folder on the first day of school.

10.  Get organized.

Once school starts, it is much harder to organize your classroom.  Take the time to throw things out that you don’t need, sort through books, make sure your emergency sub plans are ready, etc.


11.  Finalize lesson plans and copies.

Make sure that your lesson plans, for at least the first week, are complete and you have ALL of the materials ready to go.  Also make sure to have a couple extra copies of any back to school forms that you may need for last minute adds to your class list.

12.  Check your technology.

Double check to make sure that any technology that you will be using during that first week is working.  If you do any type of Meet the Teacher Slide Show on the first day, run through that and make sure that it actually works.

13. Start labeling…with caution.

I am always cautious with labeling things too early.  Even though I have a class list, that ALWAYS seems to change up until the first week of school.  I actually just place a Post-It note with each students’ name on their name tags until I see their body in their seats.  This way I am not wasting any expensive name tags 😉

14. Get things ready at home.

I know that I am always absolutely exhausted that first week of school.  I like to make sure that I have dinner planned for that first week, whether it is Hello Fresh or making or ordering premade meals.  I also make sure that I do a big grocery run and that I have items for lunches.

15.  Take some time to do something for yourself!

Things are going to get BUSY!  Do something for yourself before the chaos of back to school hits.  Get your nails done, get a massage, read a book for enjoyment, sleep in…whatever makes you happy.

Download the checklist below by clicking on the picture.

A Back to School Checklist for teachers to help them prepare for the new school year.


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