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  • Writer's pictureKristy Johnson

5 Tips for Pre-Planning and Back to School

Each year we think about what we did last year and how we can do it the same way, or, better yet, do it better! Now, we have all new students. New faces coming in to meet us soon. All new strengths and weaknesses for us to learn. New hobbies and dislikes we will soon hear about from our group of newbies. This should all be exciting! But, if you are anything like me, you are stressed, more than excited. Your classroom must be set up. You have no idea what your plans are for the first week of school. Here are my top FIVE tips for kicking off this school year and leaving your stresses behind!

1. Have a REALISTIC Plan on Paper

We are masters at lesson plans and following schedules when students are with us. Use this pre-planning time the same way you would use your time during the year. Write out your to-do list, and schedule priorities. Write down, and stick to, your hours. If you only want to be there from 8:00-3:00pm every day, then write the time you arrive and the time you will leave. It's been all summer since you've seen all your teacher friends and everyone wants to catch up. Plan for that, as you know it is going to happen. You know you and your team will be going out to lunch? Account for that. The meetings, training, and team building exercises are all dreaded, but we know we are expected to do them, so include them on your schedule.

2. Set Up Your Classroom LAST

I know, I know. This is your favorite part-decorating and getting everything perfect for your students to arrive. Therefore, use this end-game as your motivation to take shorter lunches and to spend less time chatting with coworkers in order to knock everything out to be able to make your classroom as plush as you want. But keep in mind, your students are more excited to meet you than they are to critique your classroom walls.

3. Don't Reinvent the Wheel

Have you heard this saying before? Yes, because there is truth to it! Use the layout you used last year, but add to it, tweak it to work for this incoming class. Don't try to create everything from scratch. My most popular resource is included in the Back to School Math Bundle. There are several back to school “Get to know you” resources in here that are sure to save you much valuable time.

4. Prioritize Your First Few Days

There is so much to plan for! You have 180ish day of school ahead of you. However, it’s not smart to try and focus on your entire year right now. During your pre-planning time, just focus on the first few days. Have your plan ready to go and the rest will fall into place. As the first day comes, you can then work on the 3rd day (or the day after you have planned). Here’s a little side story…

I have breast fed both of my children. Therefore, when they are at daycare, they need bottles of milk in order to eat. Originally, I thought I needed breastmilk for every single day they were going to be away from me. That I would have to produce enough milk ahead of time in order to send all the milk before they even started going there. However, I found this was simply not the case. I only have to have a few days ready to go, because I am still producing milk and having to pump when they are away from me. Which will fill the bottles for the following days.

Now you're probably thinking, "What on Earth does that have to do with teaching?" Well, your ideas and plans are still coming to you on the days you have planned, regarding the days you still need to plan. So, have a few days ready to go and then worry about planning the rest of them as they come. Starting a new year is a challenge in itself, so be ahead of the game with a few days of planning, but not stressed when learning a brand new group of students’ names, personalities, and families.

5. Get 'em In, Get 'em Fed, Get 'em Home

For the first day of school, the most important THREE things I focus on are getting them into my classroom, getting them fed lunch, and getting them home correctly. Anything aside from these priorities are are not important. If this day goes as planned with these three priorities, consider it a huge win! I use this FREE Game Day Meet the Teacher Packet in order to gather all of the student information for the first day. Transportation is at the top of my list. Then, once students come in and are settled, I use this Back to School Math Packet to give the students something to do while I get my transportation list together and anything else I MUST DO first thing. This allows me to knock it out early in the day.

What is your favorite thing about pre-planning? Tell me in the comments below!
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