Prepping for Back to School

As the new school year approaches, the mind starts to think about things like classroom set up, open house ideas, new systems to put into place, ways to improve classroom management, and that first week of lessons. Prepping for back to school can be daunting but that’s what I’m here for. I want to help you make this task a nice and easy transition.

I reached out to the Lucky 2nd Grade Teachers Facebook group to ask them what are some of their top recommendations for how to prep for the new school year. Here’s what they have to say!

  • I choose a theme and begin gathering my materials and mentally preparing my classroom. If time is available I prep materials for open house and first month of school. -Amanda W.
  •  I brought home all of my math files. I’m going through them pulling out duplicates & organizing them. Plus downloading district scope & sequence and stapling it in each folder. -Kristin A.
  • My children are grown and I bring home as much as I can do to not be in school yet. I clean and organize files and do as much planning, paperwork as I can without being there much. -Michelle K.
  • I make a list of all the tasks that need to be done for the start of the school year, big or small. Yes, it’s a long list, but then I can work on things throughout the summer as time allows. -Amy N.
  • I reflect on the previous year and make a list of things to change, do differently or get rid of. I like to prepare for the first weeks of school. This year I even mapped out the year for reading, writing, math, science and social studies based on the standards. -Holly R.
  • I make and organize all my alternative tests (math, reading, grammar, and spelling). I have high numbers of ELL’s and this saves me so much time during the year. I also print and organize any new resources. -Shari K.
  • My teammate and I get together every summer and re-do our Sequence of Instruction. We use this as a guide through the whole year when we plan with our team weekly. It is SO USEFUL! We basically walk unit-by-unit through our various curriculums and lay it all out weekly with the skills/books needed for that unit. I print these out, laminate them & put them in a binder that I make for each teacher- unique to their personality or likes. Erica and I have team-taught together for 6 years. We spend ALL SUMMER bouncing ideas off of one another. My biggest advice would be to find a friend that is just as excited about the new year as you are! -Taylor S.
  •  I also spend some time doing something that will make me love being in my classroom- which basically means make it a little prettier. I’m at a point now where I don’t need to buy decorations every year but I like to do something small to add to it! Last year I repainted a free chair a friend gave to me. It became my kindness chair that sits at desk next to mine. When kids are caught being kind, a ping pong ball with their class number goes in the kindness jar. Each morning I draw from the jar for a student to sit in this chair. They LOVE IT! -Taylor S.
  • I created an academic planner that I update each summer. It helps me stay focused to have all my academic goals on one sheet of paper for easy reference during the school year. My planner includes the standards I need to teach each week in all academic areas as well as any important school events. This helps me with lesson plans, knowing what resources to pull, and being sure all standards have been taught prior to district testing. It takes time but makes the rest of the school year so much easier. -Sharon T.
  •  I make sure to recharge my batteries so that I’m prepped for the new school year. I work a few hours in my classroom a week – I purge my files, re-organize my shelves; do things I want done for my SAA it’s. Sometimes in the evening I prep new centers or activities for the new year. -Karen S.
  •  I’m resting and spending much needed time with my family. To make sure I don’t have soo much to do during the upcoming school year, I’m prepping toothy and we make it a family thing. We put on Netflix, laminate, and cut! Thanks so much for the amazing resources. -Jacqueline R.
  • I bring home centers to replace any missing or damaged pieces. -Mary Ann E.
  •  I think back to what I did the previous year(s) and decide what I want to change and/or improve. I also try to spend as much of my summer with my family relaxing and decompressing away from school. Don’t get me wrong, I have ideas going all the time, but I try to focus my time on things other than school! I also try to change one thing about my decor. I’ve kept the same theme for the last 6 years, so this year, I’m painting my door black and hanging some outdoor lights from the ceiling to make it more homey! -Sally W.
  • I sit down and look at my curriculum and lessons and figure out the holes. I think back to last year and determine the areas in my day that I found myself scrambling for activities. Then I go on TPT and buy what I need so I can get it prepped before the school year starts. -Ashley M.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Lucky-Little-Learners-Shopping-Guide-4509936
  • I get centers printed, laminated, cut, and organized. I just don’t find the time to do so throughout the year. I also have a list of things to do like replacing missing pieces to centers or activities for the classroom, things that I need to change, organize, etc based on what worked and what didn’t work the previous year. -Judy A.
  • I attend district trainings, binge watch teachers on you tube, and try to remember to rest! -Lisa N.
  • I love reading what other teachers do. This gives me great ideas, and motivates me to be the best teacher I can be! -Courtney T.
  •  I make vocabulary journals, word wall books, any materials for centers, planning different thematic units for the year, any posters/ anchor charts I can begin to make. I try to do as much of that stuff as I can so once I get back in my room, I can focus on getting my room ready and lesson plans for next year. Then the last two weeks of summer (before mandatory reporting), my district has a variety of trainings that we can earn graduate credits or stipends for, so I try to go to as much of those as possible. -Alli L.
  • At the end of the year, I try to take stock of what I need and make a list of things to buy and select a few things to bring home to prep. For example, things to laminate. I leave my decorations pretty much the same each year and just swap out a few things here and there. I reflect and make notes. Then I mostly unplug from school mode. I read, relax and do things with my family for at least 6 weeks. -Michelle H.
  •  I always start a mini makeover before the year is over changing by my bulletin board paper and boarders, rearranging furniture to see if I like it before I commit. I work on paperwork on the computer at home in July(introduction, reading, sight word letters, labels, class list, etc). Mid August when we are allowed back in it’s labelling and putting things back up and in their proper place. I also try to start prepping materials at school mostly printing, copying or laminating. -Sharman C.
  • As a first year teacher I have been hitting local used book stores, friends of the library sales and good old fashioned yard sales in search of a classroom library. I have also been fortunate enough to have a donors choose project for flexible seating funded. Next step is to hit our local IKEA and purchase some storage solutions! I have toothy grammar and math task cards and will prep these throughout the year as we hit their standard. -Amanda T.
  •  When my babies are napping or asleep for the night, I make bound books for my students for the following year. It has all of their reading centers and spelling activities for the whole year. Once it’s done, I don’t have to make copies for the year! It’s completely changed my teaching life! -Tiffany B.
  • The two things, I try, to do over the summer is (1) studying the standards for the grade I’ll be teaching and (2) choose one new thing to do. Studying the standards is usually no more than a couple days a week for less than an hour. I’ll squeeze some time in between doing chores or maybe while traveling. Though I get inspired by other teachers and always have tons of new things I want to do (decorations, centers, etc) I’ll pick one thing to focus on so I don’t get overwhelmed. -Melissa Z.
  • My prep actually begins a week after the previous school year is over. My teammate and I do our scope and sequence, curriculum planning, etc for the following year. That way we have all summer to marinate in our plans and to seek new ideas and lessons to go with it all. Plus, I find it so much less stressful to tackle that at the beginning of the summer when my brain is still in school-mode. Then I can fully enjoy my summer with my family. -Heather C.
  • I reflect on past years beginning of the year, what worked well, what I needed to adjust. I make a detailed plan for what needs to be done before school starts and tackle one task at a time. -Taira N.
  • I prepare for the school year by reflecting and focusing first on how I can better my relationships with students/families, Community Circle, character education, and classroom management. I read, watch, and listen to a variety of resources including podcasts, PD books, and HOPEFULLY I can add The Encouraging Classroom to my list!! After I have the first couple weeks planned out soft skill wise, I look to my scope and sequence per the district. I plan 1-2 weeks at a time. As far as setting up my classroom goes, I scrub scrub scrub (props to our summer custodians for doing the harder work!) and then I set up my small group area since that’s where I spend most of my time. Everything else just falls into place naturally as I go about prepping. This will be my 5th year teaching and the prep DOES get easier. I also keep a journal each month during the school year and write down things I want to change/add/remove the following year. For example, last August I wrote, “Pencil Wars” as something I would want to implement for this year. -Hillary K.
  • I have first started the break with cleaning, relaxing and spending time with family and friends. I have ordered my homework folders, pencils, glue sticks, brag tag chains, new hall passes, and finishing up my Toothy kits. While I’m going to school for my Masters. -Sherry M.
https://luckylittlelearners.com/learn/free-phonics-toothy
  • I take June off and just relax. In July, I start looking at curriculum scope and sequence and plan the first two weeks. -Rhonda W.
  •  I chose one big project to tackle over the summer. Last year I revamped and leveled my classroom library. This year I’m organizing files for math by chapter concept to include center activities, games and differentiated tasks for each concept. My goal is to have less prep throughout the school year. I find that focusing on one big project keeps me on track and gives me time to reflect on what would be the most beneficial for my students. At the end of August, I switch focus to get everything ready that the students need when they walk in the door. Otherwise, I could spend every day of the summer in my classroom! -Jen M.
  • I’ve been teaching 11 years and I feel confident in my room set up, lesson plans, materials, etc. I focus on relationship building. I send my students a postcard early in July from a trip I take and say something like “We will learn about so many interesting places in second grade. Hope you are enjoying your summer.” I send another in late July with a picture of a character reading a book and say something like “I’ve read so many amazing books this summer. How about you? I can’t wait to hear about your favorites.” In mid August I send a more traditional letter to parents introducing myself and giving them a link to my Classroom social media site, etc. I also send another post card to my students with a picture of a picnic and say “school is starting soon. I can hardly wait to see you. Let’s have a picnic our first day!” I find that building that relationship and having kids be excited to check the mail and get to know me before the year even begins is an amazing opportunity that I never took advantage of before that makes all the difference. This provides a much easier transition particularly for my students with trauma or other special needs. -Teri G.
  • After we get back from vacay, I prep by making changes to all my existing things. I get a spiral notebook out at the start of the last grading period and label it for the next school year. As I reflect on things, I make notes. How did this work? Could I fix it or make it better? Do I need different information posted? Then I update existing things. Do example, I modified the data pages for the leadership notebooks to show a broader range of levels. Students that were below what was on last year’s paper got discouraged when they couldn’t see their growth. I also modified my PBLs based on what worked last year. -Taija M.

As you can see, our Facebook Group of 2nd grade teachers are amazing! I hope you were able to take an idea or two from this article. We’d love to have you join our teacher community as well!

As the new school year approaches, the mind starts to think about things like classroom set up, open house ideas, new systems to put into place, ways to improve classroom management, and that first week of lessons. Prepping for back to school can be daunting but that's what I'm here for. I want to help you make this task a nice and easy transition.

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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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