7 Things You Can Do This Summer to Prep for Back to School

7 Things You Can Do This Summer to Prep for Back to School

It’s summertime and as teachers, the last thing we want to think about is back to school. However, I find that the more I accomplish throughout the summer (rather than cramming it all in during the final weeks), the easier it is to transition into the new school year.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to come at you all Type A, pushing some overly productive agenda when all you’re trying to do is catch a breather after that crazy school year. I’m not saying to go buck wild two months in advanced. Definitely not. Your girl is trying to enjoy some sunshine too. But I am suggesting that small tasks sprinkled throughout your summer schedule will help you prepare for the new year with ease and allow you to enjoy your final days of freedom a bit more.

Here are 7 of my favorite summer tasks to get ready for back to school:

1. Get your Teacher Toolbox organized.

Whether or not you’re an office supply freak like me, teachers have a lot of stuff and it is super easy to get disorganized and chaotic.

Expos, binder clips, erasers, pencils, Post-it Notes, rubber bands, chargers, batteries, you name it… we use it all and a lot of it.

I am obsessed with organization and count on my Teacher Toolbox and pastel label collections (links below) to store all the necessities.

Putting together a toolbox box like this over the summer will make it easy to organize everything by supply type as you stock up on all the things.

I like to use these pastel labels for this 22-drawer cabinet and these labels for this 24-drawer cabinet.

2. Map out a tentative unit schedule.

It’s virtually impossible to plan out your exact unit schedule from the get-go, because well, students, weather and curriculum hiccups inevitably happen, but you can get ahead of the game.

Every year, I use this minimalistic yearly planner to outline the year ahead, starting with the assessment date and working my way backwards to make sure all pieces of a unit fit in. This helps ensure that my students are ready to move on and allows me to focus on spiraling in basic skills, old concepts and trickier concepts when possible. I also use data collection/tracker sheets (over 30 included!) to monitor skills, mini assessments, completed assignments and more!

I always feel prepared and organized when I start the school year with my planner prepped and ready to go! This is also great for homeschool teachers.

3. Decide on your classroom theme early.

Choosing a classroom theme early on will allow you to keep an eye out for cute on-theme touches throughout the summer. This way, you’re not spending an arm and a leg on decorations in one fell swoop.

Last year, my theme was llamas (a huge hit, BTW) and I was able to prep my bulletin board and other fun classroom décor well in advance.

Many schools only give teachers one week to move into their classroom. Bogus, in my honest opinion… who do they think we are?! This year, I am lucky enough to have access to my room for the entire summer, so I am going to move in and decorate in phases rather than break my back trying to do it all in the few days before my students arrive.

The Unordinary Teacher Survival Kit

4. Put together helpful references for your students.

Over my seven years of teaching, I have learned just how visual K-8 students can be. More often than not, a simple poster or reference sheet is more effective than repeatedly trying to drill in a concept.

These are some of the most popular posters and reference sheets on our store, all of which I regularly use with my students and in my classroom.



All posters and reference sheets are easy to print at home – you do NOT need a special printer to create full-sized posters for your classroom!

I love to laminate the reference sheets and either tape them to my students’ desks or paste them inside a book or notebook, so they always have an easy way to sneak a peak when they need a reminder.

5. Prep your student and parent resources.

We send our students and their parents home with an endless supply of back-to-school forms and informational items in that first week of school. These include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Getting to know you sheets
  • Parent volunteer sign ups
  • Contact information
  • Allergies & other important health information
  • Transportation & early dismissal permissions
  • School year handbooks
  • Birthdays

Make a list of all the print outs that your students and parents will need to kick off the school year so you can create packets when ready.

6. Make your copies.

Ah, don’t you love fighting for the copy machine during that first week back? Hauling piles and piles of print outs back to your classroom in a last-minute sprint to get your materials together?

Why bother?

If you planned out your units, you should have a decent idea of which materials you will need and when. Start making your copies early on and store them until you are ready to use them! This will relieve you of the burden of rushing.

7. Stock up on your survival essentials in phases.

Being a teacher AIN’T CHEAP. But part of being a teacher is spending some money on classroom decorations and organizational resources to make sure that the year is as stress-free for you as possible.

Rather than dropping a boatload of money on all the items that make you function at once, gather your tools and resources in phases. I find that it helps my budget to buy a batch of necessities each month based on a predefined spending limit so that I’m not wrecking my cash flow all at once.

Check out my list of classroom essentials that I personally use to stay sane throughout the year. Each item is especially useful for first year teachers because you will continue to use them for years to come. I hope it will help you prep smart!

If you are looking to get a head start on your back to school prep, try any of these tips and I promise you… the first week will feel SO much easier.

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