3 Essential Ways to Prepare for Back to School as a Teacher

I want you to have a successful school year. And that is in whatever way that feels best for you. 

But with any school year, you must prepare yourself for the classroom or you’ll feel completely out of control when your students arrive. That’s why I swear by these three must-do things for teachers heading back to school. 

Checking these essential classroom needs off the to-do list will make you feel ready to welcome students back and handle all the excitement that comes with it.

Before you begin the school year, you should focus on prepping classroom focus boards, organizing the library, and finding back-to-school activities that will get students pumped up to start the new school year.

I have several helpful tips for getting these to-do items checked off your list and you’ll find access to free bulletin boards and activities to ensure you get started on the right foot.

{Disclaimer: Affiliate links have been used below. I only share items I actually use and enjoy!}

Prepare Classroom Focus Boards

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Focus boards do exactly what they imply, draw your student’s focus to the important concepts and skills you’ll be exploring throughout the year.

The best thing you can do is set up focus areas that can stay up all year. Then, you can easily switch out the focal pieces as your standards shift over time. 

Here are a couple of examples.

Math Focus Board

Teachers prepare for back to school with a the magic of math math focus wall including categories for objective, vocabulary, activities, math games, anchor charts, and math tips.

Math includes so many moving parts, it’s essential to have an area to keep all of the pieces in view. Especially when it comes to math terms or any district requirements for keeping objectives visible at all times.

In addition, having an area where your students can constantly have a visual aid for what they’re learning in math is essential and a great way to keep them from guessing or reaching out to you for help with definitions when they’re doing independent work. 

Consider including sections for: 

  • Your objective or I can statements
  • Math vocabulary
  • Helpful tips
  • Anchor charts

Over time, access the needs of your students and add additional sections that can make learning math easier!

You can download and use the math bulletin board pictured above for free, even if you aren’t using our signature Magic of Math curriculum! Here’s a deeper look into how to use this math focus board in your classroom with a link to download it.

Reading Focus Board

Teachers prepare for back to school with a rooted in reading focus bulletin board including categories for the focus book, comprehension, art, writing, grammar, and more

Create a reading focus wall to keep track of important comprehension components you’ll be teaching students each week. You can include items like the focus book of the week, comprehension focus posters, vocabulary, grammar, art, and more!

You don’t even have to use our signature Rooted in Reading curriculum to take advantage of this reading focus board above. On my blog, you can grab a copy for free and get more details about how to use this reading bulletin board

A Board to Shoutout Your Students

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Welcome your students with a board you can keep up all year long! Each day your students can look up to see just how important they are to your classroom. 

This You Are a Ray of Sunshine bulletin board is such a simple way to show student appreciation. On each Sun, you can write special notes about your students as you get to know them throughout the year. 

As a bonus, this can make a wonderful option for staff shoutouts, too!

Organize the Classroom Library

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The library is a focal point in the classroom. It’s where your students will begin or deepen their interest in reading. It’s the place where you’ll keep your focus read-aloud and draw student interest.

So, the library should not only be well organized to fit your needs and make it easy for students to access, but you should ensure that it is rich with diversity, too.

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First, start by choosing books with more diverse characters in various categories. You want to ensure your library mimics the world around your students.

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Second, consider the accessibility of your books. This goes beyond having books within reach for your students. It includes ensuring diverse books are spread throughout the library. 

Instead of clumping all of your diverse books with brown/black characters in one bin, organize them throughout the library based on categories or themes. 

For instance, if you have a bin for friendship books, you should see various forms of friendship in those bins.

Piggybacking on accessibility, a third thing you should consider when organizing your library is how to effectively display the books

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Be intentional! That includes showcasing books that show a variety of subjects, cultures, and students, and keeping your focus books for the week in plain view. You can use items like easels or your whiteboard tray.

It’s a great idea to put on display diverse reads that relate to your main read-aloud for the week, too!

These simple display tactics can not only show students that you care about them and allow them to see themselves represented but can open their eyes to new genres and interests.

Engaging Back-to-School Activities

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The last thing you’ll want to do is bore your students with worksheets when they arrive.

I know worksheets are easy and a simple way to get the information you need quickly, but having engaging, hands-on back-to-school activities will make a world of difference in how your students both perceive and cooperate the rest of the year.

It will excite them and give them something to look forward to as the year progresses plus, it will work wonders for engagement in your classroom.

I’ve found that team-building activities or activities that focus on classroom community tend to work wonders for the beginning of the year! You can get students actively involved in working together, showing kindness, and identifying their strengths.

Consider team-building activities that focus on:

  • Setting goals
  • Problem-solving as a team
  • Building trust

If you’re unsure what activities work for this or looking for a simple solution to add to your classroom, check out these highly engaging activities for B2S Fun for the 1st Week of School.

Teachers prepare for back to school with engaging back to school activities for their students including an all about me digital slideshow for students.

Building your classroom community is essential, too. One book I love that teaches a valuable lesson on this is Our Class is a Family. In the book, students learn that their classroom is a safe place for them to explore friendships, be themselves, make mistakes, and learn!

Using the book, you could expand on this concept and begin building comprehension standards – like making connections and comparing – as your reading unit begins. Use hands-on book companion activities that drive this message home!

Check out our reading plans and activities for Our Class is a Family in my TPT shop.

One more thing.

The coveted all about me activity does more than just teach students about one another. It also helps students understand how similar we are and promotes a classroom family mentality from the beginning. 

Instead of the traditional all about me poster, try a digital All About Me presentation! Students can create a slideshow detailing their unique personalities and lifestyle. Simply download the FREE template!

Before you head back to the classroom, don’t forget to prepare for back to school by checking these three essentials off your list! The rest will fall in place.

Don’t forget these 3 must-do things for teachers to prepare for back to school!

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Hi, I'm Amy

Hey, y’all! My name is Amy Lemons and I am passionate about providing students with both engaging and effective standards-based Math and ELA lessons.


Sample a day of Rooted in Reading with these lesson plans and activities for Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, and Grammar!