Preparing for back to school brings in a lot of emotions in me. Stress for all the planning and work that needs to get done. Excitement for the possibilities ahead. Nerves about the actual first day back. Sadness that it’s the end of summer, which means winter is coming. Happiness at the thought of meeting my new students. I could keep going.
The idea of being back with the kids is very exciting for me, but all the logistics needed to get there really stress me out. I am creating this blog post based on a small fraction of the information you can find in my Back To School Guide for French Immersion Teachers.
1. Make To Do Lists
Before you get to school or even think about setting up your classroom, create to do lists. Write down everything you want to accomplish, break it down by day so that you’re not overwhelmed when you get to school to set up. Set yourself small attainable goals. Things don’t need to be perfect – your students won’t care, they’re excited to meet you and see their friends. My bulletin boards are always empty at the beginning of the year other than borders and headers.
2. Consider Your Routines
Think about what routines you need to teach your students. Every teacher does things differently and you need to show your class how you want them to do things. How do they ask to go to the bathroom? What are your expectations when they are walking in the halls? The earlier you start teaching them these routines, the better. Start on the first day of school and make your expectations clear from the get go.
3. Plan Your Setup & Classroom Decor
Before even thinking about the classroom decor, consider where you want all your furniture. At my school, we create “maps” of what we want our room to look like and our custodial staff will set the room up that way once they’re done waxing the floors. When I decide where everything goes, I consider:
- Where do I want my desk?
- Do I want tables or desks for the students?
- Where do I want my carpet? My guided reading table?
- Do I have extra furniture (e.g., shelves, couches, etc.) that I need to account for?
- How many students will be seated together?
- How far apart do I want the groups?
Once I have my answers to these questions, I can start planning. I usually plan where to put the student desks around where I want my carpet, guided reading table and desk. They usually move around throughout the year anyway. Consider spacing your groups out instead of keeping everyone in one corner of the room.
For classroom decor, I pick one theme and stick with it. I usually paint my bulletin boards black and go with a bright rainbow theme. This year, I created a new Boho Rainbow Classroom Decor Bundle and will be using that in my classroom. Having a super “Pinterest pretty” classroom is not necessary for it to be a good learning space. I usually just put up the minimum – labels, alphabet, class jobs, etc. I put up things I actually need, not things that are there simply to decorate.
Remember, your students won’t remember what your class looked like. They’ll remember you and how you made them feel!
4. Prepare Parent Communication
My Back To School Guide includes a variety of letters to send home at the beginning of the year. I send home about 5 different letters on the first day of school, so I need to make sure to get these organized before school starts.
Consider what information you want to communicate to parents at the beginning of the year. Some questions to ask yourself:
- What day do you have library? Gym?
- How do you want them to communicate with you, through email or through an agenda?
- What are your routines that parents need to know about?
- How often can they expect to hear from you (newsletters), and through what platform?
- What do you want to know about your students? Do you have any questions for the parents?
Use these questions to decide what notes you need to send home to parents. If you own my Guide, you will have access to 5 different editable letters that I’ve prewritten for you. PS – want the assessment duo-tang letter I shared here? You can grab it here for free!
5. Plan your First Day Activities
Last year I wrote some blog posts on the first day of school in French Immersion for Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3. In these posts, I planned the entire first day of school for each grade. You’ll find a full day’s worth of activities and read alouds to get you through.
Don’t forget to check out my Back To School Guide for French Immersion Teachers
You’ll find a comprehensive, editable 70 page guide that will help get you through the lead up to school starting as well as the beginning of the year in French Immersion with your new class. It is full of resources, activities and checklists to help you plan your return to school with less stress. It covers the topics of:
- Classroom Setup
- Attention Getters
- Parent Communication
- Literacy Block
- Math Block
- Transitioning from “Back to School” to “School”