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The Ultimate Teacher’s Guide to Back to School Success

Find great back to school success strategies, ideas and tips.

As summer draws to a close, it’s time to get ready for an unforgettable back-to-school season. Say goodbye to the days of summer vacation and get ready to start a thrilling educational adventure with our Ultimate Teacher’s Guide to Back to School Success. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore various ideas and strategies to make your return to school exciting and successful.

This blog post contains affiliate links that are of no cost to the reader. If you make a purchase through the provided links, this blog will receive a small commission to help with the financial costs of maintaining the site.

The Ultimate Teacher’s Guide to Back to School Success

Getting Yourself Back to School Ready

While it’s important to get students prepared for going back to school, it can also be tough for teachers to get into the back to school mindset. As the new school year draws near, what do teachers need to know about going back to the classroom? We’ve covered many tips on this blog about getting yourself prepared for back to school, and even with all the tips and advice, it can still be very overwhelming. 

Achieving back to school success might seem impossible – there are so many things to think about, from being prepared with the new policies and curriculum updates, getting your school supplies ready, and the age-old question: should we have a class pet? (My vote is NO!)

But it doesn’t have to be. With the right tools and the right mindset, you will be ready to have your first day back become a back to school success!

Updated Policies & Curriculum Adjustments 

Back to school success means staying on top of any changes that might have happened in the school Does your school have new policies and procedures in place for the coming year? Make sure you review the policies and understand any updates related to health and safety.

You can also assess the curriculum you’ll be teaching and see if any adjustments need to be made. Are there any gaps in the curriculum or any items that weren’t covered in the previous year? How will you work with students in terms of differentiation? 

Using long-range plans can help you look at the school year as a whole and help you achieve back to school success. Check out the long-range plans we have available. This way, you can start planning what activities, resources, and assessments you’ll be using during the school year.

Since the pandemic, teachers need to be more aware of the various ways students learn and find innovative ways to accommodate students in various learning environments. 

Are you teaching a split-grade class this year? Figuring out how to meet the needs of your students in this kind of classroom isn’t easy, but we do have some strategies that can help you: Best Strategies For Teaching Split Grade Classes.

Communication & Getting to Know Your Team

How will you be communicating with parents, students, and fellow teachers? Back to school success means ensuring that you know of any systems put in place at your school for teacher-to-teacher communication. You should also establish how you will be communicating with parents – will you use a communication app? Email? Another online platform? Also related to communication, make sure you know of any changes to administrative procedures. 

Back to school success means recognizing that communication is an essential part of learning. If you’re looking for parent-teacher communication ideas, you might like this blog post: Effective Parent-Teacher Communication: Keeping the Lines Open

Along with knowing how you’re going to communicate, it is also important that you get to know the people you will be teaching alongside. You never know who will become your teacher bestie or who will be the one to save you in case of an emergency. 

Professional Development Opportunities

Are there any professional development opportunities you want to take advantage of before or during the school year to enhance your teaching skills? There are many workshops online that are available to teachers that can help them with back to school success, and you can read this blog post to find out what resources there are: Fantastic Online Teacher Professional Development

2 Peas and a Dog has also created various professional development opportunities, including how to set up a classroom library, how to use podcasts in the classroom, and how to transform your reading instruction and increase engagement in the classroom. You can view all of the professional development resources available by following THIS LINK.

If you’re looking for more information about professional development that will help you with back to school success, we have a variety of articles and resources available: 

School Supplies & Teacher Supplies

Back to school success isn’t just about familiarizing yourself with the latest procedures, protocols, and policies. It’s also about making sure you’re ready with all the tools you need once you’re in the classroom all day. 

When we asked our Facebook group what school supplies they couldn’t live without, they said: 

  1. “My flair pens!” – Check out these colours!
  2. X Acto School Pro Pencil Sharpener
  3. Dry erase markers and proper rags to erase them – not the “erasers” that come with the set.”
  4. Binder clips!”
  5. Sticky/Post It notes. My students and I don’t know who goes through them more: the students doing activities or me trying to organize my life.”
  6. Ready-to-go anchor charts

Of course, the most common school/teaching supplies include items like pens or pencils, highlighters, post-it notes, and your planner. You can read our essential school supply list in this blog post: 10 Back to School Supplies Every Teacher Needs

And it’s not just school supplies you need in the classroom for back to school success. What do you need to ensure you make it through the day? Items such as a water bottle, hair elastics, hand lotion, a sweater, and some snacks are all helpful to have in the classroom. 

Depending on what grade you teach, you might even want to have a spare set of clothes and shoes, just in case. Back to school success means being prepared! Read what other personal care supplies you need in the classroom in this blog post: Personal Care Supplies Every Teacher Needs At School.

The Importance of Self-Care

When you’re a teacher, self-care is more important than ever. Our job doesn’t stop the second we leave the classroom. Heading back to school can be demanding and exhausting, and taking care of your physical and mental health will enable you to provide the best support for your students and ultimately lead to back to school success.

Make sure you’re taking a break and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and help you maintain a work-life balance. If you’re ever in need of support, make sure that you have those support systems in place.  

If you’re looking for ways to fit self-care into your routine, this FREE Teacher Self-Care Challenge resource provides choice boards to help you figure out a way to challenge yourself to use more self-care within your busy life.

For more mental health and self-care advice, you can read these blog posts: 

Making the First Day a Back to School Success

The first day doesn’t have to be chaos and mayhem! With the right attitude, the right tools, and the right preparation, you’ll be ready to conquer that first day with no stress at all and make the first day a back to school success. 

Creating an Engaging Classroom Environment

Transform your classroom into a vibrant and engaging space that inspires learning. From colourful bulletin boards to cozy reading corners, even the smallest thing can revamp your classroom and lead to back to school success. Create a welcoming and motivating atmosphere for your students by embracing the power of visual aids, inspiring quotes, and student artwork. 

Transitioning From Summer to School

Going from summer vacation to being back in school is a tough transition for both students and teachers. Having days of reading books or playing video games, or maybe travelling and camping over the summer, is a much different scene than being in a classroom all day and can make back to school success difficult.

In the blog post, Back to School Ideas for Middle and High School Teachers, various teachers give their tips on how to make the transition a successful one. 

Visit the blog post, Back to School Survival Tips, to get even more tips for the first day of school. 

Having fun back to school activities is a great idea for those first few weeks of school and will help lead you to back to school success. Rather than diving right into schoolwork in the first few weeks, use the Back to School Activities Bundle. It will get your students’ creative juices flowing as they write about their summer, introduce themselves to their teacher, and write themselves a letter at the beginning of the year for a time capsule. 

Teachers love using this bundle in the first few weeks of school: 

“The first week is always a bit of a challenge, but these activities fill up time in a meaningful manner. The activities are great for getting to know the kids.” – The SOARING Educator

“It’s so handy to have a resource like this to come back to year after year for ideas for September. I love having a variety of activities to choose from for the first days of school.” – Amy H. 

You might also like the Back to School Mega Bundle. Not only does it include all of the activities you’ll find in the Back to School Activities Bundle, but it also includes a digital escape room, a creative writing activity, a school-themed non-fiction article, and classroom reward coupons – all perfect for back to school success! 

Here’s what teachers have to say about this mega bundle

“This is a fantastic resource for the beginning of the year.  It is a great way to get to know students and also so nice to have something ready to go that doesn’t require much prep at the start of a busy year!” – Vanessa C. 

“Thank you for making back to school planning a breeze! Students have been engaged and enjoying each lesson so far. I will use for years to come!” – Nikki K.

Inclusive Celebrations

Back to school success also means recognizing the importance of making sure all students feel included in your classroom. Ensuring that students know that their beliefs are valued and that they won’t feel left out should not be overlooked. 

We’ve compiled a blog post all about Inclusive Holiday Celebrations that goes over each month and how you can include everyone in your classroom to make sure they all know they’re part of the same team. 

Interactive Icebreakers

Start creating a classroom community by incorporating fun and interactive icebreakers. Encourage students to connect with one another, share their interests, and build new friendships. You can create a positive and inclusive environment and make day one a back to school success using icebreakers such as Back to School Bingo.

We also have digital escape rooms exclusively for the back-to-school season. This retro technology-themed digital escape room will fascinate your students and have you reminiscing about the technology of the past. This school-themed digital escape room will have students learning about all things school-related, including school traditions from around the world. 

If you’re looking for even more exciting back-to-school activities you can do with your classroom, read the blog post, Digital Back to School Activities for Middle School, where we outline in detail the activities you can do with your students during the first few days of school. It includes everything from reading activities to writing to more fun icebreaker activities that are sure to make your first day in the classroom a back to school success. 

It is important that students get to know one another and learn to work with each other. Sometimes a little team building can be helpful to get them to trust one another and learn to work together. 

Technology Tools

Technology is all around us and is a popular and necessary component of learning. Explore new educational apps, online platforms, and interactive resources that can revolutionize your lessons. Discover how technology can unlock a world of possibilities for both you and your students and lead to back to school success.

Learn more about technology in these blog posts: 

The world is constantly evolving around us in terms of technology, and it’s important that we stay relevant in the classroom with a mix of tech and no-tech activities. 

Using Podcasts For Learning

Podcasts are a wonderful medium to use in the classroom – and staying relevant by using tools such as podcasts will lead you to back to school success. Students love that they can learn without a textbook and listen to topics that are relevant to their daily lives. Not only that, but podcast lessons can help students work on their listening comprehension skills. 

Try some podcast lessons with your students using our Podcast Listening Comprehension Bundle or our Podcast Listening Comprehension Bundle 2

From topics such as the rise in popularity of ghost kitchens to the maze of impulse buys in stores, there will be something to interest everyone. If you’ve never used podcasts in the classroom before, you can try them out using this free podcast lesson on Subscription Boxes

Back to School Success – Free Podcast Lessons:

For more information on using podcasts in the classroom, check out any of these blog posts: 

Get Students Excited for Reading

No guide to back to school success would be complete without talking about books and reading. Get your students to love reading by starting early in the curriculum. From book clubs to author visits, you can get students excited to read – even if they aren’t in the classroom. 

Encourage students to explore diverse genres, recommend books to their peers, and celebrate their reading achievements through creative projects and discussions. No matter which middle school grade you teach, we have a book list for you: Best Middle School Book Recommendations. This list is ongoing, and we add to it whenever we think of new and exciting books to add. 

And remember that getting students to think about what they’re reading doesn’t mean you only have to do book reports in class. While we’ve found ways to renovate the traditional ELA book report, back to school success also means letting students have fun with their reading: 

If you’re still not quite ready to move away from the traditional book report, you might like this post: Spice Up Your Book Reports

Pre-Made Book Talks

Remember that not all teachers have the time to read all the best ones – back to school success means finding ways that can help you save time in the classroom. That’s why we created the Pre-Made Book Talks for Middle and High School Teachers. This resource contains 20 different slideshows of popular books for you to share with your students to get them excited about reading. 

Building Relationships

Back to school success means building relationships with our students. As teachers, we’re expected to build a rapport with our students so they are able to trust us and talk to us. Our goal is to help them succeed, and if we don’t work on fostering those relationships early, the chance of that success isn’t as high as it should be. 

It might sound obvious, but teachers need to listen to their students. Kids know when we’re too busy to talk to them or when we’re multitasking when we should be giving them our full attention, so making sure you listen is important. Just as important is validating their feelings, even if you don’t agree with their opinions. 

Rebecca Gettelman, a middle and high school teacher from the Midwest, wrote a guest post on the blog about how to build classroom relationships through conversations with students. You can read both parts and see how this approach will help you with back to school success by clicking the links below. 

Remember, when students are respected, they’re more likely to be respectful toward you, and when you listen to them, they’re more likely to listen to you. 

Preparing For A Substitute Teacher

As much as we want to be super teachers, the day usually comes when we have to be out of the classroom for one reason or another. Back to school success means being prepared for anything – even an absence.

Middle School Sub Plans

It never hurts to have sub plans at the ready, no matter what grade or subject you teach. If you’re a history teacher, we have Easy and Engaging Canadian History Sub Plans For Middle School Students. We also have the Middle School ELA Sub Plans Bundle that has topics that can be used for many subject areas.  

Teachers have loved this bundle: 

“My students loved having a choice of relevant topics to investigate; they especially enjoyed using the mix of articles and videos. They were so engaged in the topics, they (my eighth graders mostly) did additional research. The Thinking Question essays elevated student voices; hence, my students did their best work and were quite proud of their final product and newly found knowledge. My substitutes were impressed with the work my students were doing and how much the work lowered any behavioral issues.” – Leila P. 

“These plans have been a lifesaver on days that I am out, all I do is link to google classroom and students now know what to do automatically, I hardly leave sub plans anymore.” – Marnee D. 

“This resource helped when I needed plans to fill some of the time in my schedule when I could not be in the classroom with my students. The plans were easy to follow and the topics were clear and engaging for the students. Thank you for this great tool!” – Daniela P. 

We’ve even put together an entire blog post dedicated solely to sub plans for EVERY subject area, including tips and tricks for those days when you just can’t be in the classroom. You can read it here: Efficient and Effective Middle School Sub Plans: Tips and Strategies for Stress-Free Absences

Going back to school doesn’t have to be stressful or exhausting. With the right tools, you can be prepared and ready to go back to school and set up your class – and yourself – for back to school success. 

Embrace the excitement of a new school year, create an exciting classroom environment, and ignite a love for learning that will last a lifetime. Get ready to start a remarkable journey with your students, where the possibilities are endless and back to school success is inevitable.

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