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bach to school tips for elementary students

Back to School Tips for Elementary Teachers

The phrase “Back-to-School” comes with a lot of mixed emotions for teachers this year. Whether you are going back virtually, hybrid, or fully in-person, this year will be different than the last. So, I’m here to share some quick back-to-school tips to make this all feel a little less overwhelming. This blog post is the first in my back-to-school blog series, so let’s get into it!

Preparing for Back to School

While there are a million and one ways to get prepared, I am going to share my top 3 tips for a smooth start. And no, none of these tips include Target trips & classroom decor. Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful classroom and I WILL spend time setting mine up. However, it’s not the priority. Your students won’t notice if a bulletin board doesn’t have a border yet or if a lamp isn’t in the right place. If anything, they will appreciate being involved in the process and love watching their classroom come together with their work & input.

So, if it’s not decor, what is it?

First off, sort out your long range plans. I keep my plans simple and outline what units will be taught in what month. This ensures I have time for everything, but also gives me the flexibility to change things around if needed. The most important part of your plans this year is making sure you include time for REVIEW. I say this because students have experienced the last year and a half very differently. For example, some students may have thrived in the virtual environment and learned quite a bit, while others may have really struggled. We NEED to make enough time for diagnostics and review so that our students don’t feel overwhelmed.

long range plans for back to school

This goes into the next point, which is meeting your students where they are. The curriculum can be overwhelming. It’s hard to understand how you could EVER have time to teach all of the standards, but we need to make sure that we are keeping our students’ existing knowledge at the forefront of our planning. Your curriculum has to be flexible this year because you may find that you have students who skipped entire units last year due to the pandemic and constant changing of learning models. Be prepared to be flexible & don’t stress!

The Classroom

Let’s go back to the classroom and learning environment for a minute. As I said before, your classroom does not need to be “finished”. There are a number of studies that show students work better in more of a “blank canvas” environment because it is less distracting and because it allows them to take part in creating a space that works for them. 

What I do want you to focus on is functionality. Make sure you have a classroom that WORKS for you and your students. Consider things like desk arrangement, supply accessibility and student storage. 

classroom schedule cards for back to school class decor

Setting YOUR Expectations & Having Fun

This year won’t be perfect. I said it! I do not expect this to be my favourite year in the classroom because I know there is SO much reteaching that needs to be done. Not only with the curriculum, but with classroom rules and procedures. I will have students in my class that haven’t stepped foot in a school since March 2020, which is crazy.

That means we will have to spend more time discussing expectations and reviewing curriculum than usual, but it also means our students will be EXCITED to come to school. I encourage you to think about how we can feed off that excitement and incorporate FUN into the classroom. We should celebrate being back in school and use that energy to motivate our students and get through the year.

Back to School Freebie for YOU!

Coming up with classroom routines & procedures can be a drag. So, I created a freebie to help you through it! Click here to sign up and grab your free resource! If you are looking for a slideshow to help plan everything out and walk your students through things, click here for my classroom routines and procedures slides.

free classroom routines and procedures checklist for back to school classroom management

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I’m Katarina and I teach elementary students in Toronto, Canada. I’m passionate about creating authentic learning experiences that students will love and remember. If you are looking to improve your classroom management and engage your students with easy-to-implement resources and tools, you’re in the right place!

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