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5 Ways to Start the Year off Right- Teacher Back to School Checklist

5 Ways to start the Year off-Teacher back to school Checklist

It is important to start the year off on the right foot. Set the tone of the class and let students know what to expect in your room. Don't forget though that you have the power to change your classroom climate at any time during the year. However, starting different habits and expectations later in the year will take more effort than if you begin with the habits in the beginning. Let's start with 5 things you should plan on doing before school even starts.

Teacher Back to School-Build Relationships with Students

The first thing I love to do the first day in class is get to know my students. I am a big believer that students behave better for teachers that show they care for them. When students feel heard and safe they will behave and learn from you. Get to know the students' interests, backgrounds, and personalities. Students will light up when you ask them “What do you like?”.

There are so many activities you can do that get your students and you engaged in getting to know each other.

Have Some Go To Filler Activities for those extra 10 minutes

Create some vocabulary memes

Have students create some great picture vocabulary memes. They can create memes through websites online like,, and Students can upload their own pictures or find a picture online. Make it even easier for them to share by creating a google slide that each student can add their own slide to and then you have the unit vocabulary all in one place.

Play a game of pictionary

Review content and vocabulary by having the kids play a game of pictionary. You could have pre-cutout vocabulary words that the students have to pick from each unit. The students could use their dry erase boards and team up in their groups.

Trivia Question

There are several trivia questions you could search up and use as random trivia questions or you could create your own questions and have them be content based. You could have students write their answers on post-it notes or electronically.


Your trivia questions above could be submitted electronically. The students love kahoot and get so competitive when we play in my class. Check it out at

Prepare Positive Mindset for you and your students

Mantra Day

Have students give themselves and each other pep-talks. It is so easy to hear all the negative. You have to train your brain to think positively and be kind to ourselves. Have a time where they can focus on themselves and reflect on something they want to achieve or are proud of themselves for. Teacher Vision has a great exercise to help you get started.

Don't forget you, as the teacher, also need to be mindful during the school year. Find ways to relax and re-energize. These are best practices for teachers back to school tips. Guide your brain as well to help you think in a positive manner to be the best you for your students. Slow down and breathe. Read more by “Your Guide to Finding the Best Mindfulness Teacher”

Meditation to clear the brain and refocus

You need to be familiar with meditation before bringing into your classroom. The first few times the students will not “be good at it” and thats ok. Be consistent and keep students practicing so they can get more comfortable with it. Calm Classroom has several resources. You can also find many videos on Youtube about meditation in the classroom or mindfulness in the classroom. Here is one I found, 5 Minutes Calming. Find something that you like and use it.

Plan Brain Breaks to keep students engaged

The biggest point about brain breaks is to give kids a break from thinking about content. Bonus if the kids can get moving and get their heart pumping.

FitBoost is a free resource from Sandford Fit. It is great for physical fitness.

Try learning a new language. There are so many free apps that you can use. Have the kids learn sign language. Start with them spelling out their name.

Have a dance party. Play music and let the kids groove to the music. That is if you can get them to dance. You could have students teach you tiktok dances and you all could practice them.

Pause for an art break. Allow kids to draw their best drawing. Give them a theme for inspiration. You could print some color pages and let the students go at them.Here are some free positive self-talk coloring pages.

Assess the students skills level and gaps

With the pandemic and online school, expect students to have gaps. It would be a great idea to assess students' skills the first few days of class. Because it is the first day of class and the students are growing to trust you, they should try their best. I always let the students know that the assessment is not a grade, just a way to see what they know. You could even do a group test as well. Sometimes students remember with a quick reminder, which they can get from their peers.

Pre-Algebra Skills- Teacher back to school PIN

that I have created, to check skills including number line, order of operation, fractions, and number sense.

What are other items you do before the students show up?

Tell me how your first day, first week, of school went?

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