There is so much to do and organize, and usually there is not much time to actually 👉get it done👈.
Quelling that panicked feeling in your guts can be tough, even though you know you’ll get all the things done . . . eventually.
Today we’re going to help you out with a few of those things on your first day of school teacher’s checklist.
We’ll cover topics such as:
- Get to know you activities
- Establishing classroom rules, procedures, and expectations
- Finding out your starting point
- Reviewing important skills with students
- Ideas for building relationships
- Getting yourself organized
- And getting your students working
So say goodbye to the tumbling toddlers in your tummy and read on.
Plus you need to let them know a little about yourself to build rapport.
Middle and high school get to know you
This original and visually engaging printable will help your students to talk about themselves, to each other, and to you.
- 3x About Me/Us/Them worksheets in black and white
- 1x Student Survey Top Five worksheet in black and white
- 1x Find Someone Who worksheet in black and white
The first worksheets (About Me/Us/Them) are great to use together. First get the students to complete the ‘About Me’ worksheet about themselves, then the ‘About Them’ worksheet about one other student in the class who they interview. Finally, they can do the ‘About Us’ worksheet in a small group of 3 to 4.
The Student Survey Top Five worksheet is another option for students to tell you about themselves (their top five books, songs, movies, famous people, vacation memories, and goals).
This worksheet also asks students how they think they learn best and the other classes they are taking that year to give you an idea of what their academic interests are and what their study load is like.
The Find Someone Who worksheet is a great way for students to get to know each other. Give them the worksheet, a time limit (or a first-to-finish prize as an incentive) and set them loose.
Comic book template
For back to school, you could make the topic something such as
- their summer adventures
- the best thing that happened over the vacation/holidays
- highlights from the previous academic year
- or what they imagine the year ahead holds
Included in the activity are
- teacher information & frequently asked questions
- lesson plan with sample objective
- student worksheet
- a digital, 1:1 or distance-learning version (Google Slides + Form)
This free activity is designed to help build classroom community and encourage discussion from day one.
- 21 slides to lead a class step-by-step through the station rotation activity
- 16 pages to print and post around your room to form 8 stations
- a single-page worksheet to use at the end of class or assign as homework anytime during the first week of school
All you need to do is read through the activity, and bring sticky notes, index cards, and printer paper.
Each game focuses on getting students talking on a variety of interesting, low-risk topics.
The games include:
- Blobs and Lines: A set of questions that asks students to line up in some particular order (by birthday, for example) or gather in groups based on something they have in common (similar shoes, for example). This game keeps students moving and talking and helps them find things they have in common right away, building a sense of belonging and community in your classroom.
- Concentric Circles: Students arrange themselves in an inside circle and an outside circle, the inside facing out, forming pairs. Pairs discuss their answers to a getting-to-know-you question, then rotate for the next question, forming a new partnership. This game gives students the chance to have lots of one-on-one conversations with many of their classmates and helps them quickly feel more at home in your class.
- This or That: This game has students informally debate on light topics such as “Which animal makes a better pet…dog or cat?” Students have to choose a position–there is no middle!–and stand in a part of the room that best represents their opinion. This game is a HUGE hit with students: Not only does the argumentation help them learn a lot about each other in a short amount of time, it’s also just fun.
Each game has been created as a PowerPoint presentation, complete with 20 questions. All you have to do is set it in slideshow mode and the game is on!
Each game is EDITABLE, so you can change or add questions to suit your students. The slideshows also work in Google Slides.
Four corners game
The PowerPoint and Google Slides contain 22 slides with questions relevant to teens. Students will have fun learning about one another, and there’s no prep for you! It’s a great activity for the beginning of the school year or the start of a new semester, and it can be used for any content area.
Good topics to establish rules around from the outset include:
- acceptable classroom behavior
- classwork expectations
- homework expectations
- device use
- any other rules you like to have to save your sanity
Now you could just do a poster and throw it on the wall. But let’s be honest, no teen is going to buy into that.
So, other options for covering classroom rules in a way students will remember and engage with are listed below.
Included are 30 cute, easy prep, ready-to-go question stems for classroom rules with coordinating emojis. Three blank emoji puppets are provided as well.
Just imagine the look on their faces when they get to hold up emoji puppets on the first day of school – instant buy-in from middle schoolers and eye-rolling, kitschy-cringey enjoyment from high schoolers.
The memes are provided in png, pdf, and pptx file types. They are editable, so you can customize them, and are available in letter, legal, and 10×14 sizes.
Procedures, routines, and expectations
Things you may need to cover include:
- late to school policy
- late assessment policy
- dress code/uniform expectations
- how to change classes/subjects
- IT policies
- extra-curricular requirements
- policies around drugs, smoking, and banned items
- health and safety policies (including possibly also hygiene rules)
- how and when students and parents can contact teachers
The activity teaches students to find the answer to questions that they have (and that they would usually drive you crazy asking), such as ‘Where do I hand in homework?’ etc.
You use the slide instructions to create a scavenger hunt specific to you and your classroom. You first brainstorm what information your students will need to know and then write questions that are fun and engaging.
The activity takes between 10-20 minutes for students to complete, but you can stretch or condense it as much as you need to.
Included in the download are
- instructions for use (pdf)
- editable brainstorming sheet (docx and pptx)
- editable scavenger hunt (docs and pptx)
- tech FAQ
The editable PowerPoint presentation allows you to customize the stations to suit your classroom. Through the activity, students
- complete a student survey
- organize tech accounts and sign-up codes
- participate in a syllabus scavenger hunt with printable worksheet
- give book recommendations to their peers
- 20+ page classroom management plan
- 40 essential classroom management questions
- classroom procedures and routines checklist
- 17 page step-by-step detailed guide that teaches you how to create your own classroom management plan
Finding out your starting point
Back to school bundle
Section one includes lots of icebreakers and fun activities to help you get to know your students, including printable back-to-school activities for the classroom such as a letter to myself and a top 10 playlist.
But section two will help you work out where your students are starting from. Section two (of both volumes) includes
- reading inventory
- writing inventory
- vocabulary inventory
- learning style inventory
- online learning style assessment activity
- online personality profile assessment activity.
The bundle also includes activities to build classroom community.
Review important skills
Skills such as study skills and research skills are helpful in all subjects, and often get overlooked in favor of content, despite the fact that strong study skills correlate with strong academic performance. (See this post more for more).
Fast and easy ways to cover these skills are included in the following back to school printable activities.
- taking notes
- reading assignments
- planning and organization
- focus and concentration
- studying for tests
- test anxiety
- papers and essays
- and the importance of exercise.
The printable worksheet/s encourage active listening and spur students to consider how to study and work effectively.
The episodes run for between approximately 8 and 13 minutes, so the mini-lessons could run for between 25-45 minutes depending on the class. Or you could set them as homework.
Included in the bundle are
- visual note-taking worksheets for ten episodes (black and white)
- teacher notes for ten episodes (not an answer key as answers will vary)
- hyperlink to the video for ten episodes (at the top of the teacher notes)
Online research skills worksheets
- an introduction to navigating digital information
- the evaluation strategies of fact-checking and lateral reading
- deciding who to trust
- using Wikipedia
- evaluating evidence including photos, data, infographics, video, and images
- click restraint
- social media.
The printable back-to-school activities for the classroom encourage active listening and spur students to consider how they can more effectively understand, evaluate and use information online.
The episodes run for approximately 15 minutes, so the mini-lessons could run for between 30-45 minutes depending on the class. Or you could set the videos as homework.
The bundle includes a printable worksheet as well as teacher notes for each episode in the series.
How and why we read
- the to that annoying question ‘Why are we reading this?!?
- how written stories differ from spoken stories
- why reader interpretation is important
- the importance of literary devices
- how reading helps us as people
Get yourself organized
Now, you (hopefully🤞) have a chance to catch your breath and get yourself organized for the term, semester, and year ahead.
I personally am not one of those people who can plan a whole term worth of work and have meticulous color-coded folders with activities created, printed, and slotted into the folder.
I tried to be that teacher my first few years teaching, but found that I ended up having to do major re-shuffles because of random events scheduled during class time, activities taking loads longer than I anticipated (or worse, shorter 😱), or other inexplicable interruptions.
It drove me batty, so I decided I would do a basic term and unit outline, making sure to note dates that were known in advance to interrupt my lesson, and then I would plan lesson by lesson.
That structure seemed to work for me. I would occasionally work a lesson ahead if I was able to, or if I had taught the unit before, but that’s about it. It reduced the stress of knowing where I had to get my students by the end of term, but gave me the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances.
If you do none of the printable back-to-school activities we’ve discussed so far, please save yourself the stress and do this one (or at least make your own version).
Templates included in the folder are
- a welcome letter
- general information reference page (think: daily schedule, class policies/procedures, points of contact etc)
- lesson plans (for planned absences)
- emergency plans (for unplanned absences when you don’t have the time or ability to create a lesson plan)
- technology instructions
- emergency procedures
- seating chart
- class lists
- attendance form
- daily report (for the guest teacher to provide a quick note about the lesson)
Back to school bundle
The bundle includes over 80 pages of forms, spreadsheets, letters, and more! Included in the bundle are
- Bloom’s taxonomy thinking stems posters
- inspirational quote posters
- hall passes
- exit passes
- classroom management resources
- back to school/get to know you social media profile worksheet
- classroom rules posters
- parent night presentation
Another great tip for those who are starting out is to check out It’s Lit Teaching’s website. She has an email series that gives great pointers for getting organized as a beginning teacher. She even throws in a few freebies.
Get to work