Ten Things Teachers Should Do Before Going Back to School

back to school


I realized today that my back to school inservices start in about a month.  My to-do list is a mile long – set up my whole classroom, figure out how to do guided math, finish reading my required summer book, take care of my children, clean my house. . .the list goes on and on.  I’ve really enjoyed summer so far.  Our trip to Disney World was amazing.  We’ve spent days relaxing at the pool – at least as much as you can relax with a 2-year old running around.  However, now it’s time to shift my thinking at least partly back to school.

As I was contemplating this today, it made me remember just how stressful the school year is.  We have to get our kids to two different places in the morning.  That means waking up at 6 to get myself ready, load the car, and make breakfast.  Then, I have to get two cranky, tired children dressed and out the door by 7.  The days when Miss M screams the whole way to the babysitter are the longest.  I feel like the day should be over before it’s even begun.  Next, I spend 8 hours at school helping third grade minds grow.  At the end of the day when I just want to collapse, it’s time to make supper, do bath time, and enjoy the little bit of time I have with my children during the school week.  Once they are finally in bed (and stay there), it’s time to do grading, lesson planning, and fall into my bed so I can do the exact same thing the next day.

Just the thought of all this makes the little ball of stress return to my neck.  That made me start thinking about what I can do to ease some of the stress of the school year.  I came up with the top ten things I want to do before the school year starts.  Some of them will help to make the year less stressful.  Others will hopefully help me maintain my sanity.  The rest are just a few perks to end my summer on a high note.  Try some of these ideas to make your transition back to school easier.


#1 – Make some freezer meals for really busy weeks.


back to school


I will continue to do my make-ahead meals on Sunday afternoons.  However, some weekends are just too busy to get them all done.  Then, I’m scrambling to get something on the dinner table after a long day at work.  Freezer meals can be lifesavers on those days.  I can just pull out a meal the night before, and it’s ready to go in the oven when I get home.  You can check out my freezer meal board on Pinterest.  There are so many delicious recipes out there, and they are generally quick to make.  I’m going to set aside an afternoon to stock my freezer.  That should help to alleviate some of the stress on those nights when the refrigerator is bare, and I only have a little bit of time to feed everyone.


#2 – Fill out your calendar now.

With my husband and I teaching at different buildings and my son attending school in a completely different district, there are a lot of dates to remember.  Add in meetings, soccer practices, and dance lessons.  With all of these things to keep track of, a calendar is super important.  Both of our school districts have their calendars posted for this year.  I take a little bit of time to fill in all the dates I know now.  Then, I add new events as I find out about them.  I use red for my school district’s events and blue for my son’s school activities.  I can just glance at the calendar to know what I need to do that day.  This helps to maintain my sanity when things get really busy, and I can barely remember what I’m supposed to be doing from one moment to the next.


#3 – Start adjusting your sleep schedule.

One of the hardest parts of going back to school is getting up early again.  Over the summer, I tend to stay up much later than I do during the school year.  Most mornings I am able to sleep in until 8.  I am going to start trying to go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier.  Hopefully this will make 6 AM easier once school starts.  Miss M has been helping me with this over the past few days.  She has just switched over to a big girl bed and is loving the freedom of being able to get out of her room when she wants.  She has been gracing us with her presence every morning between 6 and 6:30.  I’ll just keep telling myself that this will help relieve some stress when school starts.


#4 – Do a little bit of school work each day.

Setting up for a new school year can be very overwhelming.  There are so many things to do that you don’t even know where to start.  I find that choosing one thing to do each day makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something without getting burned out.  Right now I’m setting aside an hour a day to work on guided math lessons.  This is the first year we are doing guided math in third grade so it’s going to take some extra planning.  One nice thing is that my teammates and I divided up all of the enVision Math topics so we each only have to plan 4 topics instead of all 16.  Sharing the workload is another great strategy if there are other teachers at your grade level.


#5 – Stock up on snacks and foods for lunches.

 During the school year, I pack lunches for my husband, my son, and I.  I like to have a lot of healthy, easy snacks to stick in lunch boxes.  My husband and I love veggies with dip and yogurts.  My son enjoys cheese sticks, applesauce, and fruit snacks.  I start stocking up on these items when they are on sale now.  Just make sure to check expiration dates if you buy things ahead of time.  Having a well-stocked snack supply makes it easy to put lunches together quickly.  That helps me keep everyone fed and energized for the school day.

#6 – Get your feet used to your school shoes again.

Sore feet are one of my biggest complaints the first few days of school.  Flipflops and comfy flats are my go-to shoes for summer.  My feet get used to this comfort.  To remedy this problem, I start to wear my heels and other school shoes around the house a little bit at a time.  Easing my feet back into those shoes should help me as I’m walking around my classroom for hours.  I also think I need to invest in some more comfortable school shoes.  I’ve been reading some reviews of Tieks and might have to splurge on a pair soon.

#7 – Clean your house as much as you can now.

One of my biggest stresses during the school year is my messy house.  By Friday night there are piles of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, hampers overflowing with laundry, and toys strewn across the floor.  Somehow I can keep my classroom very neat and organized, but my house looks like a hurricane has gone through it.  My goal for this year is to have everything cleaned up before the first day of school.  Then, I can just spend about 15 minutes straightening up each night after my kids go to bed.  Hopefully, that will keep it from becoming a complete disaster.

#8 – Freshen up your school wardrobe.


back to school
My Trunk Club delivery


The beginning of a new school year is a great excuse to go shopping.  For me, that means ordering my next fix from Stitch Fix and my next trunk from Trunk Club.  You can click on the links to read my posts about these two awesome services.  I love having new styles show up on my front porch!  You can even make requests for specific items you need or the type of clothing you’re looking for.  I just told my stylists I need comfortable dress clothing for teaching, and we’ll see what they choose for me.  Whether you decide to try the clothing on in the comfort of your own home or you prefer to go to a store, be sure to get a few new pieces to update your wardrobe.  It will make getting ready in the morning a little less painful.

#9 – Pamper yourself.

Since it’s still nice and warm at the beginning of the school year, you’re going to want to wear sandals, right?  Therefore, a pedicure is a necessity.  While you’re at the salon, you may as well get a manicure and a haircut, too.  Maybe even a massage is in order to relieve some of the back-to-school stress.  This way you will be relaxed and look great when you’re meeting your new students and their families.

#10 – Enjoy the last days of summer with your family.

This is the one I have to keep reminding myself.  I have so many things on my to-do list.  I feel like I should be working on something all the time.  However, I have to remind myself to slow down and just enjoy the time with my kids.  They are only going to be this little for a short time, and I want to enjoy it as much as I can.  Once the school year starts, they spend more time with other people than they do with me during the school days.  I can’t wait to make more great memories with them over the next few weeks.

I am hoping that these ideas will help to make my transition back to school a little bit easier.  Hopefully they will work for you as well.  Do you have any other tips for getting ready to go back to school?

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22 thoughts on “Ten Things Teachers Should Do Before Going Back to School

  1. Hi Tara! I have been thinking of exactly almost all of these things lately, since I’ll be going back to teaching in September after quite some years of being a SAHM of two. I think organization is key and all of your tips are really great to make those busy weeks a lot easier and stress free. The last one is what I’m trying to do now , just enjoying my time off still, but I do get a little anxious when I think about what’s coming up! Will definitely try to make some meals ahead as well for those nights when everything just adds up! Have a great back to school start!

    1. Hi Katrin! I took a year off from teaching when I had my daughter. It was hard to go back, but once we got into a schedule it got easier. I’m glad you found my tips helpful! Best of luck starting the new school year!

  2. These are all great tips for teachers! The transition from flipflops and tennis shoes into professional shoes is a tough one! I have been retired for 2 years now and I can barely walk in heels anymore! I must admit, I’ve never made a freezer meal. I’m going to check out your posts on freezer meals. Thank you and have a wonderful school year!

  3. Great tips! I am a community college instructor and am getting overwhelmed by the thought of the new quarter starting in September…

    I know the more organized I’m now, the better the quarter will go… And I’m really looking forward to # 8, 9 & 10! 🙂

  4. First off, thanks so much for your service in shaping young minds! It is a job that has endless benefits but it is long, tiring and rarely do you get the kudos you deserve!

    Second, these are great tips for all of us. The summer is great, we relax more, but now we have to get down to business, and I hardly think any of us are truly ready for it.

    We don’t do “freezer meals” per se. But we will smoke an entire brisket and then split it up into 10 meals. I will bag the beef separately and then each night make something different with it. Chinese, mexican, soup, served with veggies and fries or mashed potatoes. Serve the beef on a great dinner salad. Tons of ways. We do the same with pork. Meat takes the longest time to prepare, this way we only have to do it once and then whip up rice or veggies etc.

    Good luck with the new school year and thanks again!

    1. Preparing the meats ahead of time is a great idea! I love all the different ways you serve them. That’s definitely another great time saver on those busy nights. I hope you have a great end to the summer!

  5. Great ideas. We love preparing freezer meals. I can’t remember the last time we ate fresh haha. It is the only way we can do it these days – there is too much to do in life to be stopping for “dinner creation” each week night. Much easier to pop something in the microwave that has been prepared earlier. Number 3 is SO important too. I remember one year I did not adjust my sleep schedule and I got a rude shock on day one back!

    1. Summer is my time for eating fresh. I love going to the farmer’s market and picking out fresh produce. Now I return to food prep on weekends and freezer meals to get me through the busy weeks at the beginning of the school year.

    1. Haha, my feet look forward to weekends and summer. I’m trying to avoid band-aids on every toe at the end of the first week by easing my feet back into my school shoes. Organization definitely helps to manage everything in the classroom and at home.

  6. Great advice! I’ve started adjusting my sleep schedule already and I’m totally wondering how I ever pull this off during the school year! I also love the make ahead meal idea – makes life so much easier when there’s food ready to go. Shredded BBQ chicken is one of my favs!

    1. Hi Shana! You’re right – shredded BBQ chicken is one of the best. It’s so quick and easy. I love throwing it in the slow cooker on Sunday and using it for lunches and dinners during the week. I hope you have a great beginning of the school year!

  7. Tara, I love this post! I have taught 3 years of pre-k, but after finishing my masters I will start my first public school journey in T-Minus 4 DAYS!! Ahhh! Anyway, I too, feel the pressure of my house being messy. I’ve been having too much fun doing other things! I love the idea of freezer meals! I am definitely heading over to your pinterest board to check out some of your meals!

  8. Great list! Taking the time to sit down and fill in the calendar is so important to me. Not just for my own teaching schedule, but also for my kids’ school year. Band practice, concerts, picture days, no school, etc. It becomes crazy fast, and this helps us keep it somewhat together 🙂

  9. The new school year snuck up on me as well! I can’t believe it- so much to do! I too am trying to work out how to do guided math this year. My district uses Go Math so that should be interesting. :/ Thank you for sharing a great list of things to do before September!

    Real Life in First Grade

    1. Hi Melissa! Planning for guided math is taking me a while since I’m trying to prepare for four different groups. Hopefully it will be easier after the first year. I hope you have a wonderful start to the school year!

  10. These are some really great tips! I need to desperately do the freezer meal one. As I’m a substitute teacher, my schedule probably isn’t quite as crazy. But, I do have two other jobs that sort of throw me for a loop time-wise. I have been getting back on my school sleep schedule. It’s the only way I can wake up in time for those 5:30 AM phone calls. O.o

    1. The school sleep schedule is rough at the beginning of the year. I really didn’t want to get up when my alarm went off at 6 this morning. Subbing and working two other jobs must keep you busy. Freezer meals are amazing when you’re getting home late and don’t have much time.

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