Recently Amy (aka TpT Community Manager Extraordinaire) asked our Teacher-Sellers for practical tips or solutions for navigating specific back-to-school challenges.

The responses were so great I had to create a spreadsheet to organize them all and pull out the common threads. I hope you all find these back-to-school tips as timely and encouraging as I did. Without further adieu, here are some tips that bubbled to the top of the list:

Back-to-School Tip: Over Prepare

Overwhelmingly TpT’ers agree that you have to over prepare.

CrazyScienceLady said, “I always try to have everything on hand that a student might forget… Pencils, erasers, bus number, lunch code, extra schedule, etc. I always stand in the hallway between classes to act like a guide on an airport runway. I make my homeroom kiddos magnets with their name and locker number to put on the outside of their lockers so they can find it easily. I also bring in a snack (usually popsicles) to end the first day and send them home happy and confident at the end of the day. It’s very stressful for a first time middle schooler to navigate the new middle school.”

She offers An Introduction to Scientific Inquiry as a really fun first day activity/ice breaker. Oh! Did I mention it’s FREE?

Back-to-School Tip: Make the Kids Feel Welcome

Clearly middle schoolers are not the only ones experiencing first day jitters.

Crayonbox Learning has a very sweet suggestion to send out welcome cards to students before they arrive on the first day. “I sent out welcome postcards ahead of time, with a hand written note on it for each child.” She goes on to say, “The classroom community is established right away with the buddy system. (Buddies are great for seating, learning the rules, lining up at the door, going to lunch, learning groups, etc). In addition to having a buddy system, I’ve found that clever (FUN) name tags that either match the classroom or school theme set the tone for the week too.”

Back-to-School Tip: Learn The Kids Names ASAP

Speaking of name tags, there’s a HUGE call to learn the student’s names.

UtahRoots puts it plainly; “Learn your students’ names ASAP—before day 1 if possible. Get copies of class photos or a yearbook from last year and start memorizing faces and names.  I did that when I was teaching middle school (27 years).  It’s really amazing to stand at the door and greet students by name as they enter your class for the first time.  They know they matter to you, and that matters to them.”

For the younger grades, Christine Maxwell offers fun Picture Frame Attachments with themes to use through out the year in lots of creative ways.

And, for a whole bunch of first year teacher back-to-school tips, take a look at this blog post from Stephanie Stewart’s blog Falling into First.

Wowza, there were lots more great back-to-school ideas, I just didn’t have room to fit them all here, so please stay tuned for the next installment!
Falling Into First