It’s holidays! It’s the start of the New Year, and if you’re anything like all of the teachers I know, your mind will already have started drifting back to the huge list of things you “need” to do during the school break! We all know that when it comes to preparing your classroom for a new school year that the To Do list is long. Which is why this post will give you a succinct list of things you can do during your school holidays to help prepare for back to school.
The key criteria for this list include tasks that are:
- and do not require you to look at any curriculum documents!
12 Simple Things to Do During Holidays to Prepare for the New School Year
This isn’t a checklist. Not by a long shot! Instead, it can be taken as a suggestion of jobs that might help you feel less at sea when your new class begins after the school holidays.
(1) Prepare Students’ Desk Plates, Name Tags and Labels
Teach Starter Top Tip:
Use your Teach Starter Gallery to create a “Word List” of your new students’ names. Then you’ll be able to use this list throughout the year when creating customised resources in the Teach Starter Studio.
For more ideas and information about customisable classroom labels, check out our post “Customisable Classroom Decor Templates”.
(2) Prepare Your Classroom Calendar
There are lots of benefits to having a classroom calendar visible for your students. We have a variety of classroom calendar resources that can help you set up something that can be used a teaching tool in the new year.
Here is a selection!
Find out how you can use your classroom calendar as a teaching tool in the post “15 Activities Using a Classroom Calendar”.
(3) Make a Birthday Chart
When your new class walk in and see their birthday already featured proudly on the wall they will love it! This is a fun little job to get done over the school holidays.
Check out even more of our birthday resources for fun ways to begin this part of your classroom decoration.
(4) Prepare Welcome Packs
You may like to prepare a little welcome pack for each of the students in your new class. This is a lovely thing to do if you are teaching Foundation level, beginning at a new school, or teaching at a large school where some of your new students may not know you that well.
Some ideas for things you could include in each student’s welcome pack:
- a “Meet the Teacher” letter
- one blank “All About Me” bunting
- a bookmark or a laminated positivity poster
- a set of Emoji-themed self-assessment desk cards
- classroom management resources such as Chill Out Passes or a lanyard for Brag Tags
(5) Prepare Packs for New Students
It’s likely that during the school year you may get a few new students that were not on your class list at the end of the year before. A great way to be prepared at short notice for these arrivals is to prepare a few ‘New Student Packs’. This might include one of the welcome packs you’ve created for the rest of your class, as well as an extra pack for yourself with one of each of the things you are preparing for all of your students.
For example, each of your ‘New Student Packs’ may include:
- a blank name tag
- a blank tag or template to add to birthday displays or welcome signs
- blank desk plate
- blank tray labels
- a blank sticker or reward chart
- a copy of any class welcome letters to parents and carers
- your daily classroom schedule
- a blank manilla folder ready for your filing cabinet.
(6) Set Up Your Filing System
This leads us to the next suggestion – setting up your filing system!
Regardless of how hard you work to reduce the amount of paper generated during the year, there will always be student work samples, tests and other papers to file. Spend some time preparing a filing system that is set up with your new students’ names. The way in which you organise your files will depend on what works best for you.
Teach Starter Top Tip:
Keep in mind that when new students arrive you will need to ‘slot’ their file in amongst the rest of your class files. Set up a filing system that makes it easy to manage a rejuggle of alphabetical order!
Don’t forget all of your computer files too! Take a little bit of time to set up the folder structure you need for storing your electronic files throughout the year. Doing this during the holidays means that when school returns, and with it the frantic mania of the first
few weeks, months, term, you won’t end up with a single folder or desktop full of files that never make it into their proper electronic home!
(7) Print New Resources
How fun are bright and colourful games which also teach our kids lots of new concepts? Very fun! And we have heaps of them at Teach Starter. This means searching and downloading games is easy – and this makes this a perfect holiday-night-in-front-of-the-tv task.
Print and organise the general classroom resources you know you’ll use with your new class. These might include some of the following:
Put them in some cute folders for storage and safekeeping and you’re ready to go!
(8) Get Your Tech On
School holidays are the perfect time to set up the tech stuff you will use with your class in the new year. If you are using a digital parent communication tool, setting up the accounts you need in advance will reduce the items on your back to school To Do List.
You may be setting up tech-based communication and learning experiences using platforms such as:
The magnetic pull between a teacher and a department store is strong. Officeworks, Kmart, Target, you name it! You’ll definitely end up at the shops at some stage during your holidays so figuring out what you need to get organised for your new class is a must.
Teach Starter Top Tip:
Plan it out! Heading into your local stationery or home organisation store without a shopping list is like buying groceries when you’re hungry. You’ll end up spending much more than you need.
TEACHING TOOLS & HANDS-ON RESOURCES
Think about this year and the kinds of tools or hands-on resources you know would have made your teaching life easier. Extra sets of dice? Playing cards? Magnifying glasses?
CLASSROOM DECOR & STORAGE
Are you already thinking about changes you might make to your current classroom set up? Here’s what you need to do!
- Get inspired! Think about the display and storage spaces that are available in your classroom and what you need to be able to store. Take a look through some classroom organisation ideas to help you figure out the best way to display materials and store resources in your classroom before you head to the shops.
- Choose a colour scheme. Think about whether you love rainbows, or would prefer to go with fairly neutral storage containers, boxes and display boards. You can always mix up the vibe of your classroom by adding a new colour scheme through posters and labels. Check out our classroom organisation and display resources before you decide on what to buy.
- Get creative! Sticking wrapping paper over display boards as a background is a great way to add colour to your classroom without breaking the bank. Print out your border trimmers and prepare your boards for the displays that will be added to them during the year.
(10) Cook Some Freezer Meals
Teaching is a crazy job. During term time, it has got to be one of the busiest working lifestyles around. Busyness can easily lead to the demise of making time for “simple” things like eating well.
Doing some meal preparation during the school holidays is one way to reduce the amount of “I’ll just get takeaway” paper bags that might end up in your rubbish bin, and should have you eating more than a slice of grilled cheese on toast when school gets really busy!
Take a look through these great lists of meals you can prepare and freeze ready to defrost and eat, as well as tips for cooking less and eating at home more.
- Taste.com’s collection of Freezer Friendly Meals
- One Handed Cooks’ 50 Freezer Friendly Meals
- Frugal and Thriving’s “Cook Once, Eat Twice”
(11) Take Time to Reflect
While it’s easy to spend a fair chunk of the holidays doing things to prepare for the new year, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the year you’ve just finished. Time spent in peaceful reflection isn’t time wasted – in fact, when you spend time thinking about what went well this year (and what didn’t go quite so well) it will help you refine how you spend your time and efforts in preparing for the new year.
You can download our Mindful Self-Reflection for Teachers if this is something you’d like to give some time!
(12) Plan ME Time!
Finally, and most importantly, in preparation for the new teaching year, take time to figure out when you are going to take time out when school returns. When the momentum of school returns it’s far too easy to put yourself last. And this? This is what leads to teacher burnout.
Be proactive and make plans for time out during the coming school year. Whether it be booking a weekend or two away, or purchasing a pass to a weekly yoga class, make concrete plans and stick to them.
Teach Starter Top Tip:
There will always be something that makes you feel like you can’t take that time for yourself during school terms. Know that even if you take that few hours a week, or weekend every now and again just to tap out of ‘teacher life’ and tap back into ‘you’, the rest will still all happen as it needs to.
For some ideas about planning ME time, check out these posts:
- What All Teachers Should be Doing During the School Holidays
- How Can Relief Teachers Stay Busy on the Holidays?
- Self-Care Challenge: 4 Mini-Moments Teachers Need Every Day
Remember that meme at the start of this post?
We know it’s true, which is why we want to help you figure out the best use of your time when getting organised for the new year. Hopefully, these ideas and tips (as well as all of our teaching resources!) will go a little way towards achieving that goal!