First Day of School Checklist & Teaching Tips

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Get organized and prepared for the first day of school with this handy back-to-school checklist for teachers with helpful tips and reminders – an essential classroom tool for new teachers.

The start of a new school year can be extremely stressful and often can result in you feeling overwhelmed, trying to fit it all in before the first day. This teacher checklist helps you to prioritize the most important tasks and continue working through others after the first week of school. By prioritizing and organizing your workload, you can spend more time creating engaging, meaningful lessons for your new students and less time stressing over back-to-school preparations.

Designed for elementary teachers, this checklist covers all the essentials for the K-5 classroom environment. Combine with our classroom routines and procedures checklist to take all the stress out of your first week at school. For more great resources for high school and middle school teachers, browse our complete back-to-school resource collection.

New to teaching? Try our Teacher Toolkit for New Teachers for everything you need to survive your first year of teaching.

What To Do On The First Day of School

Particularly for new teachers starting the school year for the first time, the first days of school can be overwhelming. We’ve compiled an essential checklist with teaching tips and advice to help ensure a smooth start to the year. Read on for our top tips for the first day of school or download the printable for our full checklist.

Lunch count/attendance system

This may look different depending on your grade level. No matter what, you need to know how you are tracking which students are present and how/who to send that information.

Sharpen pencils, basic school supplies

Have at minimum pencils sharpened and crayons ready for use. They can be your recycled supplies from last year, but this way you are not counting on your students to be prepared for any activities you might choose.

Ice breaker activity

Have something together for the class to help resolve their (and your) first-day jitters. It can be a fun game, a getting-to-know-you activity, or you can pick a few to choose from in the moment!

Behavior system

Even though this won’t mirror a typical school day, you are still bound to have behaviors. Prior to the first day of school, know what your consequences and rewards are for each category of behavior. This sets the tone for the rest of the year, so be ready!

Specials/events calendar

Depending on your school/grade, you may have a rotation of specials (gym, music, art, technology, library, etc.). In addition, the first few weeks have many events such as an open house or curriculum night. Have a printed calendar for at least the first month prepared to send home with the necessary information.

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About the author

Olivia Bechtel


About Olivia

Since 2016 Olivia Bechtel (B.Arch., M.Ed.) has been a 1st grade teacher at a school near Columbus, Ohio, where she has also worked as an Intervention Specialist. Olivia’s… Read more

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