4 things you should do before the first week of school

The weeks leading up to the beginning of the school year can be really overwhelming for teachers. I see a lot of teachers worrying SO much about how their classroom looks, that they often don't think about the logistical and organizational items that are much more important than having a perfectly decorated classroom. It's imperative to get some of the logistical tasks done before the first week of school so that you can put all of your attention and time on the kiddos those first few crazy weeks of school.

-Prep materials for your paraprofessionals before their start date 

Click here to find this visual zoning plan in my TpT.

Click here to find this lesson plan in my TpT.
It's crucial to have copies of lesson plans, zoning plans, behavior support plans, visuals and handbooks ready for paras when they walk in the door.  If you want your first few days with paras to be effective and efficient, then you have to be clear and direct about your expectations on day one (and give the information/ expectations to paras in writing).

If you need a paraprofessional handbook template, you can download my editable para handbook for free here.

-Make a substitute teacher binder. Just. get. it. over. with! 

It always surprises me how many teachers don't have a sub binder created by Thanksgiving break. I learned the hard way the importance of having a sub binder at the beginning of the school year... My first year of teaching, I got a nasty stomach bug the 3rd week of school and had to throw together emergency lesson plans from the bathroom floor. Don't make that same mistake! Have a sub binder ready before the kids even start. You can always go back and edit/ add to the binder if you have to make changes the first few weeks of the year.

Here's a link to the editable substitute teacher binder I use.

-Call every single parent.

The parent-teacher relationship is a really important piece to having a successful school year. It's helpful to call every parent before the first week of school, regardless of if you already know the parent or not. Introduce yourself to new families to your classroom and just call to check in with families who are returning. I promise that this will help you start the year off positively with parents!

-Dig into paperwork.

This probably isn't what you want to hear... but it's definitely necessary to dig through IEPs and paperwork before the kiddos start school. There are a few things involving IEPs that you should get organized prior to the year starting:

Due Dates & Service Time
Every year, I make a due dates chart that shows when my annual IEPs and re-evaluations are due. I also make a simple reference chart that shows the amount of service time each of my kiddos has.
These are from my teacher binder here.

Student Needs:
Make sure you identify if any of your students have specific behavior or health needs that need to addressed before the school year starts. For example, do you have a kiddo who you need to make a new first/then board or token chart for? Do you need to make a plan for a kiddo who elopes? Or do you need to make sure the school nurse gets a seizure action plan in place before the first day of school?

Accommodations & Modifications:
Make sure you're aware of all your kiddos' accommodations and modifications. I make a chart for this too (shocker) and I share it with all of the specials and general education teachers who see my kiddos. It's a helpful reminder to them that our kiddos should be getting the accommodations and modifications across their day, not just in the special ed classroom.

What things do you think are essential to do before the school year starts?