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Back to School Guide

Educator-tested tips, advice, and resources for a successful start to the school year.
Published: 06/04/2019

Students may still be enjoying their summer vacations, but for educators, the beginning of the next school year is just around the corner. NEA editors have compiled a list of our best articles and resources to help you - whether new or veteran - get ready for the fall semester.

Classroom Setup

Three Tips for a Welcoming Classroom
Is making connections with students on your daily to do list? The most powerful thing we do each day in the classroom is not on a checklist, and it can’t be measured or analyzed. Check out these tips on creating a safe learning environment.

Classroom Setups
Mastering the art of arrangement can make all the difference in your classroom.

Assessing Your Space
What to consider when planning your classroom setup.

Using a Theme
An elementary school teachers shares advice for decorating a classroom around a theme.

Altering the Space in Your Classroom to Enhance Student Experience
Making your classroom more comfortable can make your students more successful.

KonMari Does More Than Just De-Clutter the Classroom
The popular Marie Kondo method of tidying up has inspired some educators to look at the stuff that sparks joy in their classrooms.

Hygge: The Classroom Design Word that Means Calm
The first day of school is exciting—and also a little anxiety-provoking. But with a few calming classroom design elements from the popular Danish design trend hygge, you can help put your students at ease the minute they walk through the door.

Stocking the Classroom—For Free
Savvy educators' tips on scoring no-cost classroom resources.

Prepping for the First Week


Create A+ Days That Last all Year! A Back-to-School Guide
Here are some great tips for conducting class, managing your classroom, and making fresh-faced students feel comfortable. Make it an epic year!

8 Ways to Make Students Feel Welcome on First Day of School
First impressions matter. Here are some suggestions on how to make your classroom safe and welcoming on the first day of school.

How Do You Kick Off A New School Year? 
Educators share their strategies to break the ice and get students ready for a new year of learning.

Classroom Survival Kit
NEA members recommend must-have items for the classroom.

Ten Must-Haves for New Teachers
Kick the year off right with the right stuff.

33 Ways to Start the First Year Off Right
A little planning before school begins can pay big dividends throughout the school year.

Stay Positive and Pace Yourself: A Survival Guide for First-Year Teachers
A second-year teacher pays it forward with advice and tips to help new educators.

Classroom Management

Back to School Means Back to Work
This tip can help you set an important classroom precedent right off the bat.

Educator's Survival Guide
The go-to source for safely surviving common classroom conundrums

Setting Up Rules and Routines
Ways to keep things running smoothly so you have more time to teach.

Discipline Tips from Drama Teachers
Your classroom is your stage. Use it to command attention and respect from students.

Music and Rhythm Games to Keep Your Students Focused
As you enter your new year, try these games to keep your class engaged in a fun and different way! These games are all performance-based, meaning none of them require sitting with a pencil.

Strategies for Better Bus Behavior
How one savvy driver turns her troublemakers into helpers.

Management Tips for New Teachers
Learn how to bring order to the classroom, establish a positive climate, and reach your students.

Getting to Know Each Other
Aids and activities to help teachers and students learn about each other in the busy first days of school.

Why Middle School Students Can’t Stop Talking
And how you can accommodate them to keep things running.

Classroom Disruptors
What to do about out-of-control kids? Your colleagues share their strategies.

Breaking Up Fights
Basic techniques for school personnel.

Social Skills Kids Need to Succeed
Why we should teach manners and etiquette in school.

How to Build a Creative Classroom Culture
Building a safe and creative space does not happen by accident; instead, it takes time and effort. To pull the best out of your students, try these ideas.

Working with Parents

Parents' Handbook
Getting to know your students is just part of the back-to-school grind. This tip can help you start the year off right with PARENTS, too!

Dealing With Helicopter Parents
If parents hover too close for your comfort, Mr. Greenfield has some critical advice to help everyone have a smooth flight.

10 Ideas for Engaging Parents
Educators share their best ideas for communicating and partnering with parents.

Meet the Parents
Forge a strong partnership with parents by meeting them on their own turf.

Handling the Tough Parent Meetings
In this School Me podcast episode, Robert Rodriguez, a 15-year educator and now special education teacher from San Bernadino, CA, talks best approaches and strategies when it comes to having difficult meetings with parents.

10 Tips for Meeting with Challenging Parents
When dealing with challenging parents, try these tactics to prepare for and carry out parent-teacher meetings.   

Using Technology To Connect With Parents
From a new app to good old-fashioned email, here’s how some expert teachers are partnering with parents.

Welcoming ELL Parents into the Classroom
Having trouble engaging your ELL parents? Just follow along for our teacher-tested strategies.

Parent-Teacher Conferences
Preparing for and conducting successful conferences.

The Overzealous Parent
Strategies for working with helicopter parents.

Bringing Parents in the Picture
Building partnerships that last beyond back-to-school night.

Dealing with Irate Parents
What to do when Mom and Dad are furious over Ashley's failing grade? Advice from your colleagues.

Year-long Support

In First Year of Teaching, Acting More, Reacting Less, Can Reduce Anxiety
If this school year is your first as a new educator, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Exhaustion and stress will be a struggle, but there are steps you can take to survive your rookie year.

Six Ways to Avoid Social Media Landmines
Students, their families, and social media: what is appropriate? How do we professionally communicate without torturing ourselves over every Tweet, update, or Instagram pic? Easy! Try these six tips to share sensibly online.

Part of your job is to stay healthy and sane. For the sake of your health and your students’ performance, here are some steps to reduce stress

Lesson Planning
In this podcast, Annette Romano, a veteran educator with 31 years of experience from New York, shares tips for lesson planning for new and early career educators.

School Me
This blog and podcast series offers life hacks, tips, and advice for new educators from their veteran colleagues.

EdPractice Newsletter
Sign up to receive our monthly email packed full of advice, tips, and resources to help you be the best educator possible for your students.

NEA EDCommunities
ED Communitiesis a place where teachers, parents, school support professionals, and community members share ideas and resources to improve student success. The Professional Practice Communities is the perfect way to connect with colleagues on topics that range from math, science, and gifted to 21st Century skills, Common Core, Bullying, and Education Support Professionals. Join one of the established groups or start your own. It is free and open to all!

Keeping a Sense of Humor

A Beginner's Guide To Teaching
The three-minute lunch and 9 other tips you didn't learn in college.

Um, You, Over There ... is that Megan or Margaret?
A veteran educator struggles to remember students’ names.

Using Humor in the Classroom
In this School Me podcast episode, Dan Jordan, an elementary school teacher from Seattle, discusses how to incorporate humor in the classroom and use as a relationship builder and learning tool.

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