Skip to Content

Back to School Guide

Educator-tested tips, advice, and resources for a successful start to the school year.

Found In: advice & support, new teachers

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

Creative Classrooms on a Budget
Take a walk through the elementary, middle, and high school classrooms of three DIY divas for ideas on how to create your own inspiring, efficient, and thrifty space.

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

Classroom Beautiful: Do It Yourself
8 veteran educators share photos of their classroom and tips on how to organize your space for better learning.

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.

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

Prepping for the First Week

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.

Prepare For Flu As You Head Back to School
Simple steps taken now can help you be ready for a flu outbreak.

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

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

NEA's Custom Lesson Plan Search Engine
We've customized a Google search engine with 1,000s of lesson plans from across the Web, each one hand-picked and vetted by our Search Editor.

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.

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.

Ask an Expert
Need help with a specific classroom management problem? Post your question on our Classroom Management discussion board and receive an answer from a master teacher. While there, you can also advise your other help-seeking colleagues.

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.

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.

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

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

Practical classroom tips written by teachers, for teachers. Browse online, search for a specific topic, or sign-up for a weekly email and have the best tips delivered to your inbox.

NEA EDCommunities
EDCommunitiesis 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!

A website full of innovative lessons from effective teachers. Browse thousands of rich, Common Core-aligned Math and ELA lessons from high-performing Master Teachers.

NEA Online Community
Share advice, tips, questions, or opinions on NEA’s discussion boards. Topics range from advice for thwarting cheaters to getting students interest in P.E. classes.

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.

Caption This!
Try your hand at writing funny captions for our cartoons or read the submissions of your colleagues.

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

Favorite Homework Excuses
The dog really did eat it (And it was the Teacher's Pet!)

Top Education Cartoons of 2013
We round up the most shared and liked education funnies on NEA Today's Facebook page this year. Which did you share?


Union Made School Supplies List Stocking up for the new school year? Don't forget to support your fellow labor unions.


In a national television commercial called “Ready,” the National Education Association welcomes students and educators back to school.

advice & support

Best of Works4Me: Back to School

by NEA Staff editors

21 of the best back-to-school-themed teaching tips we’ve gathered over the years, each one authored the a real expert, an educator like you.