Back to School Tips for Middle School

I know, I know…

it’s not even close to the time that we should be planning or thinking about back to school. I wanted to share now though because if you’re anything like me, even if you just finished your last day, you’re already thinking about what next school year is going to be like. For a teacher, going back to school can be super exciting and super stressful. Thinking about all of these brand new little friends you are going to make and wondering how your classroom routines will change for the upcoming school year was always something that made me have all kinds of emotions. I don’t know about you, but I always started to plan for the upcoming school year very soon after my school year ended! I am truly an over-planner, to a fault at times, so I have all kinds of tips and things that I use to make the beginning of the year run as smoothly as possible.
To be honest, I usually have all of my copies made weeks before the beginning of the school year. I stock up on my Astrobrights paper and go to town making sure all of the “paper work” I hand out at the start of the school year looks beautiful and serves a purpose. I always hand out a course outline (get one free here), a welcome letter to parents, andhomework coupons. 

These are essential for back to school so that students and parents know the expectations in the classroom. I usually wait and hand these out to students on day 3 or 4 because the first couple of days are for me to get to know my students and for them to get to know me – and each other. 
I know, I know…

My homework coupons have always been a classroom favorite. I mean, who doesn’t like a good deal?! If students complete all homework on Monday – Thursday they get Friday Free!!! It is a super fun incentive and has made tremendous improvements in student homework completion since I implemented them a couple of years ago. 

The most important thing I do at the beginning of the year is to cultivate a growth mindset in your students within the first few days of school. I’ve found that fostering a positive classroom climate filled with the belief that if you believe you can achieve helps students be open-minded to the challenges they may face in their learning. If you would like to read more about how I cultivate a growth mindset in my classroom, check out this blog post. If you just want to get to the fun, here is a bundle I have in my store with all sorts of growth mindset goodies you’ll love! 
Aside from doing all sorts of growth mindset activities I also make it a point to interact with my students with some fun icebreaker types of activities. I usually have 2 or 3 different preps (meaning I teach a different grade level, section, or challenge level), and there have been times that I have some of the same students in another section that I am teaching. So I have a few different variations of activities that I use. 
This student interests questionnaire is a questionnaire that I use with students and have them share with a partner, then I have their partner share one fun fact about them from their survey so they can introduce each other to the class.  
I also play Getting to Know You Bingo that my students always LOVE! You can play this like traditional bingo, but I have used a variation that my students always find to be really fun. I have them walk around and ask other students if they have something in common with them. So for example if I have a dog and I want to cross off that space on my bingo board I would have to walk around the classroom to find a classmate who also has a dog. If I find someone, that person will put their initials in the bingo space for “I have a dog”. This icebreaker continues until someone gets BINGO with 5 different people in the class. 
The next activity I use are these Getting to Know You Task Cards. These task cards are perfect for getting to know your students and for them to get to know one another. I use them as a walk about activity. I post the questions all around my classroom and have the students find the questions in different orders to get them up and out of their seats. The students love finding and answering all the questions (and of course sharing their responses). I know your students will love this icebreaker! 

My favorite activity to use is this Math and Me Booklet. It is a way for me to get to know how my students feel about math and ways I can help them be successful. They love creating the booklet and making a memory to look back on at the end of the school year. We keep them in a time capsule and then revisit them at the end of the year to see if any of their goals have changed and/or if they accomplished what they wanted to this school year. 
Now of course you are going to want to establish your classroom routines and procedures super early on as well, but I feel like spending a couple of days ensuring that you are building and fostering relationships with your students is critical. If you would like to read about ways that I establish my classroom routines and procedures check out this blog post.
So, the beginning of the year can be a super fun time to get to know these amazing little humans that you will be with for the next 180 days. Get these fun activities ready and prepped now, and you will have your first few days of school prepped and ready! Woo Hoo!