Back to School Blog Hop Week 5: The First Week of School My Must Do/May Do List

Thanks so much to Kyle for Kinder SPED Adventure for hosting this Back to School Blog Hop.  It has been great reading all these tips from so many bloggers.  I know I'm taking some tips back to school with me when I go back (in just 2 weeks, say what?!)

Who doesn't love Back to School time?  New students, new supplies, new clothes.  Everything is new and exciting!  It's easy to get caught up in that excitement, but it is also time to start a rapport with students and families.  It's also time to set those routines in your classroom.  I put together a simple Must Do/May Do list to help us all get ready for the school year.  The tips on the Must Do List are nonnegotiable items that help me set up for a new school year.  The tips on my May Do List are great things to do if you have the time to do them.

1. Send home a Back to School Pack
I wrote about my Back to School Pack {here}.  I make sure I send home this pack as an initial point of contact with my students families.  It gives them some information about me and our classroom.

2. Call Student's Families
It is important to call student's families and make a positive point of contact before the school year.  I express how excited I am to work with the student and their family this year.  I also invite new students to our class to come visit as I'm setting up for the next 2 days.

3. Start Building Routines IMMEDIATELY
You can sacrifice rigor at the beginning of the year, but don't sacrifice your schedule and routine.  I start my center rotations on day 1.  I have an idea of how I want my classroom to function and I have my students grouped.  From here I make little tweaks as needed, but our classroom routine starts IMMEDIATELY.  I also start functional routines with my students at this time.  When students rotate through their centers the tasks they are completing are usually very low demand.  I even set up some centers as reinforcement surveys.  I allow access to different reinforcers and keep data on what and how long students engage with different reinforcers.

4. Build Student Independence ASAP
I start my student independent work stations immediately.  The goal is to get these students to work independently so the staff will be free to work 1:1 with students in the coming weeks.

5. Have a Plan
While we are building those routines, you must make sure there is a plan.  I know my students can do some activities the first week of school (simple art projects, singing songs, beginning morning work tasks, etc) and I need to plan these activities out and HAVE EVERYTHING READY.  I don't want to be in a panic every day at 3:00.  If I know which art projects we will be doing, I prep the whole week before the students arrive to school.  Everything is ready and I'm not worried about prepping after school.

1. Get to know your Paraprofessionals
If you have new paraprofessionals, invite them in to visit!  Maybe they like to help set up.  My first year my IAs volunteered their time and set up my classroom bulletin boards.  It was a great time for us to get to know one another while being productive.

2. Prepare a Calendar of Events for Families
The more you can keep students families informed of what's going on at school the better.  For the most part, our students can't go home and tell parents what they did at school, let alone what's coming up.  I like to send home a monthly calendar of school events.

3. Begin Assessments
If your class schedule is going well and students are rotating through centers with ease go ahead and grab a few students and start your beginning of the year assessments.  You'll have baseline data and see if students have regressed on any of their goals over the summer break.

4. Start a Classwide Reinforcement System
Target a classwide behavior by implementing a class reinforcement system.  I use Listening Bears for my students along with a social story about student behavioral expectations. I reinforce student behavior with Listening Bears.  You can read more about it {here}.

What are some things that are Must Dos in your classroom?  How about  May Dos?

Now hop over to Christine's blog and see what her tips are for Back to School!


  1. Breaking my to-do list down like this would make a lot of sense. Sometimes I avoid must-do activities that I don't want to deal with by working on things that should really be on my may-do list instead. (I can't be the only one!)

    1. Paula,

      I always opt for a may do activity over the things I KNOW I should be doing!


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