Setting Up for Success: Be Back To School Ready

Can you believe that it is already time to kick off a new school year?

Does that fill you with joy?

Have you already begun to purchase decorations for your classroom?

Does your personal laminator stay hot?

Honestly, I am officially at a point where I am beginning to build momentum in my excitement about returning to school and starting fresh with a whole new group of students. Now, if you had asked me about back to school a month ago, my response would have been extremely unpleasant. I’m that teacher that grumbles at the sight of little beings when I’m in Wal-Mart during the summer. ha ha

What about you? This teacher is actually trying to embrace her summer vacation? I haven’t printed or laminated anything. Checking my school email? Nope. No classroom decor shopping trips to the local teacher supply store for me! Nothing. My only focus is trying to experience this summer in the mindset of being on vacation. This has often been a struggle for me. But, not this year. My summer vacay mindset is in the zone!

A Pinterest pin for the blog post "Be Ready For Back to School Success".  Pictured is a young, smiling girl with her hair in two ponytails.  She has dark brown/black curly hair.  She is dressed in a grey, white, and black school uniform and is holding a sign that reads "Back to School".

Since the first bell will ring any minute, I must nudge myself away from my stack of personal development books (I just finished reading Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis) and start prepping myself for this school year. There are a few staples in my school year arsenal. Some are for kicking off the school year and some are perfect to use all throughout the year as they progress in skill/complexity. I wanted to share them with you because I think that you may find them helpful, too.

Classroom Management

First things first, avoiding that angst that can overcome us on the first day of school. You know that time! Dismissal Time. The end of the school day. “What do you mean you don’t know how you are going home?” “Why didn’t you say something earlier in the day?” Am I right? Oh my gosh, it’s funny now, but when it is happening to you, it’s mortifying! The panic overcomes you. Who can you find to help you in that moment?

We’re all here to help each other, right? I wrote a blog post all about it. In it, I share a clipboard dismissal form that I use every year. You can access the blog post and clipboard freebie here.

Behavior Modification Visual Cue Cards

I love these cards because they allow you to discipline with dignity, discipline with respect, and discipline discreetly. The visual cues that are on each card give you the opportunity to express your expectations in a visual and contextual manner. You can read all about how my Behavior Modification Visual Cue Cards came to be here.

A picture of a brown desk with 5 square-shaped cards on it.  Each cards has a graphic/clipart of students showing positive behavior or showing how to seek assistance in a positive way.
Here are just a few of the cards that you can find in this set.
Click on the picture to find more.

Behavior Modification Visual Cue Cards Set 2

This set was created to provide visual cues for more procedural and directional instructions within the classroom setting or as you want students to transition to a new location. They demonstrate expectations for lining up, cleaning up, waiting patiently, and many other follow through behaviors and expectations.

Click here to learn more about Behavior Modification Visual Cue Cards Set 2.

Handwriting Practice

If you are like me, penmanship is at the top of the must teach and much master skills. There is nothing worse than not being able to read a student’s handwriting. I struggled with that this past school year. I just wanted to toss the papers in the trash can (Yes, it was that serious! LOL), but that would mean giving the student a poor grade.

No one wins in that situation, of course, so I never did- but I REALLY wanted to! It made me wonder why their parents never corrected, or emphasized, the importance of legibility with them. If I cannot read your child’s writing as a trained educator (You all know that we can read backward, upside down and phonetically), I am more than positive that you can’t read it either. Not acceptable. Right?

I have you covered!

For my Kindergarten and First Grade Teacher Friends:

Zaner-Bloser Uppercase Letter Handwriting Practice

A paper featuring letters of the alphabet for students to trace and then try independently.  Capital letter B is the focus of the page.
I always loved when my kids would run over to show me their best B.

Zaner-Bloser Lowercase Letter Handwriting Practice

Two pages of handwriting practice are featured.  Lowercase j is featured on the bottom sheet and lowercase c is the focus letter for the sheet on top.  A yellow crayon and an orange crayon are displayed on the sheet, too.

You can begin the year with the uppercase letters and then transition into the lowercase letters for practice. Or, you can create a mini packet for each letter; stapling the uppercase and lowercase sheets together for additional practice. These sheets are so fun! I used them with my own students when I taught K and 1. Both sets are complete with letters from Aa-Zz.

You can click here to find the capital and lowercase sets bundled for you.

For my Second Grade Teacher Friends (and definitely Third Grade if needed):

Zaner-Bloser Sentence Writing Practice

Practicing penmanship doesn’t have to stop in Kindergarten and First Grade. Believe me, big(ger) kids need handwriting practice, too. We can advance our students and expose them to more complex skills WHILE simultaneously throwing in a little handwriting practice. They are usually too excited about advancing into sentences to notice that they are still practicing their handwriting skills. But, they are! Shhh.

You can find the Zaner-Bloser Sentence Writing Practice here.

Blends and Digraphs Sentence Practice

Layers of white sheets of paper that feature grammar blends (like bl, sm, and ph).  The sheets are for students to practice their penmanship.

Learning about blends and digraphs is just fun! How many words can you think of that begin with the /bl/? Make a list! Just like with the sentence writing set, my kids are usually so excited to be learning about blends and digraphs that I am not sure that they make the connection with practicing their handwriting. Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Sentence Writing Blends and Digraphs can be found here. I love placing one sheet in Literacy Stations each week. You are reinforcing grammar skills and providing additional handwriting practice!

Handwriting with a Splash of Phonics, Please

Long vowel sounds and spelling patterns can be so challenging for students. It seems like no matter how much emphasis I place on long vowel sounds and the different ways that they can be spelled, my students still don’t always recognize them. Sweet Third Grade teachers, we promise that we really are teaching phonics.

Writing and highlighting long vowel patterns just might be the extra kick that helps the information stick and stick in way that is transferrable. Phonics Long Vowel Spelling Patterns handwriting sheets are perfect for morning work, homework, or centers.

A close-up photo of 3 long vowel e phonics and handwriting worksheets.  The top sheet features the -ey spelling pattern and has a graphic of a jar of honey on it.  There are 2 colored pencils- one green and one red- laying on the paper.

Helpful Class Decor

I really wanted a fresh, new set of alphabet posters for my class. Moving from First Grade to Second Grade- actually, not just changing grades, but looping with the same group of kids- I knew that I wanted something that had a slightly more mature look. My alphabet posters were born and I love them! They are crisp and clean and bright. I love the color choices and I love the way that the picture cues are not the typical graphics that we typically see. I get compliments on them all of the time!

You can click here to have a fresh, new set for your classroom!

A display of 6 alphabet wall posters that feature the capital and lowercase version of the letters l through q.
This is a photo of a few of the cards that are included in this set. Don’t you just love that laundry basket?
Here’s a photo of the alphabet posters on my classroom wall. I was trying to capture the full wall for you, but just couldn’t fit them in the frame. Here’s a little section for you. Notice that cards for the hard and soft sounds are included!

Social-Emotional Well-Being & Awareness

A young girl in a classroom holding 4 small square pieces of paper.  Each square paper features clipart showing a group of culturally diverse children and a word that promotes the concept of Social-Emotional Learning.

Children’s social and emotional health is at the forefront of our teaching practices and experiences. We are the nurse, guidance counselor, friend-mender, self-esteem builder and shaper, life changer, and (really) then educator. They touch our hearts and we touch theirs. Social and emotional learning involves relationship building, managing emotions, and many other aspects that involve the heart and how we see ourselves and others.

According to

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

You can learn more information on the competencies of SEL at their website. I created a set of Social-Emotional Learning Brag Tags to help promote the competencies and to promote positivity and build my students’ self-esteem. You can find the Social-Emotional Learning Brag Tags here. They are bright, colorful, and send sweet reminders to students about themselves and about themselves in relation to others!

I hope that you find these resources to be really helpful.

Please let me know if there is a resource that you are looking for.

Have an amazing school year!

A caricature of Tania N. Davis of Teach Me T


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A Black female standing in front of three black boxes that are stacked on top of each other. I am wearing a blue, denim dress that is tied at the waist. My hair is in long braids.

Hi, I'm Tania!

I help creative and time-conscious teachers plan student-centered lessons that interest and motivate student learning so that lesson planning takes less time and is actually enjoyable! 

Learn more about me and how I can help you here.

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