Dear New Teacher: How to Prepare for a New Year (Part 1)

As a new school year approaches, the excitement and anticipation can be overwhelming, especially for new teachers. Whether you are stepping into your first classroom, starting your first permanent contract, or even if you’ve been teaching for years, preparing effectively for a new school year is crucial. In this two-part series, we’ll explore key strategies and insights to help you start the school year strong, drawn from the expertise of Dr. Lori, a seasoned educator and author of the book Dear New Teacher.


new school year


Meet Dr. Lori

Dr. Lori, an expert on new teacher preparedness, brings a wealth of knowledge from her extensive career in education. Having taught elementary school for over a decade in Canada and overseas, and later educating future teachers at the University of Alberta, Dr. Lori understands the challenges faced by new teachers. Her mission is to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge from university and practical classroom skills. Let’s delve into some of her invaluable advice for getting ready for a new school year.


Setting Up Your Classroom for Success in a New School Year

Beyond Decor: Prioritizing Safety and Efficiency

While decorating your classroom can be fun, it’s essential to focus on creating a safe and efficient learning environment. Consider the following:

  • Visibility: Ensure you can see every student from anywhere in the room to avoid blind spots where students can get into mischief unseen.
  • Accessibility: Make sure all electrical outlets are accessible for plugging in necessary equipment.
  • Traffic Flow: Plan the layout to avoid bottlenecks and ensure smooth movement around the classroom.

Choosing a Classroom Theme

When selecting a theme for your classroom, keep it simple and functional. Avoid cursive lettering, which can be difficult for younger students or those with learning difficulties to read. Choose decor that is versatile and can adapt to different grade levels if you are reassigned mid-year.

Classroom Management Planning for a New School Year

Establishing Class Rules

Decide on non-negotiable class rules before the school year starts. These rules should promote respect and safety and be stated positively. Involve your students in discussing what these rules mean and how they can demonstrate them in their daily behavior.

Implementing Routines and Procedures

Think through and establish clear routines and procedures for daily activities. Consistency is key to reducing confusion and questions, saving you time and energy. This includes morning routines, transitions, and end-of-day procedures.

Whole-Class Positive Motivation

Using a whole-class reward system can help build a sense of community and encourage positive behavior. For example, create a system where students earn points for good behavior, leading to a class reward. This reinforces positive actions and fosters teamwork.


You may want to check out my “Kudos Club” classroom management system that helps build classroom community!

Natural Consequences

Natural consequences tied to students’ actions can be an effective way to manage behavior without being punitive. For instance, if a student runs in the hallway, they might need to go back and walk properly. This approach helps students understand the impact of their actions and learn appropriate behavior.

Building Relationships and Community

Fostering a positive classroom environment from the start is crucial. Use whole-class reward systems to build community and avoid individual competition, which can be discouraging for some students. Celebrate collective achievements and create an inclusive atmosphere where every student feels valued.


Preparing for a new school year involves thoughtful planning and a focus on creating a safe, efficient, and positive learning environment. By setting clear rules, establishing routines, and using positive reinforcement, you can set the stage for a successful and enjoyable school year. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we will delve deeper into more strategies and tips to help you thrive as a new teacher.


Remember, preparation is the key to reducing stress and ensuring a smooth transition into the new school year. Stay organized, be intentional, and most importantly, foster a classroom environment where every student can succeed.

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