July 25, 2021

Back to School Ideas for Upper Elementary Teachers

A back to school coloring page for elementary students.
Are you an upper elementary teacher planning for the first week of school?  This time of the year always stirs a wide variety of emotions for both students and teachers.  It is normal to feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety.  As teachers, we want to be well-prepared and ready to welcome our new group of learners.  That begins with careful creation of a welcoming and fun environment for your young scholars.  But creating a positive learning atmosphere goes much deeper than hanging up a bunch of cute banners, posters, and classroom decor.  More important than the way a room looks is how it feels to the learners.  It is extremely important to provide a safe, non-threatening, and inclusive community for all students.  To help with this, avoid posting progress charts for all to see.  If you would like to learn more about the harm that public displays of progress can cause, read this article.

Focus on Positive First Impressions 

Show genuine interest in your students by greeting each of them kindly.  Instead of calling roll to begin the day, move about the room with a clipboard and attendance sheet.  Have every scholar tell you the name they prefer to be called.  Then practice pronouncing it until you can say it correctly.  It is not okay to ask for an alternate name or easier version to pronounce.  Respect your scholars by using their chosen names.

Avoid activities that could be triggers of previous trauma or negative experiences.  Skip the back to school assignments that require students to share their summer activities or events.  Remember that not everyone had positive experiences during break.  Some may have been exposed to traumatic or difficult situations.  A possible alternative would be to have students write about their dream vacation or a place they want to visit in the future.

Begin the Day with a Fun Quiz About the Teacher

Want to get your class laughing and having a good time?  Try starting the day with a fun pop quiz about the teacher.  It will give them an opportunity to learn some interesting facts about you in a nontraditional and unique way.  Don't have time to create a quiz from scratch?  Download this FREE Editable Pop Quiz About Your Teacher from Erin Levy Teaching by the Bay.

Pop quiz to get acquainted with a new teacher sample pages.

Encourage Your Students to Get Acquainted

Provide an opportunity for group interaction and team-building.  Use a small group activity to give your students a chance to connect with each other and begin making friends.  This Back to School Collaborative Poster Activity offers a perfect opportunity for your students to work in small groups, share facts about each other, and create a finished poster that can be displayed in the classroom.

Back to school collaborative poster for upper elementary

Offer Activities for Personal Expression and Mindfulness

Be sure to have something on hand during the first few weeks of the school year that encourages mindfulness and artistic expression.  Coloring pages, art projects, and journals are perfect for offering these qualities.  You may wish to have plenty of the Back to School Coloring Pages available for early finishers or quiet reflection at the end of the day.

Back to school coloring pages for elementary students

Have a great school year,

Janet Mitchell

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