Back to School is stressful no matter what. It’s always great to have a good idea of what things you need to do at the beginning of the year. Here’s my to-do list!

1. Meet the Parents Info

It’s easy as a non-classroom teacher to get overlooked, so be proactive. Put together something with the things our parents want to know: who you are, what you’re about, dates the might need to know and how to get ahold of you. Tell them what stuff their kids can look forward to and the things they need to know and it will help them get your team right out of starting gate.

2. Standards Checklist

Grab a checklist of the standards and make a copy for each class. When you cover a standard with a class, check it off and know that you’ve gotten everything covered. Sometimes it’s hard to give up control of creativity with the kids. Sometimes we don’t spend enough time on connections. Sometimes it’s just something else. (like pandemics) and you miss something. Be sure you have it covered. Snag some easy check lists here.

3. Decor

You want a cute, functional room. Pick something easy and cute but don’t overwhelm your kids. There’s been lots of articles coming out saying that too much is not good for kids. I can’t even handle over decorated spaces. So I keep mine pretty minimal. I haven’t been able to be back in my room to make it cute yet, but be sure to look for pictures!

The big keys:
– Functional: don’t put up stuff you aren’t using.
– Moveable: If you teach a lot like I do (preschool-5 general, choir and band), make it so that you can put up what you need for a class – I made an anchor chart stand that I flip to what I need and if not, it’s just a cute little poster. It makes it so much cleaner rather than overwhelming the kids or having stuff up for 1st grade that’s meant for middle school band.
– Colorful but cute: colors are great and engaging, but a rainbow explosion everywhere can be distracting. Combine neutral colors too for a cleaner look. All the furniture in my room is grey and light woods so the black and white helps the posters pop.

Vintage Record Store – I’m a huge fan this look – great for middle school and younger kids alike!


Some festive “I Can” statements. Fun and colorful. I love these to help give a nice bright touch this year. These come in printable and projectable to make sure there is some consistency this year no matter what the situation.


Anchor Chart Stand

I’m not a fan of huge displays and this is perfect to make sure I’ve got what I need without covering my walls with too much. It’s also makes my anchor charts portable!

4. Plot out your concerts and performances

This year will obviously be different for us, but I like to sit down and plot out my performances.
I start with the concert and then the pieces I want the kids to know.
– Break down measure goals by week.
– Mark similar sections (what’s the same, what’s different?)
– Break down the key signature, scales, new rudiments, new notes and markings.
– Break down each piece as a concept plan
– Plug into dates before concert with goals and when everything should be ‘performance ready’ or ‘cleaning’.

5. Check lists

I make check lists for everything: performances, field trips, open house, festival, conferences.
Other things you want to make sure you have plotted out:
– What to order
– What to make
– What needs copying/laminating
– Who to contact – field trips, conferences, parents, volunteer helpers
– Props to make
– Forms you need filled out every year: recorders, ukuleles, band tryouts, sign ups, musical auditions, permission slips for field trips…

You can snag templates for my check lists (for free!) if you sign up for my email list. Click here to get them.

6. Ensemble Handbook

If you have an ensemble, always double check it before you send it out. Go over policies, look for things that may have changed, that you need to add, or anything else you want to update.

7. Procedures

This year in particular is going to be SO procedural heavy, make a list of all the procedures you need for your class and write them out so you can go over them.  Here’s the start of my list:

  • Coming in the room
  • Handwashing
  • Masks
  • Sanitizing for the kids
  • Sanitizing yourself after each class
  • What you need to wipe after each class
    • Doors
    • Chairs
    • Seats
    • Anything shared
    • Your board/whiteboard
    • Your keyboard/iPad
    • Cart
    • Bathroom passes—(are we even using these?!)
    • Office passes/swipe badges
  • Fire drills
  • Tornado drills
  • Lockdown drills
  • Materials being passed out
  • Where to put things the kids bring with them (non-shared materials)
  • Line up
  • Instrument sanitizing
  • Music pass out
  • Instrument assignments
  • Uniform checkin/out – if you have them.
  • Materials pass out

8. Workshops/PD/Classes

Block out time for all the the things you want to do this year. Mine always include things for MMEA and MIKE so I make sure I’ve got them in there ahead of time, and even try to get subs for those WELL in advance.

Hope this is helpful!


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