Getting ready to start the new school year can be a stressful time for teachers. Even if you love your job, you still know you’ll have to put an end to the relaxing summer you’ve been enjoying for months and return to a hectic schedule of being surrounded by groups of students all day while also instilling knowledge in them for hours every weekday.

Decide What You Need to Do

Maybe you’re a first-time teacher or maybe you’re a seasoned veteran, but there are certain tasks that any teacher must do before the first day in order to have a successful, and hopefully smooth, year. The single most important item on your to-do list to complete is your lesson plans. You need to have a fairly solid grasp on what you wish to accomplish throughout the school year and make a plan to enact that. Develop daily goals and assessment tools to gauge your students’ progress. You don’t necessarily need to make each day’s lesson plan, but having the first couple of weeks figured out and general idea for the rest of the year will make your life a lot easier.

You’ll also want to check what supplies you have available in the classroom and what other supplies the school can provide you with before classes start. Make a list of all the supplies you may need: paper, pencils, pens, markers, etc. Once you have your list, see what’s in your classroom, what you may already have, and what the school can provide for you. If there are still supplies you need, you might want to take a quick shopping trip to Walmart or a craft store to stock up.

Organize Your Materials

Once you have all the materials you think you’ll need, begin organizing them. Sit down and read over your lesson plans for the first week. Set aside all the supplies you’ll need on those particular days and plan exactly what you’ll do in class. Identify any potential problems that could arise and rehearse what you’ll do to avoid or deal with those problems.

Head into your classroom and begin decorating! You don’t want your students to walk into a barren classroom, so brighten the room up with posters or whatever you believe works best. Arrange desks the way you want them setup and layout your own desk. You’ll be able to achieve some sense of inner peace by spending time in the classroom before the students arrive. Become comfortable with it and mentally check through your goals for the upcoming year. Turn your desk area into a location you associate with calm in your soon-to-be busy classroom.

Set Up the Foundation

Now that you have your classroom and plan for the year in order, it’s time to connect with your students. Put together packets to give them the first day that includes your syllabus, important contact information, and classroom dates, and a short survey for them to fill out in order for you to get to know them better. You may also want to send a letter to your students’ parents before the year even starts, just introducing yourself, outlining your plans for the year, contact information for the parents to use, and possible volunteer opportunities for them to get involved in the classroom.