4 Steps to Start Your School Year Right

Take the stress out of getting yourself back to school with these smart solutions for teachers and other education professionals.

Elementary teacher at the front of her class with a welcome back to school message on the whiteboard behind her

by NEA Member Benefits


From packing healthy lunches to preparing great lesson plans, getting back to school takes a lot of coordination. You can set the tone for your home and school life this year by checking important action items off your list, instilling some healthful habits and setting smart boundaries. You’ll walk onto campus feeling confident and relaxed, knowing you’re well-prepared for what lies ahead.

Here are four steps you can take now to set yourself up for a successful school year:

1. Gather fresh ideas to try out at school

As you get yourself ready for a new batch of students, you may be assessing what worked well last year and what you’d like to improve this year. Whether you’re a new educator or you have decades of experience, discovering new and better ways of doing things encourages continual improvement, productivity and harmony.

These professional tips can help you organize and optimize your school days:

2. Stock up on supplies—for yourself, your family and your classroom

School budgets often are tight, so many teachers dig into their own wallets to pay for the classroom supplies and decorations they need to create a welcoming, productive learning environment and to support their lesson plans. Teachers spend an average of about $500 on classroom supplies each year, but of course many teachers spend a lot more than that!

In addition, many teachers also are getting their own children ready to go back to school. From new outfits and backpacks to new classroom supplies, you need to stretch your budget to afford everything everyone in your household will need.

Try these back-to-school shopping tips to save time and money:

BONUS: Related shopping discount benefits for NEA members

  • You can save time and money by shopping online for the back-to-school supplies you need at a variety of retailers through NEA Click & Save
  • The NEA Cash Rewards Card offers customizable cash-back rewards, so you could maximize your rewards if you buy back-to-school classroom supplies, clothing, backpacks and more online, including via NEA Click & Save
  • Sign up for a new Costco membership to buy back-to-school clothing, supplies and more in bulk and save
  • Sign up for our free NEA Member Shoppers Guide newsletter to get special deals delivered to your inbox each month

3. Focus on your own well-being

Being an education professional is rewarding, but it also can be stressful. Standing all day, scarfing down lunch between classes and working long hours all can take their toll on your physical and even mental health.

Act now to create some new good habits that will support the demands you’re placing on your body throughout the school year. By prioritizing your own health, you’ll have enough gas in your tank to support your students and your family, too.

These wellness tips can help you focus on yourself:

BONUS: Related wellness benefits for NEA members

4. Set-and-forget your finances now

Carve out a bit of time before the school year kicks into full swing to give your finances a once-over. You can create and adhere to an everyday budget as well as review your long-term financial goals to determine whether you need to bump up your regular retirement savings allocation during open enrollment, shore up your emergency savings account, adjust your student debt repayment options, increase or reduce your insurance coverage based on any recent changes in your life, and more.

These finance tips and tools can help get started:

BONUS: Related financial wellness benefits for NEA members

Solutions to help you get back to school