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.

Female teacher wearing a mask teaching mathematics at school during Covid-19

by NEA Member Benefits

Aug 05, 2020

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From preparing healthy lunches and snacks to developing great lesson plans, getting back to school takes a lot of coordination—even more so this year thanks to COVID-19.

But you can set the tone for your home and school life by checking important action items off your list, instilling some healthful habits and setting smart boundaries. Here are four steps you can take now to set yourself up for a successful school year:

1. Gather ideas to try out in your classroom or for online learning

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. And with many classrooms going remote or hybrid, you may be trying to figure out which lessons will translate into online teaching or for modified learning schedules.

With these resources, you’ll start the year feeling confident and resilient, knowing you’re well-prepared for what lies ahead. 

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, whether in-school or online. From new outfits and backpacks to new tech for online instruction, 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

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