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.
- Digital Learning: Best Practices for Educators
- NEA Remote Teaching and Learning Courses
- Resources for Online Learning During School Closures
- How Teachers Are Integrating COVID-19 Crisis Into Their Lessons
- How to Conquer Common Back-to-School Stressors
- Classroom Management Tips to Start the School Year Strong
- Ideas for a Productive Back-to-School Night
- What I Wish I Had Known: Advice for First-time Educators
- 5 Things Your Students Need to Hear You Say
- Clever Hacks to Make the School Day Easier
- 8 Tips for Managing Stress at School
- Tips for Effective Online Parent Communication
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:
- Tips to Buy Laptops and More for Remote Teaching Success
- How to Get Rewarded for Your Back-to-School Shopping
- 9 Ways to Stretch Your Back-to-School Budget
- Tips for Using Crowdfunding to Restock Your Classroom
- Stretch Your Supply Budget: 6 Tips from Classroom Educators
- Don’t Miss These Top Offers for Education Professionals
- Sign up with the new NEA Office Depot/OfficeMax Discount Program to shop online for laptops, printers, ink cartridges, paper and more
- Search for retailer discounts on supplies, electronics, clothing and more from NEA Discount Marketplace and, if you need buy now and pay later, NEA Easy Pay
- 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 Discount Marketplace
- 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:
- 5 Healthy Habits to Get Through Tough Times
- Reset Your Internal Clock
- 7 Work-Life Balance Tips for Educators
- How Busy Educators Are Fitting in Fitness
- Top Tips for Healthy Working Lunches
- 5 Ways to Protect Your Voice in the Classroom
- How to Prevent Hearing Loss From Classroom Noise
- 7 Habits of a Healthy Educator
- Save up to 50% on high-tech hearing aids for yourself and your adult family members through the NEA Hearing Aid Program
- Find affordable, comprehensive dental and vision coverage with the NEA Dental and Vision Insurance Program
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:
- Smart Ways to Stretch Your Budget Now
- QUIZ: Are You Financially Fit?
- Do You Need a Back-to-School Fiscal Checkup?
- 3 Financial Documents to Review as the School Year Starts
- 6 Simple Steps to Build a Stress-Free Budget
- How to Reduce Your Monthly Bills
- Prepare Now for These 6 Common Emergency Expenses
- How Educators Can Find Student Loan Debt Relief
- Why You May Need to Rethink Your Insurance Policies
BONUS: Related financial wellness benefits for NEA members
- Choose from several affordable life insurance and accident coverage options to help protect yourself and your family from financial hardship
- Build your emergency fund with an NEA Smart Money Account, where your money has the potential to earn higher returns and also be easily accessible in case you suddenly find yourself in need.
- Get a quote from the NEA Auto & Home Insurance Program to see if you can save on your auto insurance bill
- Run your numbers through the NEA Student Debt Navigator powered by Savi to see if you’re eligible to reduce or eliminate your student loan debt
- Get a realistic look at your future with the NEA Retirement Income Calculator, which includes your state pension data
- Both traditional and Roth IRA accounts are available through the NEA Retirement Program
- Protecting your paycheck through the NEA Income Protection Plan is especially important for newer educators who haven’t accrued much sick leave yet