How to reset your classroom for the first day of school

Amanda Shroyer is the Director of Muddy Feet Early Learning in Markle, Indiana, and a HiMama customer! Every year, Amanda resets her classrooms for a fresh start in September. This year, we asked Amanda exactly what it is she does to “reset” her classrooms. Here is what she had to say!

August in our center always starts a little crazy. Our town sits in two counties, which means some of our school kids head off to their new school and won’t return until a break, and the other group of school kids stay to get on and off the bus. Plus, we get the honor of seeing our new Kindergarteners get onto the bus for the first time. The first day of school is always bittersweet, but it marks a moment of reset in our building. We typically do classroom promotions in August, meaning most teachers have a new group of children. We start our preschool year in September to give the teachers a chance to learn about the interests and needs of their new group and set up a classroom habitat that meets their needs. If you have ever had a training with Lisa Murphy, you know she tells you not to do anything for ten days after the training. She does not want you to go back to your room and try to change everything at once. We bring that idea into our classrooms for new hires, during promotions, and when teachers change classrooms. We take two weeks to get to know the children. Our lesson plans are basic to allow flexibility and room to follow the interests of the children. 

This is our classroom reset checklist: 

  • Remove any artwork that was displayed or left behind. While some of it is worthy of being sent home, the big stack of random drawings can quietly go into the recycle bin or put into a sensory table with scissors. 
  • Our classrooms have displays of family photographs. These displays come down in August, and we ask families to send us new photos. If you don’t want to throw the pictures away, they can be added to dramatic play areas or sent home with the children. 
  • Do a supply audit. Take a moment to test the markers, check the play dough, make sure the glue still works, and clean off the watercolor trays. There’s something extraordinary about starting the school year with fresh supplies. 
  • Go through your library and repair or replace the books that have seen better days. This is also the time to rotate our classroom libraries and add books about school, sports, farming, fall, or anything the children are interested in reading about. 
  • Take time to wipe down shelves, cabinets, and other surfaces. While wiping shelves, clean your toy bins and replace any broken ones. Our kids love helping with this job! They can help wash toys, containers, and shelves and sort toys into the correct bins. If you have a checklist of required materials, review the list as you put stuff back on the shelves. If you have materials that do not meet your children’s needs, swap them out for something else. 
  • Is your classroom visually noisy? If you can, sit in your classroom when it’s empty and relax in the environment. In the quiet moments, you notice that the poster needs to be replaced, the decorative items that served their purpose and could be rehomed, and the labels that need to be updated. 
  • It’s equally essential to reset your teacher space in the classroom. Take time to go through your planner and get it ready for the next school year. If you have a desk, go through the drawers, and toss anything you haven’t touched in a while. Sort through any stacks of paper and recycle what is not worth keeping. You know all those promotional pens you have in a drawer? Put those in your writing center for the children and your favorite pens within your reach.
  • As someone who sees treasure in about anything, this step can be painful. Take time to sort your teacher hoard. If you have had that bag of toilet paper tubes for over a year and haven’t used them, plan to use or recycle them. If you don’t have a plan for them, add them to your shelves and let the children create a plan for them! Resist the urge to pass your hoard to someone else.  

As the executive director, I use August to reset my office and shared spaces in the building. The method that has worked best for me is to walk around the building with my phone and take a picture of anything that needs my attention. When I return to my desk, I go through the pictures and list everything I need to do. 

This is what I’m looking for when I walk through the building. 

  • Main Entry
    • Does everyone have a family mailbox? 
    • Do I need to print more forms or restock the payment envelopes?
    • Are the posters on the family board up to date and in good condition?
    • Is anything displayed that has served its purpose and can be removed?
    • Do we have actual pens on the sign-in table, or have they been replaced with colored pencils?
    • Does every child have a cubby? 
  • Kitchen
    • Do any posters need to be updated or replaced? 
    • Are the safety files in the kitchen current? 
    • Is there any medication that needs to be thrown away or sent home? Are the medication files up to date?
  • Other Shared Areas
    • Is there anything broken or dirty that needs attention? 
    • Are the teacher resource areas tidy and stocked? 
    • How does it smell? How does it look when you first walk in? 
    • Are there any supplies that need to be restocked? 

I am the person who always has a project, who always has a crazy idea, and who never has a clean office. Even though I’ve been learning to create systems to help keep me more organized and focused, my office is usually chaotic. 

I do this to help me start the new year off right. 

  • The first thing I do is file papers. It’s the task I dread most, and doing it first gets it out of the way so I can focus on everything else. 
  • After I file papers, I look through my files and pull out anything that can be digitized and then shredded. 
  • We love having special days, which come with accessories. I usually have a small pile of photo backgrounds, leftover party favors, and decorations that need to go back into their tote for next year.
  • Just like I encourage my teachers, I clean out my desk. I sort through the drawers, wipe off the top, and toss out anything that no longer serves a purpose. 
  • I take time to look through my email list and add or remove families as needed. 
  • I check our supply stash of teacher supplies and extra school supplies and make a list to share with families. 
  • Finally, I prepare my planner and calendars for the final few months of the year. I list any tasks that need to be done, update our Google calendar for families, and start planning activities for the end of the year. 

What I love about August is the common goal of preparing every part of the building for our new school year. When our environment looks better, we become more confident teachers. 

Amanda Shroyer
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To learn more about how HiMama and FunShine Express support early childhood educators with expert-designed, research-backed and ready to use curriculum for the back-to-school season click here!

Maddie Hutchison

Maddie is a Registered Early Childhood Educator with a Master's in Early Childhood Studies. Her specialty is in Children's Rights and she is currently a Content Strategist for HiMama!

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