Back to School Preparations

Welcome back from Summer! To start, I have a couple of announcements:

1) I was promoted to associate professor with tenure this Summer! 

2) I have finally figured out how to share Trello templates! You can find links to my teaching, project, and work board templates in my new Trello Boards page

Back to School

So, back to school . . . This has always been one of my favorite times of year, so probably not that surprising that I ended up as an academic :-).  Since the public schools in Albuquerque start August 12, and my university classes start August 19, I basically consider the beginning of August the end of summer and the beginning of back to school prep.  

As a child, I was always excited for new classes and new office supplies and I would eagerly await my school supply list.  Most exciting were the colored pens, so I guess some things never change :-).  As a professor, no one gives me a back-to-school checklist, so I’ve developed my own over the years, that I use at the beginning of each semester.  While there is also no reason I couldn’t do these things during the school year, I find that reviewing all of these areas and making sure I’m stocked up for the semester helps prevent stressful moments and save time and money (both premiums for academic parents).  Indeed, most of the things on this list have their origins in a stressful moment, such as wanting caffeine after being up all night with a sick kid only to discover that I’m out of coffee and forgot my wallet at home (fix: stock lots of coffee and a $20 bill in my office as backup).  Or, that time I neglected to purchase holiday flights until a few weeks beforehand and found the only ones left were non direct (misery with a toddler) and more expensive (fix: purchase flights before the semester gets crazy or at least put a calendar reminder a little farther in advance).  

So, what goes on my back-to-school checklist? All of the things below, in a mix of paper and Trello checklists.


  • Review the previous semester and make semester plan (you can see examples in these posts)
  • Clear out Trello boards for work, home, and dance (see this post for the work one)
  • Review morning, afternoon, and evening routines for all family members (especially with shifting teaching/after-school care or activities schedules)
  • Review kid pick-up/drop-off plans with my husband (related to the above)
  • Revise ideal weekly plan on google calendar (do I have a post on this?)


  • Review travel plans (work, dance, family)
  • Purchase travel (or if not possible for financial/logistical reasons, put a reminder to purchase it at a specific time)
  • Block off travel days on calendar (including packing/unpacking time)
  • Stock travel toiletries (I have a specific list of toiletries)


  • Set up teaching Trello boards and follow the steps on there (see this post)
  • Set up/clean up research/service Trello project boards


  • Stock office supplies (I have a specific list)
  • Stock chocolate covered espresso beans (yes this is its own line item)
  • Stock coffee
  • Stock snacks
  • Stock money
  • Stock personal hygiene products
  • Stock tissues and paper towels
  • Check umbrella and sweater are still there


  • Check clothing and shoes (myself and kids)
  • Check seasonal clothing (snow, swim, etc.)
  • Check work, school, lunch, and activity bags
  • Stock make-up (I have a specific list, or sometimes I decide to skip make-up for the semester)
  • Stock medicine cabinet (I have a specific list)
  • Check/make appointments for physicals
  • Haircuts (myself and kids)

Dance (Okay, probably not relevant to most academics but insert your hobby here)

  • Set up class schedule
  • Set up registration
  • Plan curriculum
  • Email dancers
  • Set up/clean up project Trello boards

So with all of these items, you can see why I need several weeks to accomplish them! What do you put on your back-to-school checklist? Or do you have any suggestions for mine?





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *