Back-to-School: Setting Goals, Nurturing Mental Health, and Embracing Green Practices

Back to School!

As the new school year approaches, it’s the perfect time to not only prepare for academic success but also setting goals, prioritising mental health and consider incorporating eco-friendly practices. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of setting goals for both teachers and students, provide valuable advice for teachers on maintaining their mental well-being and explore practical ideas to make going back to school greener. Let’s embark on a journey towards a purposeful, sustainable and supportive new academic year.

Setting Goals for Success: Teachers and Students


Set realistic and measurable goals for yourself. This might include improving instructional strategies, implementing new technology in the classroom, or focusing on personal growth as an educator.

Setting goals can help us  stay motivated and continuously improve our teaching practices.

You might also have a goal of not over working or taking your work home with you. Set work/life balance goals too… and stick to them. School is important, your students are important, but you are important too. Make sure you always set the goal of having time for yourself.


Guide students in setting their academic, social and personal goals for the new school year. Remember school isn’t just a stepping-stone to university.  It’s the place where doors begin to open, and ideas come to blossom.

Encourage your students to define specific objectives, create action plans, and regularly review their progress. This cultivates a sense of ownership over their learning journey and promotes self-motivation and growth. Not just, I want to pass an exam.

Here are three of our favourite ideas:

  • Goal Setting Workshop: Conduct a collaborative session where students identify their language learning objectives for the semester. Encourage specific and achievable goals, such as improving speaking fluency, expanding vocabulary, and achieving a certain proficiency level.
  • Personalised Learning Plans: Have students create individualized study plans outlining daily/weekly language practice. Emphasize the importance of consistency and track progress regularly to stay motivated and focused.
  • Goal Visualization Board: Encourage students to create visual boards representing their language goals. Include images, words, and symbols that inspire them to stay committed and visualise their success throughout the academic year.

Prioritizing Mental Health: Advice for Teachers

Self-Care Strategies

Remember to prioritise self-care throughout the school year. Look into mindfulness practices, regular exercise, healthy eating, and maintaining a work-life balance to prevent burnout and promote overall well-being.

Supportive Networks

Encourage fellow teachers to connect with colleagues and build supportive networks within the school community. Collaborative discussions, sharing experiences, and seeking advice can help alleviate stress and provide a sense of camaraderie.

Professional Development Opportunities

Remember the importance of growth. As teachers it’s important we continue with our own professional development. By enhancing our skills and keeping up with current trends in education, we can provide a better learning environment for ourselves and students.  Attend workshops, webinars, or conferences to expand your knowledge and your network.

Going Green: Sustainable Back-to-School Practices

Reusing Materials

Encourage students and their families to reuse school supplies from the previous year. By reusing items like notebooks, folders, and pencils, we can reduce waste and promote a sustainable mindset.

Uniform Swapping

Organise uniform exchanges or second-hand uniform  sales within the school community. This initiative not only helps families save money but also reduces the environmental impact of producing new clothes.

Carpooling and Walking Buddies

Encourage parents to arrange carpooling systems or find friends for their children to walk to school with, if it’s safe and within a reasonable distance. This reduces traffic congestion and air pollution while fostering social connections and physical activity.

When it comes to the classroom there are hundreds of ready to use materials available out there. A great place to start is Renewable English you can also check out out previous posts looking more closely at the LOMLOE and ideas for World Recycling Day. 

As we prepare to embark on a new school year, let’s embrace environmentally friendly practices, prioritise mental health, and set goals for success. By adopting sustainable habits, we can contribute to a greener future. Supporting the well-being of teachers ensures a positive learning environment for students. Finally, setting goals empowers both teachers and students to strive for continuous improvement and personal growth.

Back-to-school Activities


Last but by no means least, what would a back-to-school blog be without some ice breakers to get the year off to a good start? Here are a couple of our favourites!

All the students in my class

Start this game by practicing a little chant

“All the students in my class, I can say them really fast”

  • Have all participants stand or sit in a circle.
  • The first person starts by saying their name and an adjective that starts with the same letter as their name (e.g., “Joyful Jane”).
  • The next person repeats the previous person’s name and adjective and adds their own (e.g., “Joyful Jane, Clever Chris”).
  • Continue around the circle, with each person reciting the names and adjectives of all the previous participants before adding their own.
  • If someone forgets a name or adjective, they can ask for help from the group.
  • The game continues until everyone has had a turn.

Emoji Charades

Prepare a list of various emojis and their corresponding actions or phrases. For example, a smiley face emoji could represent “happy,” a thumbs up emoji could represent “approval,” or a crying face emoji could represent “sadness.”

  • Divide the participants into small teams or pairs.
  • One person from each team or pair takes turns acting out the emoji using only gestures, facial expressions, and body language, without speaking or using any props.
  • The other team members or the partner must guess the corresponding action or phrase represented by the emoji within a specified time limit (e.g., 1 minute). If students can’t think of the emotion it represents, they can describe the emoji


If you’re looking for even more ideas to kick off your school year then you need to look no further than the Back-to-School webinar series including session on Employability, AI, Future Skills, Sustainability and Accessibility and Diversity.

Let’s make this upcoming academic year one that is not only academically enriching but also emotionally fulfilling and environmentally conscious.