Tuesday, May 9, 2017

12 Tips for Packing Up Your Classroom

The end of the school year is quickly approaching. It's the time of the year where we are all running on caffeine, chocolate, and visions of warm sandy beaches. Some days it seems like the end can't get here soon enough! But with the close of every school year comes a never ending "to-do" list. It feels like you've got a years worth of work and only a month {or less} to do it in. It can be so overwhelming and stressful, but with a little thought and planning it doesn't have to be. Today I'm going to give you a few tips for packing up your classroom. These are tips that I've used to make the end of the year a little less stressful.
From one teacher to another, helpful tips to get you ready for summer! The end of the school year can be stressful. There is so much to do and so little time. But with a little planning you can easily get your classroom ready for summer with little to NO stress.

Prioritize. 
What jobs are considered "must do"? Which ones are the "I'd really like to" projects? Make a list of each and then prioritize each list. Obviously you'll want to work on the "must do" list first as these are things you NEED to do to leave for the summer. Set a date that each task needs to be done by and stick with it. If it's a date set by the school {returning library equipment, textbook counts, supply requests, etc} then you'll need to factor those dates in too. Afterwards, if you have time, go back and tackle the list of projects you would LIKE to do. Those might be changing bulletin boards, sharpening new pencils, etc. Want to instantly make yourself feel better? On your list, write down something you've already done and then immediately cross it off. It feels SO good to cross stuff off! 

Manage Your Time. 
Once you have prioritized, decide on one task to tackle and complete it. Don't stop until it's done. {Be realistic though, don't set out to do a huge project if you only have 10 or 15 minutes.} Work in one area of your room at a time, rather than jumping around to different areas. Also, I find it easier to dedicate one or two days a week to come in extra early or stay late, rather than doing a little "here and there". I work better when I have longer time spans, versus several 15 minute windows.

Start Early. 
If you know that you are finished using a resource or an item in your classroom, organize it and pack it away. Don't wait until the very last week of school. This does not mean that you should start taking down bulletin boards or putting away classroom manipulatives several weeks before school is out. You don't want to send a message to your students that school is over. I'm talking about the small things that you can do behind the scenes, without your kiddos noticing, like organizing inside drawers and cabinets.

Get the Kids Involved.
By May or June my math manipulatives are so unorganized, the magnetic letters are a mess, puzzles are mixed up, and the classroom library is really just a pile of books in one area. These are not projects that you need to sit and do yourself. Save them for last week and let the kids do it! Kids can sort puzzle pieces, math manipulatives, magnetic letters, broken crayons, and dried out markers. It keeps them busy. And it makes them feel helpful.

Don't Cram. CLEAN. 
At the end of the school year we just want to get out the door. It's easy just to shove papers, supplies, etc into hiding places and deal with it later. It's really, really tempting. I, too have crammed a cabinet or two in my day. But when I return in August I ALWAYS regret it. Always. There is no magic fairy that comes in over the summer to tidy it up. It's still there when I get back. So do your future self a favor and take the time to clean, organize, and file away. If your school allows, clean and organize your shelves then cover them with bulletin board paper. You can always re-use the paper for students to color on during the first week of school or to cover the tables during Open House. 

From one teacher to another, helpful tips to get you ready for summer! The end of the school year can be stressful. There is so much to do and so little time. But with a little planning you can easily get your classroom ready for summer with little to NO stress.

Purge Baby Purge.
Most teachers are hoarders by nature. I don't know about you, but Pinterest has made me afraid to throw anything out. You just never know when you'll need a 30 toilet paper rolls or a chip canister to make that really cool project you saw in your pin feed. But it's not practical, you can't save everything!!! You need to let go. If something has served you well, or you haven't used it in years, or you know you won't need it next year - get rid of it. Ask your colleagues if they would like it {one man's trash is another's treasure, right?!}, start a "free" table, recycle if possible, or throw it away.

Take Pictures. 
Seriously. Take pictures of your classroom from multiple angles. In August, I can never remember what my classroom looked like in May. Pictures serve as great reminders! {I do this in my house at Christmas too. I can never remember where I had the decorations from year to year!} Take a few notes of things you liked and worked well. Also take notes of things that didn't work so great. If you've got a few ideas of how it could work differently, jot those down while their fresh in your head.

Pack a Back-to-School Survival Box.
Have you ever packed to move, got to your new house, and you can't find your coffee pot? You live on coffee and you can't find your coffee pot?! It's happened to me. When packing you always pack important things that you'll need right away in an easily accessible box, right? The classroom is no different. Pack the important things that you will need first, so when you get back to school in August you won't be hunting for scissors or a stapler. You might want to include post-it notes, Sharpies, pens, tape dispenser, adult scissors, a stapler, etc. in your box.

Pack a Take-Home Box:
Clear bins make the best take-home boxes. They are sturdy and you can easily see what is inside. Also, the items are contained so they aren't taking over your dining room table or your entire house. In your take-home box you may want to include any personal items that you don't want to leave at school. You may also want to include the first week of activities and read alouds. This way you can work on a little bit of planning towards the end of summer. You may also want to pack up community classroom supplies like bins, scissors, whisper phones, etc to take home and wash or disinfect...{This is a great job for the dishwasher!}

Be a Label Lady.
We've all told ourselves: "I don't need to write this down, I'll remember it." Hahaha!!! Lies we tells ourselves. Face it, you're going to forget what's in the boxes you are packing. When August gets here you're going to have memories of vacations, sleeping in, spending time with your own kids - not what you packed in June..and that is OKAY! But do yourself a favor and just stick a label on it now! Label everything so you know what everything is and where it goes. 

From one teacher to another, helpful tips to get you ready for summer! The end of the school year can be stressful. There is so much to do and so little time. But with a little planning you can easily get your classroom ready for summer with little to NO stress.

Make Lists. 
As you are cleaning out and purging make a list of the things you need to reorder, replace, or replenish over the summer. I also, because I am forgetful, make a list of things that I do not need or have plenty of. With technology and smart phones, you can make these lists on your phone and that way you'll always have them when you're out shopping over the summer. This will allow you to take advantage and stock up during the back to school sales. Having a list of what you have plenty of will help you avoid buying things you have a already have a healthy supply of.

Plan Ahead. 
The copier line is always so, so, so long right before school starts. It's no fun standing in the copier line with a million things to do thinking "I really should be in my room working". If you know there are some lessons or activities that you always do the first week, make copies NOW so they will be ready to go when you get back. No more waiting in line! Also, now is a great time to print back to school centers and activities that you need to cut and prep over the summer.

Remember this: You've worked hard all year long. You've taught, loved, and nurtured your students as if they were your own children. You've met standards, wrote lesson plans, held meetings, planned field trips and special events, and prepared an umpteen amount of report cards. And you've done it all with beauty, grace, and a {mostly} positive attitude! So give yourself a break. Relax and do not get overwhelmed. Plan ahead, get it done, and then leave it behind as you drive away to enjoy your summer. 

From one teacher to another, helpful tips to get you ready for summer! The end of the school year can be stressful. There is so much to do and so little time. But with a little planning you can easily get your classroom ready for summer with little to NO stress.

I hope these tips for packing up your classroom will help you have a smooth transition! Enjoy your summer!!! You've earned it! :)


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