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Quick tips for the end of the year

Oh, I remember how I knew nothing about ending the school year. At the end of my first year, I thought I just pulled the door behind me and I would return the next school year to start off on day 1. Ha Ha Ha Ha! Nope, it doesn't work that way!

Let me explain with a few mistakes that I made.

1. Never leave all of your small stuff out. I left all of my knick-knacks and school supplies out on my shelves and in my organizers I had arranged to make my classroom super functioning! When I returned at the end of the summer, I realized that the custodians had moved EVERYTHING out into the halls to wax the floors. Well, the summer school students had taken full advantage of my supplies. I guess it's good they were well used!

2. Pack up your desk. I know this sounds silly, but clean out your desk and put everything away in a box. I didn't do this my first year, and when the custodians moved my desk out into the hallway to wax my floors, they turned it on the side. It dumped out all of my little containers and paperclips jammed into the drawer slides! It took me forever to clean it out and put everything back into its place.

3. Mark your items. One thing you will find is that most teachers are scavengers. It's almost funny that when someone retires or is let go, their "stuff" (Desks, chairs, podiums, shelves, cabinets, etc.) becomes free for all. It is attacked on closing day like a yard sale at first opening. Now, if your materials happen to be in the hall for cleaning, other teachers may assume it is for the taking, as well. Be careful with this. It is even more awkward to do a walk-thru in the next school year to see your globe rotating on another teacher's desk. Hmmmm...

4. Clean out. I thought it was smart to keep everything from year to year, but now I know better. Clean out and make room. This is true of markers (they dry out), student work samples (pull the best of the best and clean out the rest), and even resource materials. One thing to consider in our technology age - if it can be done digitally, why take up space. Now, I fight this one some, because I still think it is important for students to have things to touch and manipulate to learn. Still, clean and toss what you do not need so it is easier on you to unpack and organize at the beginning of the next year.

5. Update. You want your students to learn, and many of them learn by looking. Update the things in your classroom that decorate your walls or ceilings. Take down the old and bring in new, or use student work to suggest what your new students will be able to do in the coming year.

6. Plan to be back. I never pack things up to the point that I will not be able to access them over the summer. I am a teacher all year, and I get some of my best planning and development done in the summer months (after vacation, of course!). Keep things where you will be able to get to them for that moment of inspiration!

Now, I know that these things may seem simplistic to the seasoned teachers, but I know that I learn something new every year when it comes to packing down for the summer!

LAST TIP: Write yourself a note on the board. (You may also need to write your custodians a note to not erase it!) Remind yourself what you learned in this year that you never want to forget. List the things you want to change. Write yourself the encouragement that you may need to hear as you take on your new darlings in the fall. And finally, write down a new goal for yourself. In the end, it is what we reach for that keeps us moving forward!

Happy end of the school year to all!