Get ready, get set, START PACKING! Can you believe that we are in the final stretch of the school year? For some, it has been a tough year, but even those who have enjoyed a relatively uneventful year will agree that those final few weeks of school can make or break you.
In fact, there is nothing quite like the moment when you realize that you can count the number of days left in the school year on one hand. It is a moment of excitement, a moment of joy, and, then, a moment of sheer panic when you realize you have to have your room packed up in less than 24 hours after the last student leaves. This year, ease the panic and start planning now. Not only will it make those last few days a breeze, but it will be a great way to get your students involved in cleaning up the room.
Packing Up the Classroom
1. Purge, Purge, Purge
That’s right – purge. Purge papers, files, folders, projects, and props that have served you well during the year, but that will not be needed next year. Recycle what you can, donate materials to other teachers who may need (and want!) them, and throw away what you do not need. Start early, purge daily, and by that final day of school your classroom will be almost ready for summer.
2. Containers That Work
Oh, those cute little bins look adorable, but let’s face it, they do not hold nearly enough, they are hard to store over the summer, and your supplies end up a mess by August 1st. Forgo the cheap and incorrect size bins and invest in containers that actually are made for the things you need to store. Need a way to store your sentence strips so the ends do not wrinkle or they are not a curved mess when you take them out? Get a sentence strip box! Looking for a way to store your posters so you don’t have to shove them in a black trash bag and hope for the best? Get a large folder that is designed specifically for posters! The advantage is that you will not have to replace your well-made containers or your teaching materials every other year, because they have been stored incorrectly. The right containers make storing your supplies easier every time.
3. Label Like Mad
You may think you will, but you won’t. Face it, the chances of you remembering what is in each box by the time you head back to school are slim to none if you do not label what is inside. Write down every single thing that goes in each container and you will find that it is not only easier to set up your classroom in the fall, it will be easier to keep it organized throughout the year and pack it up next spring. Choose sturdy labels that will not fall off in storage.
4. Have a Method to Your Madness
The temptation to just throw things in the boxes, stack them in the garage, and be done with them until you head back to school is so strong. The problem with it is that you will be in a near panic state when you start trying to decorate your room in the fall. Instead, pack your room up in a way that works for you. You might want to organize bins by where in the classroom those supplies will go. For example, you might have “Small Group Supplies”, “Classroom Library Accessories”, and “Reflection Center” bins. Each labeled bin will contain just those things that belong in that section of the classroom. Sound like a lot of bins? Maybe, but it is better to break down the supplies into manageable chunks than to cram a classroom’s worth of supplies into a few large, disorganized containers. The more organized you are when packing, the less work it will be in the fall.
5. Kids Can Clean
As excited as you are about the last day of school, your students are about ten times more excited. They can hardly stay in their seats and concentrate. Focus that energy and turn it into something productive. Give students organizing, packing, and cleaning tasks around the room. Have them weed out useless pieces of crayons, empty glue sticks, and dried-out markers. Assign them to the classroom library where they check to make sure all of the books are in the correct bins. (Check out this article for more ideas on packing up the classroom library.) Let them wipe off the desks and chairs with sanitizing wipes. The classroom was theirs for an entire year too and it teaches them a valuable lesson about taking care of their space until the very end. Their future resident hall directors will thank you when they get to college!
You have worked so hard this year to make learning fun, meet standards, complete all of the paperwork, and maintain your enthusiasm. Do not get overwhelmed with thoughts of cleaning up your classroom. When you have a plan, anything can be accomplished. Have a great summer!