Packing Up Your Classroom
Before the marathon of the school year ends, you have one last challenge: pack up your classroom for the summer. Packing doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. With a little planning and a lot of clear tubs, packing your room will be a piece of cake.
Keeping your classroom decorated until the last day will help keep your students focused on learning. However, there are some tasks you can tackle without disrupting your classroom environment. You can organize your email, computer files, and filing cabinets over several weeks to get started preparing for the summer.
Clean up your email inbox by deleting any junk or outdated mail. Delete any old files that you don't need anymore. Create folders to keep your digital files organized so you can get what you need next year.
Take pictures of your bulletin boards, storage, and furniture. The pictures will help you put things back together in the fall. If custodians move the furniture in your classroom over the summer, tape your pictures and/or a map to the board with a friendly note asking them to put the furniture back in place. Having the furniture in place when you get back to school will save you a ton of time.
Get rid of as much as you can before you leave for the summer. Teachers tend to hold on to things "just in case." All of this stuff is cluttering up your classroom and adding stress to your life. Do the Classroom Kondo, if you don't need it, use it, or love it, toss it. You will feel much lighter without all the weight of your unused clutter.
Use Clear Tubs
Speaking of Marie Kondo, she recommends storing items so you can see them. You will be more likely to stay organized if you know where all your stuff is. Clear tubs are great for this. A large clear tub is about $10 and a worthwhile investment for your sanity.
It is also helpful to pack like things together. Pack all of your math manipulatives in one tub and all your student supplies in another tub. You can also pack things by area in your room. Packing areas will make unpacking in the fall much faster.
Pack Whole Items/Baskets
You are going to have to unpack everything you are packing up, so make the unpacking process easier by packing whole items as much as possible. If you have a basket of pencils, pack the basket full of pencils instead of separating them. This type of packing may take up more space (and tubs), but it will save you tons of time both now and in the fall.
Posters, Decorations, and Borders
Packing your wall supplies can be difficult, and corners are easily bent over the summer. Use packing tubes to store posters to keep them looking great all summer. You can label different packing tubes and keep your posters separated and safe all year. If you change posters by unit, label the tubes with your unit names. If you change posters monthly, label the tubes by month.
You may also want to invest in a border storage system. These are brilliant because the organizer keeps your borders separated and flat. I could never keep my borders nice in my closet, and it drove me crazy!
Have one clear plastic tub specifically for your desk items. I am a big fan of using small boxes inside my desk drawers to keep everything organized. These small boxes can go directly into the tub. Setting up your desk in the fall will take almost no time with this system.
Back to School Box
Back to school is a special time in the classroom. You probably have books and supplies that you only use at the beginning of the year. Put all of these materials into a back to school box. You will have a head start on prepping in the fall.
Prep for Back to School
I read this tip so many times, and I had to include it here. Make copies for the beginning of the year before you leave for the summer. As we all know, the copier gets crowded before school starts, and you will have a million other things to do. Of course, if your district is like my old district, you never know if you will have to change classes at the last minute. Making copies before leaving for summer is tempting fate to me, but if you will confident you will teach the same grade level, go for it.
Label all of your clear plastic tubs with a description of what is in it, your name, and your classroom number. Not only will this help you see what you have when you return in the fall, but, if your tubs are moved out of your classroom, you will be more likely to get them back. Blue painters tape in the best option for labeling your tubs. It is cheap and won't leave a sticky residue like masking tape.
Get the Kids Involved
Students love helping their teachers. You can put early finishers to work by having them sharpen pencils for the next year. (Read my blog post on how to sharpen colored pencils without burning out your pencil sharpener.) You can also have them separate dry markers and unusable crayon pieces. Finally, have students go through your classroom library to reorganize any books that have been misshelved during the year.
Teachers have a lot going on at the end of the year. Packing up the classroom can seem like one job too many, but by packing your classroom with a plan, you will save yourself tons of time in the fall.