Do you know why I love coming back to my classroom? I leave myself a present! When I close up my room for the summer, I pack up one box that's marked “Open Me First." This box contains all the items I will need right away (stapler, scissors, phone list, etc.) I also pack notes from students, favorite student work, cards from coworkers, and any other items that instantly make me feel at home. I also leave reminders in the box: little ideas I had at the end of the school year for the fall. A treat or two is fun to pack too.

I gave my room a makeover last year by painting all of my tired, old, brown bulletin boards with latex flat wall paint. It holds up very well, and gives the room a decorated touch even when it’s not. The choices of colors are endless; I used calming blues and greens.

I prepare a binder at the end of the school year with all of the handouts I will use the first week of school — I pull out the binder and voila! I get to put my time to good use instead of standing in line at the copier!

I get inexpensive composition notebooks that I ask our Industrial Arts class to saw in half. These are our journals, one half for each semester. As soon as I have my class list I write a personal note to each student on the first page of his or her new journal. Their first assignment is to write back.

I decorate my class with all of the best work saved from the years before. I love to hear my new students ask, “Do we get to do that, too?”