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June 15, 2017

20 Hacks to Help Wrap up Your School Year!

By Nancy Jang
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    1.     Begin to purge early! I like to start giving away and dumping teacher resource books and manipulatives about one to three months before the end of the year. I especially love giving away resource books, extra teacher mugs, or other items I have multiples of (like extra math manipulatives after a pilot for a new program). These make great end-of-year gifts for student teachers or colleagues who might be new to the grade level. I try to go through one bookshelf a day and keep only the ones I use every single year. If I haven’t used it in a year, I throw it in the giveaway basket. I also put a box of giveaways in the lounge for any subs, new teachers, student teachers, and others looking to pick up some goodies.

    2.     Begin to clean and organize your cabinets so that you gain valuable storage space. No matter what happens, resist the urge to just shove things in the cabinets. You will thank yourself in the fall when you eliminate hours of trying to figure out where the heck you put everything.

    3.     Clear out any old, well-loved books from your classroom library. The ones that the pages are falling out and the spine has been taped a bunch of times or that aren’t repairable are wonderful to gift to the kids that loved them. For my class, it’s all the Captain Underpants books that probably won’t survive another year. So, I put together a crate to give away to kids for summer reading and the kids go wild. Seriously. I have to keep them from fighting over these books. Leave the crate out in the morning where kids are dropped off with a big sign that says Summer Reading, Free Books!, and BAM, you’ll have an empty box in no time.

    4.     If you are changing grade levels, box up everything that doesn’t apply to your new grade level. Label clearly. Keep it for three to five years then pass on to a teacher in that grade level. Even better, give them to the teacher who is moving into the grade level!

    5.     Label all your electrical cords on BOTH ENDS with painter’s tape and store them with the piece of equipment in a plastic storage bag. I tape my bag of cords to the piece of equipment with painter’s tape. Label the chargers and remotes as well. Put everything, including the surge protectors, in the same box.

     

    6.     Think about eliminating items such as your teacher desk, rainbow rug, or horseshoe table. Do you need more furniture? Or can you make do with less? Can one piece of furniture serve multiple purposes? Is there an area that just didn’t work well for you or your class? I am getting rid of my filing cabinet. I haven’t opened that thing in about 10 years. I like to keep my themes in boxes and binders. Now, with so many ways to store things digitally, I can find materials on Google Drive and Pinterest mush faster than in a dusty resource book on a shelf or in a filing cabinet. If you are going to get rid of a piece of furniture or rearrange your room, make sure that you adjust for your plans. For example, I am planning on moving several big bookshelves to new areas, but they need to be emptied before I can do that. Lucky for me, I purged 80 percent of that shelf first.

    7.     Make a map and take pictures of the room and make multiple copies. Post one in the room and one to take home. Take pictures of the bulletin boards and where they go and how they should look. My Word Wall and Focus Wall stay in the same place year to year, but sometimes I can’t figure out where to put the specific pieces. So before I pack up that bulletin board, I take a picture of it and then pack it along with the items from that board.

    8.     Pack away all your things in zones. I like to use huge storage boxes for each area. This includes all the bulletin board materials and binders, office supplies, etc. that belong in the area. Label the box and stack it up. I bought these at Costco for about $6 a piece, and they are heavy duty!

     

    9.     Make a Back-to-School Box. Put ALL your photocopies for the first week of school, name tags, desk name tags, sharpened pencils, pencil boxes, read-aloud books, and folders in a container. I usually take this box home so that I can work on a few things easily AND that in an emergency (like a last-minute grade level change), I can start teaching right away with just the materials in the box.

    10.  Have the kids help! The last week of school, I write jobs on the whiteboard and kids take turns completing the to-do list. They organize the random crayons, clean the library bins, and wipe down desks.

    11.  If you have permission, keep your bulletin boards up with their borders and just cover it with a cheap plastic tablecloth. If you have to take it down, keep all the pieces together. Wrap all the pieces of the bulletin boards together with butcher paper, then label. If you can, clip all the headers and decorative pieces together and wrap them into a package. For example, my Word Wall, Language Arts Focus Wall, and Math Wall all have small pieces that go together. I put small pieces in baggies, and the larger pieces get wrapped with them in large butcher paper packages. In the fall, when I put the board back up, I’m not hunting for the smaller pieces. Bulkier bulletin board items such as my clipboard wall, go into a large heavy duty box with a lid.

    12.  Ask a parent volunteer to make bulletin board items that are crafty. Or start making them yourself! Think about how you can save yourself time putting up student work in the fall. I really liked having pieces on my bulletin boards that made changing student work quick and easy. Clipboards, rulers with bulldog clips glued on, and clothespins with tacks glued on them make changing work quick without worrying about if it’s lined up straight. Next year, I am also adding a clothesline with clips nailed to the wall for holding up work.

     

    13.  Cover bookshelves with plastic tablecloths, twin-sized sheets, cheap fabric remnants, or wrap them in butcher paper. This keeps books and book bins from getting dusty during summer cleaning. And if you are hosting another teacher with summer school classes in your room like I am, it helps to keep little hands out of your stuff.

    14.  Stay a little later or get to school a little earlier every day and try to dedicate 30 minutes of focused intense work towards purging, packing, or cleaning. This time adds up and you will be able to start enjoying every minute of your vacation right away!

    15.  Complete your year-end checkout list from your office manager. This may include chasing down any lost library books, inventorying all your textbooks and TEs, filing your report cards in the students’ cumulative records, and returning any personal items that belong to the students.

    16.  Buy thank you gifts for the office, grade level team, and parent volunteers, and goodbye gifts for students EARLY. Wrap, package, and have them ready to go out the door the last week of school.

    17.  Don’t spend hours putting together bound books of the kids’ work. Don’t worry about using the binding machine or tying cute ribbons in hole punched books. Just put all the work in a nice box or large envelope. I make LARGE envelopes with a sheet of poster board that is folded in half and then stapled. Other teachers send home a shirt-sized gift box (with a decorated top and bottom) from the dollar store (two for a dollar). Another teacher I know uses brown paper grocery bags with decorative deck tape on the bottom to make large envelopes with handles! All these options keep student work from getting crumpled in backpacks, but don’t require a ton of teacher time to put together.

    18.  Utilize your volunteers! Recruit parent volunteers; high school kids looking for service hours; or maybe your own kids, parents, and significant other, to help clean, organize, and purge!

    19.  Clear out the kids’ desks early during the last week of school. I send home all the students personal items in a brown grocery bag on Monday of the last week of school. The kids donate scissors, pencils, erasers, and crayons to the “Borrowing Bins” and we use shared community supplies for the last few days.

    20.  Collect all textbooks and use photocopied booklets to work from the last week of school. Throw in a few fun items like a word search, a coloring page, an autograph page, etc. in addition to some summer learning items. Whatever students don’t finish the last week, can be taken home.

    I hope that these tips help you walk out with your kids on the last day and allow you to start your well-deserved summer vacation as soon as possible! Check out this quick video from another Top Teaching blogger, Alycia Zimmerman, with even more teacher tips for closing out your school year!

     

    Happy Teaching!

    Nancy

    1.     Begin to purge early! I like to start giving away and dumping teacher resource books and manipulatives about one to three months before the end of the year. I especially love giving away resource books, extra teacher mugs, or other items I have multiples of (like extra math manipulatives after a pilot for a new program). These make great end-of-year gifts for student teachers or colleagues who might be new to the grade level. I try to go through one bookshelf a day and keep only the ones I use every single year. If I haven’t used it in a year, I throw it in the giveaway basket. I also put a box of giveaways in the lounge for any subs, new teachers, student teachers, and others looking to pick up some goodies.

    2.     Begin to clean and organize your cabinets so that you gain valuable storage space. No matter what happens, resist the urge to just shove things in the cabinets. You will thank yourself in the fall when you eliminate hours of trying to figure out where the heck you put everything.

    3.     Clear out any old, well-loved books from your classroom library. The ones that the pages are falling out and the spine has been taped a bunch of times or that aren’t repairable are wonderful to gift to the kids that loved them. For my class, it’s all the Captain Underpants books that probably won’t survive another year. So, I put together a crate to give away to kids for summer reading and the kids go wild. Seriously. I have to keep them from fighting over these books. Leave the crate out in the morning where kids are dropped off with a big sign that says Summer Reading, Free Books!, and BAM, you’ll have an empty box in no time.

    4.     If you are changing grade levels, box up everything that doesn’t apply to your new grade level. Label clearly. Keep it for three to five years then pass on to a teacher in that grade level. Even better, give them to the teacher who is moving into the grade level!

    5.     Label all your electrical cords on BOTH ENDS with painter’s tape and store them with the piece of equipment in a plastic storage bag. I tape my bag of cords to the piece of equipment with painter’s tape. Label the chargers and remotes as well. Put everything, including the surge protectors, in the same box.

     

    6.     Think about eliminating items such as your teacher desk, rainbow rug, or horseshoe table. Do you need more furniture? Or can you make do with less? Can one piece of furniture serve multiple purposes? Is there an area that just didn’t work well for you or your class? I am getting rid of my filing cabinet. I haven’t opened that thing in about 10 years. I like to keep my themes in boxes and binders. Now, with so many ways to store things digitally, I can find materials on Google Drive and Pinterest mush faster than in a dusty resource book on a shelf or in a filing cabinet. If you are going to get rid of a piece of furniture or rearrange your room, make sure that you adjust for your plans. For example, I am planning on moving several big bookshelves to new areas, but they need to be emptied before I can do that. Lucky for me, I purged 80 percent of that shelf first.

    7.     Make a map and take pictures of the room and make multiple copies. Post one in the room and one to take home. Take pictures of the bulletin boards and where they go and how they should look. My Word Wall and Focus Wall stay in the same place year to year, but sometimes I can’t figure out where to put the specific pieces. So before I pack up that bulletin board, I take a picture of it and then pack it along with the items from that board.

    8.     Pack away all your things in zones. I like to use huge storage boxes for each area. This includes all the bulletin board materials and binders, office supplies, etc. that belong in the area. Label the box and stack it up. I bought these at Costco for about $6 a piece, and they are heavy duty!

     

    9.     Make a Back-to-School Box. Put ALL your photocopies for the first week of school, name tags, desk name tags, sharpened pencils, pencil boxes, read-aloud books, and folders in a container. I usually take this box home so that I can work on a few things easily AND that in an emergency (like a last-minute grade level change), I can start teaching right away with just the materials in the box.

    10.  Have the kids help! The last week of school, I write jobs on the whiteboard and kids take turns completing the to-do list. They organize the random crayons, clean the library bins, and wipe down desks.

    11.  If you have permission, keep your bulletin boards up with their borders and just cover it with a cheap plastic tablecloth. If you have to take it down, keep all the pieces together. Wrap all the pieces of the bulletin boards together with butcher paper, then label. If you can, clip all the headers and decorative pieces together and wrap them into a package. For example, my Word Wall, Language Arts Focus Wall, and Math Wall all have small pieces that go together. I put small pieces in baggies, and the larger pieces get wrapped with them in large butcher paper packages. In the fall, when I put the board back up, I’m not hunting for the smaller pieces. Bulkier bulletin board items such as my clipboard wall, go into a large heavy duty box with a lid.

    12.  Ask a parent volunteer to make bulletin board items that are crafty. Or start making them yourself! Think about how you can save yourself time putting up student work in the fall. I really liked having pieces on my bulletin boards that made changing student work quick and easy. Clipboards, rulers with bulldog clips glued on, and clothespins with tacks glued on them make changing work quick without worrying about if it’s lined up straight. Next year, I am also adding a clothesline with clips nailed to the wall for holding up work.

     

    13.  Cover bookshelves with plastic tablecloths, twin-sized sheets, cheap fabric remnants, or wrap them in butcher paper. This keeps books and book bins from getting dusty during summer cleaning. And if you are hosting another teacher with summer school classes in your room like I am, it helps to keep little hands out of your stuff.

    14.  Stay a little later or get to school a little earlier every day and try to dedicate 30 minutes of focused intense work towards purging, packing, or cleaning. This time adds up and you will be able to start enjoying every minute of your vacation right away!

    15.  Complete your year-end checkout list from your office manager. This may include chasing down any lost library books, inventorying all your textbooks and TEs, filing your report cards in the students’ cumulative records, and returning any personal items that belong to the students.

    16.  Buy thank you gifts for the office, grade level team, and parent volunteers, and goodbye gifts for students EARLY. Wrap, package, and have them ready to go out the door the last week of school.

    17.  Don’t spend hours putting together bound books of the kids’ work. Don’t worry about using the binding machine or tying cute ribbons in hole punched books. Just put all the work in a nice box or large envelope. I make LARGE envelopes with a sheet of poster board that is folded in half and then stapled. Other teachers send home a shirt-sized gift box (with a decorated top and bottom) from the dollar store (two for a dollar). Another teacher I know uses brown paper grocery bags with decorative deck tape on the bottom to make large envelopes with handles! All these options keep student work from getting crumpled in backpacks, but don’t require a ton of teacher time to put together.

    18.  Utilize your volunteers! Recruit parent volunteers; high school kids looking for service hours; or maybe your own kids, parents, and significant other, to help clean, organize, and purge!

    19.  Clear out the kids’ desks early during the last week of school. I send home all the students personal items in a brown grocery bag on Monday of the last week of school. The kids donate scissors, pencils, erasers, and crayons to the “Borrowing Bins” and we use shared community supplies for the last few days.

    20.  Collect all textbooks and use photocopied booklets to work from the last week of school. Throw in a few fun items like a word search, a coloring page, an autograph page, etc. in addition to some summer learning items. Whatever students don’t finish the last week, can be taken home.

    I hope that these tips help you walk out with your kids on the last day and allow you to start your well-deserved summer vacation as soon as possible! Check out this quick video from another Top Teaching blogger, Alycia Zimmerman, with even more teacher tips for closing out your school year!

     

    Happy Teaching!

    Nancy

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