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April 7, 2017

5 End-of-Year Tips

By Tiffani Mugurussa
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    It might only be the beginning of April, but we are in the home stretch of the school year. With the year coming to an end, packing up the classroom for summer cleaning is just around the corner. I have already started some reorganizing and planning to prepare for next year. I don’t like to save things for the last minute. With these five tips, you can enjoy your time with your students during the last few weeks, instead of feeling panicked and frenzied.

    Tip 1: Organize Cupboards and Drawers

    By the end of the school year my supply cupboards and drawers can become disorganized If I don’t always put things back where they belong. To get back on track, I will pick one day to stay after school and go through the drawers and cupboards to tidy things up.

    I use small containers to keep everything from shifting around in my large drawers and this helps tremendously. As I am organizing I also:

    ·      Trash or donate unused or unwanted items

    ·      Return to the supply closet items that I haven’t used in several years

    ·      Make a list of items I need from the supply closet or need to purchase during the summer month sales

    Tip 2: LABEL, LABEL, LABEL

    Whether you are packing up your entire classroom or just a few boxes, use labels! Here is a tip for turning a chore into an occasion to explore your creativity: Word Workshop! This is a free tool from Scholastic for creating labels, word walls, and much more. You can choose your own font, border, and style. The tool is compatible with Avery labels, so just print out your finished product.

    If you aren’t permitted to write on the boxes, perhaps you can attach a color-coded dot to tell you that blue dots are books and red dots are supplies. I also suggest that you label all of your furniture. Our school empties all of the classrooms at one time. Usually we get all of our tables and chairs back, but occasionally, we are on the hunt for a few missing items. It is much easier to prove the item is yours if it has your name on it.

    Tip 3: Cleaning and Organizing

    It always amazes me just how dirty and unorganized the classroom can get over the course of the school year. However, with one afternoon and twenty busy little helpers, it can become sparkling and organized. Kids are always happy to help with the cleaning and a few boxes of baby wipes will do the trick.

    I assign each student a task. Some students clean shelves or wipe off manipulatives. Others have the job of wiping out the doll house or play kitchen area. Other students are in charge of the library. Their task will be to organize each book bucket, making sure each bucket contains only the books that belong to it. If they find a book in the wrong bucket, they put it where it belongs. Everyone has a job and everything gets cleaned and organized.

    Tip 4: Use your Smartphone

    If you are in a school that makes you strip your walls of all of its contents at the end of the school year, then taking photos of your walls is something you should do. Use your phone and start snapping photos of everything you want to replicate next year. Photos make it easy to refer to when you return to school and need to recreate that display.

    If you are lucky enough to be able to leave your wall displays up as I am, then take advantage of this time to prep them for next year. Change out the background if you know you won’t be using it. Add some new borders and titles, and your wall décor will be ready when you return.

    Don’t just use that smartphone for your walls, also take pictures of where you had tables, bookcases, and other items. This make it easy to quickly move things back. You would be surprised at how quickly you forget where things were. If you think you might want to rearrange your classroom when you return, take measurements of your classroom and furniture. You can use Scholastic’s Classroom Setup Tool to experiment with different classroom configurations virtually before actually moving any real furniture.

    Tip 5: Make a Back-to-School Box

    The back-to-school box is something I have done every year for as long as I can remember. It is really two boxes. The first box contains the teaching manuals and guides I will be using at the beginning of the school year. I take these home with me during the summer. I like to have these with me for when my teaching partner and I plan during the summer break.

    The second box contains everything I will be using the first week of school. I like to plan ahead. This means I have made copies of what I will be teaching. I have pulled everything that I would normally be looking for those first days back and put them into this box. This includes books, name tags, labels, crayons, sharpened pencils, and supplies for glue tubs. This will save me a lot of time when I return. While my colleagues are all standing in line at the copy machine in August, I will be in my classroom, adding the final touches to my classroom.

    I hope you have found a few helpful tips to help you start thinking about organizing and planning for the end of the school year. If you have tips, please share them in the comments below.

    It might only be the beginning of April, but we are in the home stretch of the school year. With the year coming to an end, packing up the classroom for summer cleaning is just around the corner. I have already started some reorganizing and planning to prepare for next year. I don’t like to save things for the last minute. With these five tips, you can enjoy your time with your students during the last few weeks, instead of feeling panicked and frenzied.

    Tip 1: Organize Cupboards and Drawers

    By the end of the school year my supply cupboards and drawers can become disorganized If I don’t always put things back where they belong. To get back on track, I will pick one day to stay after school and go through the drawers and cupboards to tidy things up.

    I use small containers to keep everything from shifting around in my large drawers and this helps tremendously. As I am organizing I also:

    ·      Trash or donate unused or unwanted items

    ·      Return to the supply closet items that I haven’t used in several years

    ·      Make a list of items I need from the supply closet or need to purchase during the summer month sales

    Tip 2: LABEL, LABEL, LABEL

    Whether you are packing up your entire classroom or just a few boxes, use labels! Here is a tip for turning a chore into an occasion to explore your creativity: Word Workshop! This is a free tool from Scholastic for creating labels, word walls, and much more. You can choose your own font, border, and style. The tool is compatible with Avery labels, so just print out your finished product.

    If you aren’t permitted to write on the boxes, perhaps you can attach a color-coded dot to tell you that blue dots are books and red dots are supplies. I also suggest that you label all of your furniture. Our school empties all of the classrooms at one time. Usually we get all of our tables and chairs back, but occasionally, we are on the hunt for a few missing items. It is much easier to prove the item is yours if it has your name on it.

    Tip 3: Cleaning and Organizing

    It always amazes me just how dirty and unorganized the classroom can get over the course of the school year. However, with one afternoon and twenty busy little helpers, it can become sparkling and organized. Kids are always happy to help with the cleaning and a few boxes of baby wipes will do the trick.

    I assign each student a task. Some students clean shelves or wipe off manipulatives. Others have the job of wiping out the doll house or play kitchen area. Other students are in charge of the library. Their task will be to organize each book bucket, making sure each bucket contains only the books that belong to it. If they find a book in the wrong bucket, they put it where it belongs. Everyone has a job and everything gets cleaned and organized.

    Tip 4: Use your Smartphone

    If you are in a school that makes you strip your walls of all of its contents at the end of the school year, then taking photos of your walls is something you should do. Use your phone and start snapping photos of everything you want to replicate next year. Photos make it easy to refer to when you return to school and need to recreate that display.

    If you are lucky enough to be able to leave your wall displays up as I am, then take advantage of this time to prep them for next year. Change out the background if you know you won’t be using it. Add some new borders and titles, and your wall décor will be ready when you return.

    Don’t just use that smartphone for your walls, also take pictures of where you had tables, bookcases, and other items. This make it easy to quickly move things back. You would be surprised at how quickly you forget where things were. If you think you might want to rearrange your classroom when you return, take measurements of your classroom and furniture. You can use Scholastic’s Classroom Setup Tool to experiment with different classroom configurations virtually before actually moving any real furniture.

    Tip 5: Make a Back-to-School Box

    The back-to-school box is something I have done every year for as long as I can remember. It is really two boxes. The first box contains the teaching manuals and guides I will be using at the beginning of the school year. I take these home with me during the summer. I like to have these with me for when my teaching partner and I plan during the summer break.

    The second box contains everything I will be using the first week of school. I like to plan ahead. This means I have made copies of what I will be teaching. I have pulled everything that I would normally be looking for those first days back and put them into this box. This includes books, name tags, labels, crayons, sharpened pencils, and supplies for glue tubs. This will save me a lot of time when I return. While my colleagues are all standing in line at the copy machine in August, I will be in my classroom, adding the final touches to my classroom.

    I hope you have found a few helpful tips to help you start thinking about organizing and planning for the end of the school year. If you have tips, please share them in the comments below.

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