Ugh packing. Am I right? While I am all about cleaning and organizing there is something about the extra step of packing it up that really grates at my nerves. When it involves the classroom it seems to get even worse. Maybe it is because you are expected to pack your room, because of course you have to be out of the way for summer school, all while still keeping your students engaged in rigorous learning activities. Over the years I learned a few things about the end of the year pack up that I am hoping will help you too.
Throw It Away
You heard me. Throw it away. Just do it. If you are not absolutely positive that you are going to use it again just get rid of it. This doesn't necessarily mean everything should go in the trash can. It can go home with your students, go to a colleague that thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread, or in the recycling bin. What it can't do is live in a box all summer that takes up precious space only for you to get rid of it in the fall. So, just throw it away. I promise you won't regret it.
Pack with Intent and Label, Label, Label
While you are packing up I know it is all to tempting to just shove everything in a box/cabinet/drawer and think that you will deal with it in the fall when you are back in the classroom. At the end of the year I was always ready to be done, and that meant getting out as quickly as possible. Then every August I would curse my previous self for creating just a disaster zone that I then had to undo before actually setting up my classroom.
Instead, think about where you are packing things. What is the closest place that something can go to where you will want it next year? Is is possible to leave your classroom library books sorted into their book boxes and just place them in a cabinet? Moral of the story, don't make more work for yourself!
Post-It Note Labels. (affiliate link) They are the bomb. (I am stuck in the 90s today, deal with it.) They come in a variety of colors and sizes and the whole back is sticky, BUT they are sticky like a Post-It so when you peel them off there is no residue. I use these bad boys and write out every last thing in each box so that there are no surprises or mysteries when it comes time to unpack.
Have Your Students Do It
There are many, many tasks that I find painful. I am talking would rather give myself a root canal painful that have to take place at the end of the year. Most of them, i.e. paperwork, I have to do. There are many more tasks though that don't need my involvement at all, they just need to be done. The magical secret here is that you students will LOVE these tasks, and will feel special that you thought to include them.
A short list of ways your students can help to save your sanity:
Filing resources-I hate filing, but my students love to take the fold-up examples of incomplete metamorphosis and file that bad boy in the life cycles folder, so why not let them?
Sort supplies-This might be going through the check whether markers are working, sorting markers from crayons, or even pre-sharpening the pencils that are leftover (read: you bought last week because you weren't sure you would make it to the end of the year) for next year.
Sort colored paper-I love having paper sorted into colors, but I hate doing it.
Evaluate math games-I have a student or two go through all of our math games and make sure all the pieces are there. If it is missing a piece/card I have them make note and set it aside. Most of the time they find the missing piece in another game and it sorts itself out, but if they don't I can usually recreate just that piece without having to recreate the whole game.
Check the Classroom Library-Books at the end of the year are lucky to still be in the classroom. I have a student go through the library and resort the books. They also pull aside any books that may need to be repaired.
Wipe Down All the Things-I know that we can't have our students running around with Clorox wipes (as much as this seems like a dream to me) but a spray bottle of water (or if you dare a little vinegar and lemon juice) and a rag can go a LONG way to cleaning up your room. If you don't want to turn a student loose with a spray bottle, wet wipes will do a world a good.
Remove Staples From Bulletin Boards/Walls-My students thought of this as a reward, which is amazing, because I. Hated. It. Not going to lie, I would pretend to be really excited about it, and then they would jump all over it. It's all about how you frame it people.
What have I missed? I know there has to be more!
Make Your Copies Now
Why wait until the beginning of the school year to stand in line. If you know you are going to use it, copy it now! Think about morning work, new math stations, or parent contact information for the first week. You can even go above and beyond by taking some time at the laminator to really get the ball rolling.
Enjoy Your Students
I mean really this is the most important one by a landslide. I know you are excited about summer. I know you are, and you should be, BUT don't wish away your time with the little people you have working so hard for/with this year. Take this time to soak them in, every annoying moment, because you know you will miss them!