The end of the school year is a lot of fun, however closing out your classroom can seem a daunting task. You're still teaching, of course, but now you have items on that endless to-do list of things that have to get done before the school year ends.
While there is much to do, you don't have to let it get stressful. Here are 15 tips that will help you close out your year with ease!
Back to School Prep Tips
It may seem backward to start with back to school tips when talking about the end of the school year, but before you move, clean or revamp anything in your classroom you will want to take stock of what you have now. Your guiding question is what do I want to keep or remember for next year?
1. Save your Charts
Are there any anchor charts that you want to keep for next year? I have found that an easy way to keep them from ripping or folding is to keep them in a giant portfolio. It doesn't have to be fancy. The easiest way to make one is to staple two giant pieces of tagboard together. Now you can save everything inside!
What about the amazing anchor charts you created but don't want to keep? Save the idea! Take pictures of anchor charts before throwing them out. (Psst… instead of throwing them out, give them to your students to take home.) Then create a file on your computer or a drive and archive all of your hard work!
3. Take Pictures
I would also suggest that you take pictures of your classroom. Summer brain is a real issue and you might not remember the next school year exactly how your classroom looked this year. This way you won't waste time trying to think about how you had your Reading Workshop wall set up or your math stations. Take a picture now and forget about it… until August.
4. Get a Jump Start on Next Year
Get ready for next year, by making copies of what you know you want for the beginning next year! Ask a parent volunteer to come in and make copies for you. Store these in an area where you will see them right away come August. Some things that I like to get copied ahead of time are:
- First Day of School color sheet
- Spelling sheets
- Reading logs
- Homework logs
- Monthly calendars
5. Bins and Labels
If you don't have a system for getting your cupboards organized, the end of the school year is the perfect time to start one! I like to buy Sterilite shoe bins that are clear and stackable. These containers make it easy to organize your pens, pencils, erasers, post-its, highlighters, Expo markers etc. Have students help with sorting, add a label to each box and viola, your closet looks neat and organized.
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6. Important Papers Bin
If you are cleaning and purging, create an important papers bin. It may seem self-explanatory, but use this bin important papers you don't want to get lost. If your room is a little cluttered from all of the cleaning, you can easily misplace these important papers and you'll be frantic looking for them later. Report cards, parent letters, end of year notices, should all be kept in this bin.
7. Purposeful Storing
As you begin to store things away in the cupboards or closets, create a list of what is on that shelf and tape it towards the front of the shelf. That way, when you come back in August, you'll know exactly what was stored towards the back of them and you won't have to take everything out just to figure out what's back there.
Another good idea is to store what you will need first towards the front of the cupboard. For example in my math manipulatives cupboard, I will store the base ten blocks and rekenreks towards the front of the shelf because we use those right away at the start of the school year!
8. Purge a shelf a day!
If you look at your whole closet or the shelves around the room, it might feel overwhelming to have to clean. If you take one shelf a day, then it's not too bad! As you go through your materials here are some questions to consider.
- Did I use it this year?
- Do I need this?
- Is this taking up space?
Once you've decided you don't want it, you can toss it or send it home with the students. (One man's trash is another
man's kid's treasure!)
9. Stock up on wipes!
Wipes, wipes, wipes! They come in handy for so many things! Cleaning tops of students' desks, cleaning the counters, wiping out book bins, and getting pencil marks off of pencil boxes. You can even use them to wipe the spins and covers of the students' anthology books!
10. Use Cheap Tablecloths
If you aren't moving classrooms and leaving your classroom as is…
… yay and happy dance for you!
Cheap plastic tablecloths can be used to cover your bookcases, bulletin boards and anything else that you wouldn't want getting dusty!
11. Family can Help
Nieces or nephews that are old enough and are already done with school can help you. Take them to school with you! First, your students will get a kick out of meeting your family. Second, you can really boss them around. Haha!
12. Student Volunteers
At the end of the school year, have your past students come help! This has always been a big help. I like to ask current fifth and sixth grade students that used to be in my classroom to come help pack up or declutter! Other simple tasks they could do for you:
- test the pens and markers
- organize the classroom library
- add labels to books
- repair books in the hospital bin
- clean book bins
- get bins, folder, tags, etc for next year
13. Make Cleaning Fun
Make desk cleaning fun with a little competition! Split the class into two teams. Give each group a Clorox wipes container. Explain that the team with the most points wins! Here's how they earn points. One person from each team will go head to head. You will time them for 30-40 seconds. The student with the cleanest desk after time is called, earns a point for his/her team. Kids have fun cleaning and you get clean desks. Win-win!
14. Keep Routines in Place
Although it's close to the end of the year, try as much as possible to keep your routines and schedule in place. If you always start the day with a calendar routine, keep that in place. Or if you always end the day with a class meeting, keep that in place!
I know that some days this just won't be possible if you have assemblies, field trips, field days, open house or anything else that is specific to the end of the year. But on the days where nothing special is happening, stick to the routine. Students like routines. Since they are used to your routines and procedures, then you will have fewer behavior challenges.
15. Weave in Fun
Keeping tip #14 in mind… I do think you should keep routines in place but I also think you can weave in some extra fun!
For example, during reading time instead of reading from the curriculum pick a fun summer topic… like sharks… to read about! In math, keep them reviewing skills using task cards! It gets them moving around the room but they are definitely still working hard!
Another way to weave in fun is to have a themed day or week! Keep your routines in place but everything you learn and study for the day is themed! I have a FREE Best End of the Year Ever series with three themes: beach, friendship and fantasy that you can try out!
This is the perfect way to keep your students engaged, working collaboratively and learning!
I hope these tips help you with closing out your classroom. I hope you enjoy these last few special days/weeks with your students and can continue to keep them engaged and learning!
Pin to your end-of-school year ideas! Save it now and come back to it later!
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