Looking forward to the last day of school? Do I hear a “heck yeah!” Teachers and students alike can’t wait for summer break! Before you run out, though, here are some important things to do before leaving the classroom for the summer.
The last thing we want at the end of the year is more work. I know, you’re exhausted. However, a little extra work now can save you so much stress at the beginning of the year! Believe me, there are few worse things than coming into your classroom at the start of the new year to find a hot mess and not knowing where to start.
It doesn’t have to be that way! Here are my best tips for sailing into summer and cruising into fall.
Some things are obvious, like finding a home for your class pet and remembering to take home your chocolate stash so you don’t walk into a melted mess in the fall! Other things aren’t as easy to remember, so get out a pad and make yourself a to-do list. Feel free to comment with your own tip!
Before Packing Your Classroom
- Take Photos- Get out your camera and take pictures of your room (and students), and voila! No need to rely on memory for the next year!
- Take Inventory- take stock of supplies that are low so you have time to restock and grab them during great summer sales. Read here for a list of my must-have school supplies.
- Make a List– So you don’t leave anything important behind, make a list of anything you want or need to take home: lesson plan book, manuals, bins, toys and manipulatives in need of sanitizing, and any personal items that came to school with you.
- Laminate, laminate, laminate! If you have not already laminated your anchor charts, now is the time. In this anchor chart post, I share how I laminate the essential parts before completing so I can complete them with my students.
The way you pack now will affect how smooth your beginning of the year will go. Take a little time to pack wisely and you will thank yourself later!
- Books-Do you have books that stealthily climb out of their bin to see what other bins have to offer? Resist the temptation to leave the books mixed up. Your students will be happy to go through each bin for you and make sure they’re in the right place, especially if they are labeled. Secure books from each bin with a rubber band and label with a post-it. This will make them easy to set up next year.
- Centers-Pack sections of your room into separate boxes. Have a writing center? Pack everything that goes in it into one box. This will help you unpack and set up quicker later.
- Bulletin Boards-Pack all of your bulletin boards into one box, separating boards into plastic bags. This is one of the first things I like to set up because bulletin boards just make a classroom feel much more finished and helps me feel less overwhelmed. Having everything in one box makes this process easier. (Picture below from my Ocean Classroom Decor set).
- Your Desk-Desk supplies, your box is waiting! Gather everything that goes in and on your desk into one box and store on top of the other boxes for quick access.
Plan your First Week of School
Plan your first week before you leave for vacation. I don’t mean every single thing you do that week, of course, but you likely have activities and books you use at the start of each year.
Two resources you can prep early are monthly writing journals and a yearlong scrapbook.
Gather any books, materials, and lesson plans you’ll need and place them all in a box marked “The First Week of School.” You now have a worry-free summer ahead. Read here for some ideas for the first week of school and other Back-to-School posts.
Last Day Before Summer Vacation
- Thank you Cards- Have these ready for any student gifts. Make your own cards by using die-cut shapes or extra bulletin board pieces! I always had a small pile of these and just wrote a quick thank you note on them.
- Email-Forward your school email to your home computer. You’ll never miss an idea or a great deal on supplies.
- Last-minute items-Keep a bin handy to carry any gifts and last-minute items to avoid multiple trips to the car.
- Write down your passwords– If you’re anything like me, you’ll forget your passwords the day after school ends. Put them into a doc now, print, and place in your desk, so you can get into your computer later!
- Summer Bucket List-Last but not least, make a summer self-care plan! Make a list beginning with already-planned activities. Next, add things you’d like to do, places you want to visit, books you want to read, and even hobbies you want to learn. For ideas see my article, 10 Fun Teacher Summer Things to Do.
So what will all your students be doing while you pack and organize? Of course, you’ll be doing most of this while your students are not in the classroom. BUT, you can enlist your students to help with some of the work!
For some reason, kids are happy to do things at school that they would groan about at home. It’s a phenomenon, but your students will GLADLY sort, wipe, and clean, especially if it’s fun, like using shaving cream to clean desks! For other ideas, check out my article on End of Year Class Management.
Reflect and Celebrate
While the year is fresh in your memory, reflect on the year. What went well? What do you want to change for next year?
- First, CELEBRATE. If you made it through this year, you can get through anything! So even if you didn’t feel so successful at times, give yourself grace and a pat on the back for everything that went well this year
- Reflect– Take a notebook, write down what you liked or disliked, what you want to change. As teachers, we are always learning, too, and there’s always room for improvement! For some ideas on routines and management, especially if you’re new to the profession, read my post Tips for New Teachers and grab free checklists for a smooth beginning of the year.
It’s so important to take time to recharge, read, relax, and mentally prepare for next year. YOU DESERVE IT!