As we begin to wrap up the school year (finally), I love to strategically begin packing up and organizing my classroom. Notice that I say “packing up” mainly because I actually switch classrooms nearly every year. Often, I even have multiple classrooms in one year so my teaching equipment is sort of spread across campus.
However, I can joyfully announce that I have just ONE classroom next year (fingers crossed nothing changes) so I will be moving everything to that room. So, over time I’ve developed some strategies for effectively organizing and storing my materials as the year winds to a close and I’d love to share them with you all today!
1. Do it slowly. One of my top priorities each year is spending minimal time outside school hours working. Therefore, I do this process slowly over the month of May into June. I pack up one section or one element of my classroom at a time. For example, this week I took down some decor. Not all of it- just all of the items with gold fringe (think 1920s party, which we did a few months ago and left up for fun). Packing up slowly over time ensures that the end result of a clean, organized classroom will happen without making the process overwhelming.
2. Don’t take down the decorations all at once. If you do this, your students will begin to check out mentally. And with finals looming, we don’t want to contribute to that tendency. So I take down a few decorations here and there, but leave the main ones (like bulletin boards) for the last week of school. It helps to start organizing files, copies/binders for next year, and similar tasks first. Clean out the cupboards and unseen areas like your desk as a priority in the beginning to middle of May.
3. Use your TA. If you’re lucky enough to have have a TA or two (or student volunteers), ask for help. Create a system where they can organize for you. Teaching them up front is initially more work, but helps so much in the long term as your time is freed up to complete tasks only you can do.
4. Make a comprehensive list of tasks to complete so that you can calendar the tasks. Once you’ve got your list, pace them out slowly. This will also help you determine which tasks can be done by others. For example, I need to move everything in my classroom to another classroom. Sure, I could just do it myself over the summer, but why would I choose that when my TA can slowly move things over the course of the next few weeks. Use your resources and avoid feeling overwhelmed. You’ll thank yourself later 😉
Best of luck to you on your quest!