Whether you are moving classrooms, or just packing up for the summer, end of the year clean up can be a stress-filled experience.
The year always starts out so organized, but before you know it stuff just piles up. There are all those centers materials the kids didn’t quite put away correctly the first time. All the 1/2 used pencils, scraps of paper, and workbooks piled up around the room add to the end of the year clean up nightmare.
Let’s just try not to think about the dust.
Very few school districts give teachers time at the end of the year to clean the classroom. One year in fact, I was told that the day after school let out I had to be out of my room so they could wax the floors before summer school began. Stress right?
What is a teacher to do? Well I’m here to tell you that all is not lost. You can clean the clutter, pack for the summer, and still find time to teach the tiny humans you are in charge of.
1)A successful end of the year clean up starts with a plan
First, take a look over what you plan on actually teaching your students the last few weeks of school. Make a list of the things you will need for teaching these lessons. For example, you may not need any math manipulates except for dice, so the rest can be packed up for the summer. With only 3-4 weeks of school left it is time to begin cleaning for the summer. Take all the materials you listed as things you need for teaching those last few weeks and gather them in one location. I typically use a center’s table at the front of my classroom for this purpose.
Once you have set aside your protected materials it is time to begin. Divide your classroom up into sections for cleaning. As sections are cleaned you may choose to declare them “Closed” for the year. I often will post signs in packed up center’s areas saying “Closed for the Season” or “Reopening Fall of 2018.” Typically the library center is my last to close, though sometimes if I get to it I close off all but a few baskets from the library.
2)Involve your students in your end of the year clean up
Children who are reluctant to pick up at home tend to love helping clean up at school. It’s a crazy bit of school house magic every parent wishes they could bottle, but we get it all. <<wink>> With all the end of year paperwork that we all have to complete this time of year it is a great idea to turn students loose on cleaning sections of your classroom.
Allowing all students to clean at once can be chaotic at times. I recommend making a student to-do list for cleaning. The list should include individual items students need to clean before they can help clean the classroom at large. It helps keep order if you create a list of any cleaning assignments you wish to off-load onto students to complete. Next to each listed assignment post an appropriate time of day for the task to be completed. Then allow students to sign up for 1 task at a time they wish to help with.
Some ideas for what students can do to help are:
3) End of the year clean up is time to purge!
We all know that teacher… you know the one…the teacher with every last scrap of paper they have ever been handed. They seem to have endless supplies of stopwatches in need of the correct battery, and paper circles from every hole they have punched out in the last 10 years – just in case.
Don’t be that teacher!
Don’t just pack pack up things you have never used, or are likely never to use again. Clean your filing cabinets out and get rid of worksheets you never use, or don’t really like. I start organizing and purging worksheets throughout the school year, making this an easy chore. It is not too late to start now. Choose 1 folder/file at a time and get it organized. Start with your most recent teaching unit, and work your way back from there. Throw out duplicate copies of worksheets. If you print your lesson plans, toss the plans for that unit in the folder/binder section at the front. (Read how I streamline my lesson planning process to cut clutter and improve my teaching in my blog post about strategies for surviving your first year teaching.)
4) If you don’t have time to do it all, focus on working big to small
Maybe it is too close to the last day for you to get it ll done. I hear you – I’ve been there. Then focus on the large items in your classroom and go from there. Old Printer paper boxes are great for holding all the materials you have spread around in a math or literacy center. Perhaps you don’t have time to sort it all through, but if you place all the items in a box and label it (ex: “Writing center”) unpacking in the fall will be more manageable.