Whew – only 6 weeks left of school! Yeah we almost made it. Every year is different but no matter how great my class is, once the weather gets good I can’t wait for it to be done for a while. The kids always seem to feel that way too.
This time of year I find myself make A LOT of lists. I try to keep myself very focused, and try to stay ahead of things. My DRAs are always done a bit early. Since I keep my grade book in excel and do a mail merge for report cards, I only have to add in a math test score, and 2 spelling test grades, hit merge and print. So, I’m almost done. I start organizing Cumulative folders this week, and I should be done with those early as well.
Why do I do all this end of the year stuff early you may ask? Well, no matter how busy the end of the school year is, the beginning always seems busier. If I’m going to run out of time for something it will be then. I have learned over the years to front load as much of next year’s set up now as I can, so at the start of the year it won’t be so crazy. I wanted to share some of my do-ahead tips today so maybe you can also get a head start on next year and start it off a bit less chaotic. The following is a list of things you can do in the last 2-3 weeks of school to make your next year set up go more smoothly.
1. Do some clean up- art projects. I add a art/writing center to the rotation the last couple of weeks of school. Everything I have just laying about such as paper scraps, paint that is mostly used up, mostly empty glitter, wax paper bits, tissue paper scraps, old magazines, etc… is placed in a bin on my writing center table. (I make a list of what I will need to replenish for the start of next year at the same time, and tape the art cabinet shut for the summer.) The center is a multi day project. students create a pice of artwork that represents a favorite scene from a favorite story we read that year. When the art work is complete (if they get to it) they must write an opinion piece on why that scene was the best all year. On the last day of school my students can grab what they want from he center, and the rest goes in a trash bag.
2. The last week of school we take down the word wall. I use fabric to cover my boards so it can usually be used for more than one year. If I need to replace the fabric I do it now. I also hang a new word wall sign and letters. Then Cover the whole bulletin board with newspaper. In the fall I can pull the newspaper down and al I need to do to my word wall is add students’ names. ( This can be done for all the bulletin boards if you have time.)
3. Now is the time to clean off all the dry erase boards for the next year. For stubborn stains you can trying cleaning it by writing over the marker mark with a vis-a-vis (overhead projector) pen, another thing that works well is nail polish remover. Just don’t use either of those tricks on your smart board, they can damage the screen. For a SmartBoard a Mr. Clean Magic eraser works best, and windex also works well. Just make sure neither get the board too wet.
4. My school counts copies, but at the end of the year becomes very lax, with all the report cards, and cumulative folder contents that need to be copied. So, I take this time to run my sub packets for the next year. I put these in my sub tub and cover it with a trash bag so it doesn’t get dusty over the summer. I also run first week of school sheets I know I will use – like my reading interest inventories, and favorite all about me activity for the start of the year. Just be careful not to run anything that may change over the summer, like a parent letter containing the class schedule.
5. The last few days of school I have my students help me sort out the classroom library. We check books for damage, or missing labels, and more sure they are sorted into the correct bins. Once everything is in its correct bin we cover each bin with a plastic bag for the summer.
6. If you have a classroom prize box, clean it don’t empty it. I have made the mistake a few times of giving away all my prizes on the last day of school to “clean out” my prize box for the summer. Then when the first time rolled around to give out prizes I was running to a big box store before school to make sure I had stuff in my prize box. Setting up the prize box can get lost in the chaos of the first week of school, so it is best to leave it ready to go for the first day if you can.
7. I may not know my class schedule for next year, but I can get my lesson plans binder mostly set up. I get a new binder and dividers. (I like to save lesson plans year to year – quirky I know… but hey, we all have our “thing.”) I insert next year’s school calendar, monthly pages, copy of the CCSS standards, and a few note paper pages. I like to type my lesson plans and then insert them in my binder as I go through the year, but I sometimes run a copy of this year’s first week’s plans into the binder so I have a place to start from at the start of next year. I always make notes in my lesson plan book about what went well, or didn’t go well, so it can help with next year’s planning.
At the start of the school year I arrive to a classroom that is mostly ready. I just have to add student names to everything, and place the correct schedules on the wall. Then I can focus on on the beginning of year team meetings, year long pacing guides, lesson planning, and reading through cumulative folders and IEPs. There’s a lot to do at the start of the year, and I love not having to set my room up from scratch as well.
What do you do this time of year to get ready for the next? I would love it if you left a comment below!