Ending the school year right is critical to enjoying your summer and getting next year off to a good start. Thinking about my own years of teaching, I know that the idea of “Well begun is half done” really means that beginning the next year starts much earlier than we think. Like, you know, while the previous year is still going.
(Truth: Around April, I usually start thinking, “Hey, this year, I’m so over you. I’m totally just thinking about next year.”)
Here are my tips for ending the school year right
Pack up well
Decide on the stuff you’re going to work on over the summer (or that you have the best of intentions to work on) and put it in an easy-to-move and easy-to-store-at-home container.
Pack up the stuff you don’t want stolen, even if you are leaving it in your classroom. #happenedtome
Think about moving back in. Just like in a house move, you may want to have a box of “I’ll need this right away!” supplies like scissors, tape, staplers and command strips that you will need toot suite when you step foot back on campus.
2. Take pictures
Photograph your bulletin boards, desk arrangements, centers and anything else you’re going to have to reconstruct when you come back. Organize the pictures (even on your phone) in the order you want to recreate them when you get back. For example, desk arrangement is more critical than bulletin boards. To most people.
3. Make a wish list
Make a list of what you would like to have for your classroom. Use an Amazon wishlist or just a memo in your phone. Be sure to include prices and priority so that as the summer goes by you can review the list and invest in those things you really want. For those of us who pore through teacher catalogs as an Olympic event, this is hard.
4. Take time to get rid of the stuff you don’t need/want
This is the hardest one to do, so I’ve buried it here in the middle of the list, but it’s the most important. It can be very hard to remember that you will be even busier in August. Take the time now, or you will not do it later, and you will end up living with things you don’t need or want in your classroom all next year.
5. Make the copies you will need for the first two weeks of school.
So, teachers fight over the copier at the beginning of school like customers wanting the last Tickle Me Elmo at Wal-mart. Avoid that by planning what you will need copied at the beginning of the year and doing that before you go. It will give you moments of joy all summer just thinking about it. I’m not exaggerating.
6. Survey students
I do a “Year in Review” activity you can download for free that I have students fill out. I read them carefully, and they influence everything from the way I set up my classroom to the way I emphasize content. I highly recommend it.
7. Plan your first week
Look, the best laid plans of mice and teachers include tons of concentrated summer planning time. About that. It hardly ever happens. Now, you kind of had to do this a little bit to get your first two weeks’ copies made, but I mean more than just the typical list of supplies and rules you know you have to hand out.
Really think about how you can launch your new school year, not just start it. Starting your school year off right is heavily influenced by how intentional you are by what you will do that week. You have a short window in which students will form their opinions about you and the class, so carefully consider the way you will spend that precious time.
I began every year reading, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” to students. Do you have a tradition for the beginning of school? Is there room for another one? Can your whole first week be an experience, not just a typical start? I promise, it’s worth it.
So there are my ideas for ending your school year right. I love to hear any of yours!