5 things you MUST do at the end of the school year to have a good beginning of the school year.
Here in the Midwest, we know we are nearing the end of the school year when we put the ice scrapers away, find Easter candy on the lunch room table, teachers look a bit raggedy and students’ shorts have gotten shorter than their attention span. In other parts of the world I’m sure there are different signs to signal the end of the year but one thing is for sure, all teachers start to feel that bubble of excitement in the pit of their stomach that means freedom is close enough to touch. The only problem is that between you and those blissful days of summer are several weeks of tests, grading, make-up work, cleanup, packing, hand holding, goodbyes and many, many tears. It’s enough to make you say “Screw it, lets just keep going until fall!” Well, almost.
So how do you make it until the end? What should you do at the end of the school year to have a good beginning of the school year?
Have a plan!
I think most teachers naturally develop some sort of routine that they follow at the end of the school year. Whether that plan is written down or just in your head. Your plan should be reflective, but also look towards next school year. If you want to finish the school year strong AND be prepared for next year, then keep reading.
1. Reflect on this year’s lessons
Go through your lesson plan, yes the whole thing. It really doesn’t take as long as it sounds. Whether you are flipping through a planner book or scrolling through an electronic version, look at your lessons. This will spark memories. Make notes and highlight them so that when you are planning this summer (maybe?) or next year you will remember what changes need to be made. The picture below shows how I like to add changes in my plan book so that they are visible for next year. Once I make the change, I delete the note. If you have a paper lesson plan book, grab a bright color of mini sticky notes and make your notes on those and stick directly to the lesson. This step really changed my teaching and doing it at the end of the year while things are fresher in you memory is a great way to make those small changes that really make a difference. Start this a couple weeks before the end of the term. Make a list of the 5 MOST PRESSING changes you want to make and now you have your summer to do list!
You may also want to consider creating a student survey to collect ideas from students about their favorite lessons and things that they found tough. This is not always painless, I mean we put a lot of work into those lessons and kids can be (*ahem*) blunt! However, it gives us valuable information about how those lessons resonated with their intended audience.
2. Make copies for next school year
Whether you have to make your own copies or are lucky enough to be able to send them to a print shop, take the time to do this NOW! We seem to forget how long the line at the copier can be in the fall or how long it takes to get things back from the print shop. There were times that I left for the summer not knowing what I was teaching in the fall because things were still up in the air with scheduling. That’s OK! You can still print out things that you use no matter what you teach. For example, I had a HUGE science classroom with lots of stuff. So I always had my kids fill out a “get to know my classroom” form. It was an easy way to fill that last 10 minutes, get them out of their seat and cuts down on the amount of time I hear “where’s the pencil sharpener?” If you’re teaching science, there is usually also a lab safety agreement, a general lab safety lesson, discipline action plan forms…you get the idea. Anything you do before you leave will make coming back that much easier.
3. Take Inventory of consumables
Make a list of things that need to be replaced. Do this in your phone, if possible, so that it is always easily accessible. This should be an inventory of both student and teacher supplies. Do you need more colorful pens? (who doesn’t) How about post-it notes? (yes, please) How about a couple glue sticks? (Or 100) You will need this list once school supply sales are in full swing. Let’s face it, we all know how much teachers spend in their own classrooms for basic supplies, why not have a targeted list to take advantage of those sales?
Don’t forget to make a list of what you DON’T need as well. For some reason I always bought markers when they were on sale, I couldn’t seem to help myself. Every year I’d open my cabinet to put them away and find that I already had an embarrassingly big stack of them. Don’t make this mistake!
4. Organize your room
You can begin to do this well before the end of the school year. Think of it as spring cleaning.
- Gather all those stacks of filing and actually put them in a filing cabinet
- Put away equipment that you will not be using for the rest of the year
- Put labs back into their storage places
- Recycle stacks of old worksheets you no longer need
- Purge! Throw away (or give away) things you no longer need!
5. Inspect your room
We are usually in such a rush to be done for the school year that its easy to push things off until next year. However, you will be so much better off taking care of it at the end of the school year!
- Bulletin boards – We see them every day so it’s easy not to notice if something has become outdated, faded or damaged. You don’t have to figure out what you are going to replace it with, but removing it now will help you remember to replace it in the fall. Also, since some schools make you take down your bulletin board every year this is a good time to purge any of these items and make note of anything you need to buy or create for next year.
- Desks/stool/tables – is anything broken? Can it be fixed or does it need to be thrown out? Ask what to do with broken furniture and dispose of it!
- Hardware/software – tell the IT department about any problems you have with your computer, printer, document camera, software, etc.
What’s in your end of the year routine? Feel free to share in comments!