So, in no particular order, here are ten tips for packing up your classroom:
1. Before you pack up anything, take a picture of your room from different angles. Each year, I either draw a map or take pictures of my room and staple it to my bulletin board. I leave a nice note for the custodians asking them to please put my furniture back according to the map/pictures if they can. I then kindly thank them and tell them I hope they have a great summer. In the past fourteen years, I think only once has my room not been put back in perfect order. I would also suggest taking pictures of the different areas in your room so that you can see how you had it organized. Maybe I'm just getting old, but there have been many times where I think, "How in the world did this fit in there?" Having pictures helps!
2. Put all your desk things in one box labeled "DESK." It makes putting your desk back together much easier and is really the first thing you should do when you get back. I know before I even walk in my classroom, there are a million and one papers waiting for me in the office. When I set up my desk first, I have a place to put all those papers. I also always make sure I put a dollar store box opener in this box. Then when I come back to set up for September, I am not scrambling to find something to open all my supply boxes that were delivered over the summer.
3. Copy all your first week papers before you leave for the summer. It's really nice to have those back-to-school activities ready to go. It's even nicer to not have to fight for time at the copier as all the other teachers are copying right before school starts. Then, store them in a file you know you will find in September! A couple of times I have completely forgotten I did this at the end of the year and recopied it all again in September. Yeah, not so much of a time saver that way! Now, I stick a note in my "DESK" box to remind me.
4. I saw this on a blog somewhere but can't remember where. The teacher had a lot of book shelves full of books, some shelves that didn't have backs. I have a few like that and it's always a pain to box up all those books. This teacher went to Costco and purchased the big roll of plastic wrap. She just wrapped her shelves in the plastic wrap! Genius! You don't have to worry about books falling out when the shelves get moved, and there's nothing to set up when you come back for the following year. Just cut off the plastic wrap, and you are good to go.
5. I used to shelve my text books by subject. All the math books on the shelf, then all the science books, all the social studies books and so on. My textbooks are all numbered and given to the student who has that number. The year before last, I shelved the books in sets by number instead of subject. So, my student who is #1 brought me all their textbooks and I put them on the shelf together as a set. Then, I collected student #2's books, then 3, you get the idea. In September, when it came time to pass out the books, I was able to do it all in one shot. It was a real time saver.
6. Organize your class library before you leave. Even though this is a job in my classroom, our class library does get out of order to some degree. This is a great activity for your friends at the end of the year. I take all the baskets out and we put them on their desks. Each friend has to make sure the books in the baskets match the genre or guided reading level before they can put it back on the shelf. While they do this, I have them keep an index card and write down any titles they haven't read yet but would like to. It organizes my library, and it gives my friends a head start on some summer reading suggestions.
7. Do your September bulletin boards now! I have my Back to School bulletin boards done before I leave in June. I use fadless bulletin board paper, so unless I need to change the background it's a quick change up. This year I will be changing all the backing paper, put up some new borders and any bulletin board headers or decorations I want up in September. To keep it all clean and intact from the custodians that clean the room over the summer, I cover each bulletin board with plastic tablecloths from the dollar store. Then in September, it's just a quick job to pull off the plastic, and my boards are done and ready to go.
8. If you didn't use it this year, seriously consider getting rid of it or passing it on to another teacher. I am so guilty of not doing this, but have gotten better about it the past few years. I had things like odd math manipulatives I never used, some weird writing paper that wasn't good for my friends, and a bunch of classroom decoration that I just never used or used at a younger grade level. Since I couldn't stand throwing out a lot of it, I put it in the teachers' lounge on a table with a sign that said, "FREE!" It was all gone within the day! Less clutter for me and hopefully helpful to someone else.
9. Painter's Tape is your friend! We have to label all the furniture in our room. For years I used regular masking tape which just seemed to bake on over the summer and was a monster to take off. I've started using that blue painter's tape, and it's been great. I just put a strip on any furniture that needs to be labeled and use a Sharpie to write my name and room number on it. Come September, it just peels right off with no sticky residue. I actually use painter's tape during the school year for different things. This year I used it to make a huge number line on the floor of our classroom when I was teaching addition and subtraction of positive and negative integers. My friends were able to actually stand on it and solve problems by moving their bodies up and down the number line.
10. Enlist the help of your friends! They can do a lot more than just clean up the class library. If you are planning to reorganize your desk arrangement for next year, have them do it now before they go. It's much easier for them to each move one desk than for you to move a whole class. I also give mine odd jobs such as sharpening all the colored pencils for next year, weeding out our magic marker bucket to get rid of all the dry markers, and going through the crayon baskets to get rid of bits and pieces. I then have them refill these containers with new supplies for the next year.
(EDIT: I should mention that this post led to my being interviewed by Scholastic magazine, along with some other great teacher, on an article all about packing up your classroom for the summer. If you would like to read the article, you can click HERE. It has even more great ideas by other teachers!)
If you teach younger kids, or even older, there's a fun book you can read before enlisting the help of your friends in packing the room. It is called Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom! by Kelly DiPucchio.
It is really cute. Mrs. McBloom has been teaching for 50 years, and not once in all those years has she ever cleaned up her classroom. Now that she is retiring, she has to clean that room. It's very funny to see all the things the kids come across as they help her clean the room at the end of the year. I should note that, if you click on the link for the book, for some reason the summary of the book at Amazon is for a totally different book. The summary they have is completely wrong! You can scroll down and see the reviews from other sources. They are on the actual book.
Well, those were the tips I could think of off the top of my head. I hope you found them somewhat helpful. If you have any tips that work for you, please feel free to post them in the comments. I would love to hear them!