Packing Up Your Classroom…The Time Has Come!
You’ve controlled the chaos of the last weeks of school, state testing is done, but packing up your classroom is the LAST HURDLE you have to jump to get to Summer! By this point in the school year, teachers are so wiped out, it is easy to just throw everything into a box labeled “Miscellaneous” and call it a day! But, that leaves you kicking yourself the next school year as you attempt to unpack and set up your classroom, only to realize you can’t hang any bulletin boards until you find that damn stapler…
Take some time NOW to organize your pack-up, so that next year can start smoothly! The first tip is to start ahead of time! This is a ten day (2 week) plan that will help make packing up your classroom less overwhelming and more organized. If you don’t have 2 weeks, combine a few of the days to fit your needs, but following a schedule will help keep you on track!
Remember, the GOAL is to
- Pack everything in a way that will make it easy to set up next year
- Get it done EFFICIENTLY so you can start your Summer!
**Print out the FREE TIMELINE AND CHECKLIST at the bottom of this post!
Timeline for Successfully Packing Up Your Classroom
3 Weeks Out: ** If you are able, start 3 weeks out doing step 1. If not, simply incorporate this into your remaining weeks.
Step 1- Clear the Surface Areas!
Begin throwing away/eliminating all of the “trash” over the course of the week. A little bit every day! Teachers are notorious for saving everything on the off chance we may actually need that oddly-shaped, dust collecting item for when we do that one experiment that we never actually have time to do. Let’s see, for me this year, it was a floppy disc, a jar of marbles from a yard sale, and a set of baseball cards that would be perfect for a lesson if I taught 6th grade math…which I don’t. Here is my strategy for determining “trash:”
- any materials I haven’t used in 2 years
- extra copies-these you may not throw out, but at least file away and get them off the surface areas of your classroom
- any bins/trays/buckets that don’t currently work with your classroom systems-sit them outside your room, trust me, they will disappear!
- student work that you don’t need to keep
Days 1-2: Manipulatives
Take 2 days to pack up all of your math/reading manipulatives like unifix cubes, dice, counters, rulers, highlighter strips, etc. Anything that you would typically use during centers or small group can go-you are done with small group instruction at this point!
Pack these items in clear bins that you can easily see into if possible. If you don’t have any available, simply label the outside of the box with the items inside. Next year, unpack these last – no need for dice to be rolling around before the desks/shelves are set up!
Day 3: Books
I am talking about your classroom library books, not textbooks! The BEST way to pack up books is by your classroom library system. ABC order? Genre? Author? Whatever your system, try rubber banding sets of books together and sticking a post-it note to mark its section. For example: I have my library organized by genre, so I grab 4-5 books at a time from the “fantasy” section and band them together until I have all of the fantasy books packed, each group noted with a post-it labeled “fantasy.” Continue in this fashion until all books are banded and labeled.
TIP** Get your students to help you!! They love to help and this will save you time!
Day 4: Decor
Here’s what falls into this category:
- wall hangings
- furniture that does not belong to the school (you need to take home)
- trinkets or fixtures that adorn your cute little classroom (in my case, about 20 peacock feathers and figurines!)
Day 5: Bulletin Boards
I figured out this handy little tip when I was packing up and planning for maternity leave. Since I knew that my sub would be setting up my classroom, I took down the bulletin boards and stored each one in an individual bin. I re-use my border each year because I love it and I have kept the same general “theme” for a few years now. If you want to keep your border, take down each piece and number the back, starting from the upper left corner. That way, next year you can easily put it back together without figuring out which sections are the right size, etc. Just stick them up by number!
Additionally, I took a picture of each board as I took it down, so I could easily see how to recreate it in August. Place the image in the bin with the bulletin board materials.
Day 6: Students take home notebooks/extra supplies/ “stuff”
Desk clean out!! Have your students take home pretty much everything. They will probably still need a pack of crayons and pencils to finish out the week, but science/history notebooks? Take ’em home! Binders, extra supplies, folders, erasers shaped like ice cream, take it ALL HOME! This makes packing up your classroom easier for the remainder of the week.
Day 7: Textbook Inventory
Each school has its own system of accounting for each textbook, but at the very least you can collect and account for each textbook in your room. Stack them by subject and make sure your count matches that from the beginning of the year. If you have missing books, e-mail or call parents today! Record your totals on the appropriate paperwork for your school.
Day 8: Personal Items
Take home any items that won’t stay over the summer, and pack up your desk. Label this box OPEN FIRST – DESK SUPPLIES so that you can easily access your stapler/scissors/tape for when August rolls around and you have to set everything up again!
Day 9: Sanitize
Wipe down all surfaces (bookshelves, file cabinets, etc) and have students help you clean off the desks. Pack away any remaining items! You are almost done packing up your classroom!
Day 10: Move & Stack
Have students move their chairs and desks to the area designated by your school, and stack them accordingly. Move all furniture and bookshelves on this day, as well.
Packing up your classroom has never been easier! Say goodbye to the munchkins, and say HELLO to SUMMER!
Don’t forget to print out the FREE CHECKLIST below! It’s on our Free Resources page!