8 Winning Ways To Organize Your End-Of-Year World

I used to eye those end-of-year tasks that have to be done before I left for the summer even before testing. I really dreaded them. It was a lot of work for little profit. 

I eventually realized that I could use this time to not only take care of these tasks but to give me a head start on the next year, it energized me and changed what and how I did things. Take a look at this list and see if it might help you this year.

1. Bulletin Boards. Plan, put up, and cover your bulletin boards for the new school year. I spent so many hours and days putting up bulletin boards each fall when I should have been working on lesson plans and activities. Walking into a classroom, tearing off old newspapers, and rolling up my sleeves for other tasks was such a feeling of power! I highly recommend that you think about your boards, start cutting out the components, and get those boards up!

2. Let the kids help you. Obviously, this depends on the age of students that you teach, but especially in upper elementary grades, students looooove to help do tasks and chores that I would loooooove for them to help me with! Let them collect and organize textbooks, write names and numbers into books, sort out the mess that your construction paper has gotten into, clean out cabinets, collect and organize art materials, sharpen pencils (please!), and otherwise tidy your classroom. You can actually have your room in back-to-school shape before you leave!
 3. Send home papers and portfolios as soon as you can. Many schools require teachers to keep student work portfolios as evidence for promotion/retention. Send home other graded work whenever you can. Your room will look amazingly empty.

4. Share extra worksheets. Any extra worksheets from the year? I always make several extra so I have lots of loose papers. Have students sort and divide them, then send home packets with students to keep skills fresh. Parents often appreciate this little extra.

5. Declutter. Teachers are natural hoarders, so good luck with this one! Ask yourself if you really need to keep that college notebook. Notice how much you use the things you're storing for the summer and make an effort to get rid of things you are not using.

6. Party early. You aren't in total control of the end-of-year schedule. Activities are planned up to the last day. But, if you usually have a class party or other celebration try to have it several days before the end. You won't be stuck cleaning up ice cream sprinkles on the last day.

7. Schedule the icky tasks.  The biggest, scariest, time-suckingest task I had to do each year was cumulative folders. We had to update, clean, re-organize, file new papers, write yearly grades by hand...it was a horror. Some teachers chose to do a few each day to prevent overwhelm. Others needed 3-4 uninterrupted hours to get in the groove and get it done. I fell into the second group. 

It became a manageable task when I scheduled a long afternoon after school to do only that task. If that wasn't do-able, I would block out those hours on a teacher's workday after the kids left for the year. 

Look at your to-do list. Start working on those ickiest tasks as soon as you can and don't wait until the last minute.

8. Ask the experts. Reflection. Teachers spend hours reflecting all year long. Teach your kids to reflect on the year. Ask specific questions about what went well, what didn't go well, what should be added and deleted from your classroom practices and lessons. You'll be amazed at how kids see some of the things we do. Keep a thick skin - no likes to be critiqued - and you can turn student reflections into a powerful tool for yourself.

Want some more suggestions for a successful year-end? Check out these blog posts from my friends Mary at Carrberry Creations and Lisa at All Things Special Ed!
Carrberry Creations
All Things Special Ed
     Best wishes as you wind down your year! 

Growing Grade By Grade
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