So school is out or nearing to a close. If your school is like ours, they will clean over the summer and all your furniture gets pushed to one side or you have to take things down and put them away. BUT even though you’ll have to set things back up before school starts, this is still a good time to prepare for next school year by cleaning and purging. Here are a few things I would always do before I closed the door and went out to enjoy my summer.
Step 1 -Purge and Clear the Clutter
I had a rule in my room when it came to papers… If it didn’t fit into two small filing cabinets, then I didn’t need it. You can see from this photo (amidst a dance party), my two filing cabinets. At the end of each year, I’d go through the files contained in those 4 drawers and would pitch anything that was a worksheet or dated more than 2 years ago. The only thing I kept were original lesson plans, student data from the past two years, and blank masters. Each lesson/unit has it’s own file that contains lesson ideas, articles, and plans. But no worksheets. I didn’t really use worksheets a lot anyway, but when I did, I’d create new ones each year that would fit my group of students. The questions I’d asked the previous year or activities I’d present to one group of students would always change. So get rid of anythings that applies to the past year – this also included memos from the front office, notes from parents about absences, and meeting agendas. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!
Also look around your room. What areas were filled with constant clutter? For me, it was ALWAYS my reading group supplies. I had tons of activities, games, file folders, white boards, etc that were just shoved on the floor behind my table. Ugh. So I bought a rolling cart full of colorful drawers and organized my space. It didn’t get done until the kids left for the summer, but I knew that I was prepared for the next school year. Which leads me into my next to-do…
Step 2 – Re-organize
As I said, take an area that was cluttered or even an area that just needs some tending and straighten it up/reorganize. I mentioned that your students can help you do some of this while they are still in school. This includes making sure each library bin contains the correct books, each game has all of it’s pieces, the math manipulatives are put back in their proper bins, and all of the name labels are removed from cubbies, desks, and other supplies. Also all broken crayons, dried markers, and dull colored pencils have been thrown away. When you don’t have to do this at the end of your summer, you can focus on other things that are more important.
Step 3 – Reflect
Take about ten minutes to jot down things that you liked or didn’t like about this school year in terms of room design. I would make a list that looked very similar to the one above. On the one hand I would think about the things that I wanted to keep for the following year. On the other had, I’d list what didn’t work for the students, therefore noting the changes that would have to take place before the next school year. When you do this as it’s fresh in your mind, you can make the appropriate changes BEFORE the next school year begins. For example, my reading area was right by the door during the 2009-2010 school year. It was so distracting and the kids were more focused on what was going on outside the room than their books. So for the 2010-2011 school year, I moved it to the cozy corner you see here. This space was free from distractions, more conducive to the cozy feeling I was going for, and allowed for the space by the door to be open, causing the room to feel much larger. Also by making a list, you’re holding yourself accountable to change things before the kids arrive the next year. Tuck it into a space where you can easily find it when you return at the end of the summer. Like, maybe the front of your Teacher Anchor???
By taking steps toward organizing and preparing for next school year now, you can have more time to enjoy your summer later. This summer, I’ll only be blogging primarily on Monday/Wednesday/Fridays. Mostly I’ll be giving you some professional development tips, previews of the new C. Jayne Teach shop (launching August 1st!!!) and more Fired Up Fridays. I’ll be back with lesson plans and ideas to get your room set up for the next school year towards the end of July. So enjoy your summer, but also stay tuned for lots of good stuff from C. Jayne Teach. Yay!