Written by Emma (Teach Starter)
Posted Monday December 3
Classroom organization is probably the last thing on your mind right now, right? You’ve worked hard all term! It’s no surprise that you might not have the time or energy to put towards frivolous forrays into the world of tidying.
Soon, however, all your beautiful cherubs will go home for a well-deserved Christmas break, and you’ll be left with a peacefully quiet classroom.
You’ll finally have time to turn your attention to the bread and butter of teaching – your resources, your room, and most importantly, yourself.
When the Christmas craft is said and done, you’ll have a chance to bask in the glory of holidays. In time, you’ll be looking to the year ahead!
Whether you want to get into it immediately or after Christmas, you’ll need to do a serious organize and tidy so that you can start the new year afresh and re-energized!
10 Tips for Classroom Organization at the End of the Year
It can feel sad to say goodbye to your students at the end of the school year. No doubt you will have formed many close relationships, fond memories, and cared for your students like they were your own.
It’s important, however, that you have your head (and your room) clear for the beautiful new students that you’ll soon meet! If you’re continuing with the same students in the new year, embrace the opportunity for a fresh start!
#1 Tie Up the Year That Was
Before you do anything else, finish marking any assessment or grading papers that you have hanging over your conscience. Ensure that your in-tray is clear and that you’ve filed all pieces of work – either send it home with your students or put it in a student portfolio for their next teacher to use as a starting point.
Our blog The Student Portfolio | Hints and Tips for Teacher Handover offers heaps of handy hints as to what work samples you can include in a purposeful student portfolio.
#2 Reflect on the Year
While everything is still fresh in your head, complete an End of Year Mindful Self Reflection for Teachers (download it for free!). Reflecting at the end of the year is a great opportunity to take a step back and concentrate on your achievements and learning journey as a teacher, and begin to plan for a successful year ahead.
You’ll answer questions like:
- What was your greatest achievement this year?
- What was your happiest moment with your students this year?
- What would you have done differently this year?
- What was your biggest struggle or cause of stress this year?
- What could you do to make next year easier?
- What will be your number one goal for next year?
#3 Clear Out Broken Stationery
If you’re one of those teachers who has a large tub of broken and half-used stationery, you’re not alone. When I was teaching, any items that were found on the floor without a label were put in the ‘No Name’ box. If a student was missing an item or needed something they didn’t have, this was their first port of call.
It’s tempting to keep these items year after year ‘just in case’. Chances are, however, you’ll just keep accumulating them until your classroom is one big ‘No Name’ box itself!
Keep the stationery that is in perfect working order. If it’s broken or nearing the end of its life – chuck it out. You don’t have to feel guilty for sending it all to landfill, either! Companies such as TerraCycle take all your old office supplies (as long as they’re not electrical!) and make sure they’re disposed of sustainably.
#4 Take Down Your Displays
When I was a teacher, designing displays was one of my favorite things to do at the start of the year. I would get crafty, using cardboard, fabric and displays I’d found online (Teach Starter of course!) and spend hours cutting, laminating and tacking them to the wall. It was always a little bit sad to disassemble the displays at the end of the term.
Here are some key tips to ensure that your displays stay in top condition and reusable for years to come:
- Take a photo before you dismantle your displays so you know exactly what is in each display, and how best to fit everything together.
- Keep each display in a large A3 plastic envelope. This will make sure nothing gets lost and you can keep it safe from moisture and dust while it’s in storage.
- Get a plastic tub for each Key Learning Area so that all your displays are together. It’s easy to find the display on Narrative writing when you know it’s in the English box!
- It’s worth it to keep displays with student names, especially if you’ve used a particular Classroom Theme Pack and are planning on re-using it. You never know when you’ll have another Matthew, Sarah or John! Why remake a perfectly good display?
#5 Refresh Your Resources
If your displays are looking a little worse for wear, it’s time to be brutal and send them to the big recycling bin in the sky. The purpose of putting up displays is to engage students in your content and provide them with a bright, happy and inclusive classroom. Having clean and tidy displays not only creates a positive classroom environment, but it also leads by example when it comes to having your students take care of their own learning environment.
Other resources you may need to refresh at the end of the year include games and manipulatives. Get out each game and make sure it has all its pieces. If not, replace them!
If you’re looking for a fresh start, browse our website – we upload dozens of new and innovative resources every week. Use Teach Starter’s Classroom Theme Packs and Studio function to create unique class names and vocabulary words year after year!
Here are some of my favorites:
If you’re having to move rooms (the bane of every teacher’s life!) make the most of the opportunity to de-clutter and sort through your belongings.
Worksheets from the 90s? Ditch them. Haven’t used that perfectly usable science kit that’s been sitting in your cupboard for years? Donate it to another teacher!
Our blog 5 Ways to Nail the Perfect End-of-Year Classroom Clean Out gives some amazing suggestions on how to declutter your classroom.
If you’re not a fan of a clean out because you’re afraid of creating trash or needing something later down the track, have a teacher garage sale where you create a pile of unwanted items and open your door to all your colleagues to come and collect!
Better yet, see if there’s an organization in the local community that would love some donated classroom items.
#7 Sort Things to Take Home
A teacher’s classroom is their home away from home. Chances are, you spend more time there during the term than you do in your own house!
Make sure you clear out your classroom of things to take home before you turn the lights off and shut the door for the final time.
Here are some suggestions of things that you might need to take home:
- lunch containers or mugs that need an extra deep clean
- cushions and rugs that may need a good clean
- any class plants or pets that can’t survive if left to their own devices
- money or valuables
- textbooks you’d like to read over the holidays
- any planning resources you want to use if you choose to work from home
- gifts you may have received at the end of the term.
#8 Pack Up What You’re Keeping
Whether you’re moving classrooms or not, the end of the year is a great time to collate and pack up your belongings. It is likely that your school will be giving your walls and floor a good clean during the holidays!
To avoid your objects being broken or misplaced, pack them away in a tidy manner and put them up against the walls with your desks and chairs. Try to keep as much intact as possible so that its ready to set out when you return after the new year.
This is also the perfect chance for you to re-organize your games, displays, folders, books and other resources! Holly’s blog 6 Cheap and Clever Classroom Organisation Hacks can get you off to a good start with the smaller bits and pieces!
For larger items such as games and displays, you can’t go past a good plastic tub. Colour coordinated tubs that fit easily onto shelving in your classroom make bright additions to your classroom without costing the earth. Alternatively, why not hang games up in plastic envelopes so that they are displayed and ready to grab when you need them in the new year?
As you pack up each area, wipe it down with a damp cloth or some spray and wipe to ensure it’s ready to go in the new year.
#9 Prep for the Year Ahead
If you feel you’ve said goodbye to the year that was, and are eager to look ahead to the future – this one’s for you!
Whether you’re continuing on in the same grade or changing it up completely (I went from teaching Grade 4/5 for five years to teaching Grade 2!), there are some staple steps you should follow to get ready for the new year.
Step 1 – Get your new class list.
Once you’ve got your new class list, you can confirm the number of resources you’ll need. Desks, chairs, pencil tubs, drawers, mini-whiteboards, tablets, the list goes on! Ensure you’re adequately prepared for your new students well ahead of time (until a surprise student enrolls, anyway!).
You might also like to take this opportunity to create some wonderful customizable name templates.
Other things you might like to get prepped once you have your class list include:
- class assessment tracker folders
- homework booklets
- reading journals
- show and tell timetable
- classroom jobs roster.
Step 2 – Prep to meet your new families.
I always like to put together a little pack at the start of the year with information for Parent Information Night.
A little page with information about me, my teaching experience and personal interests is a great icebreaker when meeting new parents. I always make sure to include a class timetable with important specialist days, a year calendar, and information on my class rules, routines and expectations. Parent communication is imperative, so you make sure everyone is up to date at the start of the year!
Step 3 – Make sure you are curriculum ready.
If you are lucky enough to stay in the same grade, chances are you will be able to reuse and recycle a lot of your planning and resources from the year before – lucky you!
For those teachers starting from scratch, printing off games, worksheets and activities for your new grade’s curriculum can save you a lot of time and stress in the future. You can guarantee literacy and numeracy basics will be used, even if you’re not sure on the specific order you’ll be teaching topics. If you have a teaching partner, collaborate with them so that you can collate and share resources. The Teach Starter website allows you to search by curriculum area – give it a try and see what wonderful resources you can find for your lucky new students.
#10 Plan Some Holiday Fun!
If all of this seems all too much like hard work, then feel free to leave it until you’ve had a chance to relax and unwind over Christmas – as I said, you’ve worked hard! You deserve a break!
Make sure you’re allowing yourself plenty of time to recover over the holiday break. Completely put school out of your head and enjoy the chance to have some much-needed ‘you’ time.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog A Teacher’s School Holiday To-Do List.
What’s on your classroom organization to do list? Comment below to let us know!
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