By Lani Aquino
As the number of days in the year decreases, it seems that the items on the to-do list tend to see an increase. One item that can easily be checked off that pre-summer list is packing up the classroom. Storing materials and tidying the shelves can often feel like an overwhelming task, and it’s one that also brings a mix of emotions as the preparations for the closure of one school year and the ease of transitioning into a new one come into play. Teachers are working to send current students off with a positive mindset for learning while the learning and needs of an entirely new group of students are starting to ping on the radar.
When it comes to packing and prepping the classroom, it’s best to do so with a set plan. Whether everything has to get boxed to move or shelved to stay, a good packing job can’t be done with a haphazard mindset during a single planning period, recess, or other quick break. This approach could lead to a disjointed feeling at summer’s start and a frazzled return in August. Hopefully a bit of spring cleaning in the classroom has already occurred, and tackling packing can go off without a hitch. This 3-step packing process will help teachers feel confident as they head out the doors to end the school year and at ease as they return to begin the new one.
Define the goal of summer. This goal shouldn’t be too lofty or too little. There is definitely some benefit to choosing just one big idea to be the focus of summer planning and strategizing. All teachers know they’d be hard-pressed to find a colleague who doesn’t devote a portion of the summer respite to the next year’s learning pursuits. When there’s a plan in place for where those attentions will be focused whether it be professional development, creating new lessons, revamping old lessons, tackling technology, etc., the take-home materials to accomplish said task(s) can be easily determined.
Pull the to-go materials. With a defined goal, the resource list for the to-go bag/box/crate was just created. No one wants to leave for the summer without that must-have resource, or perish the thought, have to return to the classroom or storage area to find a forgotten item. As the final day approaches, place a to-go container in an easily accessible spot, so that the needed items can be added. This is when that file with a great lesson that needs a little updating can be pulled, so summer work on transforming it into a flipped model or introducing a PBL approach can take place. If digital files aren’t stored within a cloud program, the coveted flashdrive is a must bring. Information about some intriguing PD opportunities or new strategies that have peaked an interest can also make their way into the homebound foray.
Label and Load. Sanity can be saved with sticky labels and a Sharpie. The to-go bin has been doing its job of collecting the items that will head home, but the majority of the classroom materials will likely remain. Taking the time to label in the spring will make the return at summer’s end much easier. Label a bin with the must-have supplies (i.e., pens, post-its, tape, stapler) for getting the classroom in order, the first day plans and materials, wall décor and/or beginning of the year bulletin board(s), books and resources, consumable supplies, etc. Knowing what is in all those boxes on the shelves will make pulling what’s needed and setting up the classroom for the next round of students a more effortless task. Once all is labeled, the shelves can easily be organized, and the to-go materials can be loaded for the journey home.
Packing with a purpose can put a teacher’s mind at ease and make all the difference for a smooth start to summer and a hassle-free return upon summer’s end. By defining the goal(s) of summer, procuring what’s needed to complete them, and ensuring all the rest is properly stored and labeled, a few more relaxing moments can be achieved. It’s time to make that plan, grab those Sharpies, and head into summer for a much needed recharge!
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