Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How Do You Prepare for the End of the School Year?

In our wonderful area of the United States midwest, many schools will be finishing up their school year by June, or end by mid-June.  This is the time many of us wrap up with last minute projects, pack away our supplies, and lock the doors until the next school year.  Some teacher are year round, and return in another month, while others report back in mid-August.

As a former cart-pusher, I loved the end of the year.  I always spent time re-organizing my cart for the next year, cleaning out over-used materials, and re-labelling my storage boxes on the shelves.  I would -re-order my lesson plan boxes from Fall to Spring, and wipe down all the surfaces.  All was done in less than a day, and once that cart was pushed pack into the storage closet, I just handed in my keys.

As much as there are frustrations about being on a cart, my favorite part was setting up at the beginning and cleaning up at the end.  I no longer have that now that I teach from two classrooms, so my beginning of the year prep for three schools in two weeks (one classroom, two carts) went to three weeks (two full classrooms).

Everyone is different in setting up and cleaning up.  Many have one classroom, others have carts, some share a room.  We each have our own ways of preparing for the end of the year.  Currently, I'm doing this in my third trimester, which has a whole new meaning to cleaning's called nesting.  As I'm preparing my new nursery for a new baby, I'm preparing two classrooms for a maternity sub and easy transition for coming back.  Fun!!!!

I wanted to offer a few tips I use when preparing at the end of the school year.  Everyone handles it their own way, and I'm interested in hearing how others prepare to pack up their room, or what activities are given in those last weeks of school.

Make a checklist of what has to be done.  Have you ever stumbled across a display you forgot to take down in the last hour before you check out? happens.  Make an inventory of what needs to be taken down, what deadlines you have, as well as other end-of-the-year requirements you may have, such as:

1. When grades are due (report cards need to be sent out on that last day!)
2. Awards that need to be written out
3. A tally of assemblies and odd days that interfere with your curriculum schedule (6th grade days,  
    concerts, sports days, 1/2 days, etc.)
4. Handing back last minute projects collected for classes and/or entries for art contests
5. Areas in your room that need to be organized

Yes, reorganize.  It's a big word and very stressful, but you'll feel much better in the beginning of the year when you know where everything is and where to place new supplies.  The thing I disliked about having a storage room was packing everything in boxes.  When a box is buried, you forget what's in there.  After a few years, you discover a back-up of supplies you over ordered because you simply "forgot" what supplies were hidden, or even where they were.  Then you say,"I could have spent that money on something else when writing up my supply budgets!"  Re-organizing can prevent that from happening over and over again, so take the extra time to do it, especially when you're on a tight budget with little space.

Make another checklist of what you need for the next school year.  For classrooms, this is extremely helpful because you can walk in on that first day of setting up in August with a bag of new items.  I'm referring to cleaning materials, new wipes, little dust brooks, and random teaching supplies that can be purchased at the dollar store.  When I cleaned up the cart, I had to purchase new magnets every year, new dry-erase markers, and other items to help ease the challenge of pushing the cart.  Do you refill glue bottles?  Funnels are incredibly helpful when holding the gallons of glue.  Plan your lists according to your situation.

Slowly pack away your supplies.  I made a big mistake this year: I'm still acrylic painting on the very last full day of school.  Within an hour after that last class, I will have traveled to my second school to teach more classes in the afternoon with no time to clean up all the materials and pack it away correctly.  It happens.  Many of my end-of-the-year projects are set up to be basic materials from my "creation station" cart, which are crayons, colored pencils, and markers to completes artworks.  Scissors and glue are also available, with some colored paper left that wasn't packed away.  

Create end-of-the-year projects using light materials, but keeping the concepts.  If you're reading this with the idea that "You must teach the best to the very end," you're long as you still stick with the concepts and not waste time with "free draw." Some of my favorites are 1 or 2 point perspective, shape drawing assessments with primary grade levels, and parody projects.  If planned correctly, your students still have plenty of fun with simple materials, and they're learning valuable ideas in art and design.  Projects mentioned will be shared in near-future posts, so stay tuned.

To everyone reading, good luck with your last few weeks, and keep in touch this summer.  I love summer not only for time with my family, but for finding new ideas to use in my classrooms for next year!

How do you prepare for the end of the year?

1 comment:

  1. I made checklists for each class period to make sure I hand everything back. Unfortunately, I do have some extra work this year as everything has to be packed up because they're remodeling my school over the summer. So I had to pack up the Art storage room and my classroom. Plus separating out my personal belongings from it as well because I;m not returning to that school next year. I started early, so I'm grateful I did that as I am 90% done packing the storage room and doing somewhat simple projects to the end, except for sewing. That's not very simple but it's not paint messy. So it's ok. Definitely a new end of the year experience for me.