Teaching Tip Tuesday – Packing Up for the Year

Last year when I inherited my new classroom, I also inherited a mess. It took me nearly two weeks to clean the classroom up, organize resources, throw out garbage, and clean off the chalkboard.

I really wasn’t expecting to walk into a disaster zone, and, I tell you, I didn’t appreciate it at all. I just wanted to move in, see what resources the class already had, unpack my stuff, get organized, do some planning, and get ready for the new school year.

There is a lot of preparation to do for each and every school year. And it is a time consuming thing. The list above barely scratches the surface. That being said, I don’t want to walk into a disaster when I inherit my new classroom. I think that this is something all teachers need to think about at the end of each and every year.

For most of us, there are two weeks left of school, our assessment in completely done and the report cards have been written. But our work is not done.

Let’s make sure that our classroom is organized and clean before we hand in our keys and leave for the summer.

I know that I will be in a different room with a different assignment next year. I’m looking forward to the change and the challenges that are sure to come with it. What I’m not looking forward to is the prospect of another disaster zone.

Here are some tips on how to leave your room. You should consider doing these things even if you are returning to the same grade and room next year, because, we are in education after all, and there are always something happening to stir things up.

1) Group your resources together logically

This can be done several ways. I have my cupboards labeled on the outside so that it is very easy for anyone to find my resources. All the math manipulatives are in one cupboard, all my Social Studies resources are in another, all my Science resources on Forces are in one cupboard shelf, and all my Pulleys and Gears stuff is on one shelf. and so on.

You may also choose to completely clean out the cupboards so that they can be cleaned thoroughly over the summer. This is ideal and I did this last year. I took my resources that were already organized by theme and put them into cardboard boxes. I labeled these boxes with a permanent marker so that they are still easy to find and unpack. The added bonus to this is that the new teacher, doesn’t have to unpack any resources they do not plan on using.

2) Clean out your desk completely

Sure, you have markers, staples, sticky notes, paper clips and things that are always useful. However, we I inherit a new desk, I would prefer it to have empty drawers. So put all this useful stuff into a box and label it “Desk.” That way, I can unpack whatever I want and add it to my own stuff as well when I load up my desk.

3) Clean out and empty the filing cabinet.

Extra worksheets and other papers left behind could be put into a box to use as scarp paper. If there are some good resources, make up a file for each subject area and then put these all in a box labeled “Curriculum Resources” Make sure to get rid of any personal data on the students. I would like to have a clean filing cabinet when I come into your class so I can have a place to create my student files, and my hand out file folders for each day of the week. (more about this tip in a future post)

4) Keep a pile of extra workbooks and student resources out and handy.

Teachers will need to order materials so it is really nice to see if you have a surplus of things in your class. It will save me a lot of time and money in ordering stuff I don’t really need.  It’s good to see if the classroom already has things like workbooks, rulers, glue, erasers, etc.

5) Leave it cleaner than you found it.

This is a motto that I learned in scouts and one that I strive to live by. I know that the teacher who inherited my room last year, had a nice and easy task. I am hoping for the same thing this year when I move rooms. If we all live by this simple rule, the world would be a much cleaner place. And that is in all our best interest.

Thanks for joining me for yet another Teaching Tip Tuesday post.

Please add to the discussion by leaving a comment or sending me an email. If you would like to write a guest post, please send me an email. We’ve already had two great guest posts here and I would love to hear from more teachers all over the world. Teachers helping teachers, that’s what it is all about.

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3 responses to “Teaching Tip Tuesday – Packing Up for the Year”

  1. All I have to say is thank you for this post. I inherited a messy classroom in the past, and I absolutely could not stand it. I always strive to leave my room better than I found it, and I will most definitely take the points you have outlined above into account the next time I pack up a room, whether it be to move or simply because it's the end of the year. If everyone does the same, we'll all be better off for it.

    – Elle

  2. Great ideas for packing.

    I am moving to a new grade / new classroom as well so I would add that old resources should be disposed of.

    I spent solid weeks cleaning a room last year and found curriculum documents and resources for the past 50 years in the room.

    My co-worker says we should be able to move our personal stuff with 4 boxes, given the access to internet / resources now. I don't think that's doable for me but not too far off.

    Enjoy your new grade/s

  3. Hi Elle,

    I thought this was just common sense and courtesy. Of course, I want to leave my classroom cleaner than I found it. I don't know why people wouldn't want to do this.

    It blows my mind how many messy classrooms I've seen over the years. Let's teach our students to be neat and organized and respectful of those who come behind us. It's a small lesson but often, those are the best lessons we can give.

    Hi Anonymous,

    I agree with you. Old and outdated resources should be tossed as well. Thanks for adding that suggestion to the list.

    I have more than 4 boxes of resources too. I keep them at school because that is where I do all my planning. Fortunately each classroom has its own storage closet and bookcase. It's just perfect.