I know that the end of the year is fast approaching, for some faster than others (like myself… who still has 1 month left of school!). When the end of the year is upon us, we get very excited about summer vacation, but what if I told you there were 5 easy things to prepare for next school year that will greatly help you out in the fall? Some people won’t do them, and that’s fine! You’ve got summer on the brain! But… if you do give these 5 things a try, I bet you’ll be thanking me come fall! These tips are mostly helpful for teachers staying in the same room and teaching the same grade, but anyone can try them out!
Organize: EDIT Home edit style your classroom
Have you seen the Home Edit yet? You laugh, you cry, you want to organize all the things. Well, my first easy thing to prepare for next year is to edit your classroom. In Home Edit they describe editing as the first part of the organization process – getting rid of things. Go through sections of your classroom. What supplies, materials, tools, books, have you not used at all that year? Any materials you haven’t used in more than 1 year? GET RID OF THEM! I know… I know it is hard to get rid of things. But what if we need them next year?! Well, chances are, if you haven’t used them at all that school year or over multiple school years, then you just don’t need them at all.
Classrooms need empty space. We get new curriculum, materials, supplies every year. They need a place to go. Some of us buy stuff every year, whether we need it or not. They need a place to go. I have seen retiring teachers spend all year just going through their whole room trying to sort and get rid of things from decades ago – literally those materials or worksheets or books have been sitting in the room taking up space and gathering dust for decades. Don’t be that teacher! Give your room some empty space so you can grow and change with the changes in curriculum. You also want empty space to give room for your students to take ownership of the space. You want space to hang up their work and display their creations.
So, have I convinced you yet? I always spend a few weeks at the end of the year going through sections of the room to edit my materials and get rid of things I don’t need anymore. And I am always SO thankful when the fall comes around to have more space to work with. I never miss what I get rid of – I never even think of it.
Organize: re-organize or change the layout
The second thing that you can do to prepare for the next school year is to categorize and contain your materials. Once you get rid of materials and supplies and have more space, spend some time re-organizing your space. I don’t know about you, but I often am so tired after the school day that sometimes I just shove things in cabinets so I don’t have to think about them…. Whoops! It’s true. Out of sight, out of mind. Until I try to go looking for them again.
So, I always spend time at the end of the year re-organizing my messes and making sure that my supplies and materials are organized in the best way possible. Every year I make my systems better and more efficient… but then I need my organization to catch up. I take it area by area. And if I don’t get to an area, then either I decide to do it over the summer or I make sure to do it the following year.
You can always have students help with this too. Take out all the supplies on a table and have them sort them into categories. You could put one example in each category you want and then have them do the rest. Many children love to organize and would love this special task.
You can also take the time at the end of the year to try out different layouts. Move the furniture around and see how the children like the changes to get an idea for how it will work in your space for next year. I like to make a map on the computer so that I can use it year after year and just move the pieces around that I’ve changed.
Back to school letters
Each school does this a little differently, but at my school we have to have the letter done before the end of the school to give to the office. But, however your school does it, I definitely recommend writing your back to school letter before the school year ends. If you are teaching the same grade, you can reuse most of the same letter anyways- why change a good thing?!
If you don’t have all the information you like to share with families – like a schedule or supply list- at least get the rest of the letter done and then highlight the part that needs changing. This way, you won’t forget to update it when you go to send it! I know that my summer brain really shuts down most of my teaching ideas, at least for a while, so if I had to write my letter over the summer… it wouldn’t be as good as one I made at the end of the year!
Back to school copies
Ok, hear me out. It’s not crazy! You WILL thank me come fall! There are some activities that I do year after year at the start of the year. I get these copies done before school is over. This way, I don’t even have to think about running to the copier and waiting in the long line before school starts! This way I am not stressed about the back to school activities and lessons. There’s so much to think about before school – this isn’t one of them for me!
And if I change my mind over the summer and find a new activity? That’s fine! The copies I’ve made can become backup activities (because you never know those first few weeks if you’ll need an extra time-filler or not!) or they can become scrap paper. The activities and lessons I use every year are found in my Back to School products (I have them for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade!).
Copies for units
There are some science and social studies units that I like to have journals made for the kids. I know that I will be teaching those units and using those journals, so I make the journals at the end of the school year when I have more time. This way, they are ready to go for next year and I don’t have to worry about making sure they are ready in time for the next unit. I also know what writing paper I will need (and we need a lot of it) and so I get some of that ready for the next year as well. It is such a relief to just pull out the journals or papers I need throughout the year without worrying about getting them ready during the busy school year.
1 Bonus easy thing to prepare for next school year
Decide if you want to do any summer projects! I am a big believer in trying to take all the time that is given to relax, refresh, and renew your excitement. This means not doing a ton in your classroom. But, every year I do pick 1 or 2 projects to work on to help prepare for next school year. Not more than that. One year I tackled my library to organize and label it the way I wanted. Another year I rearranged the layout. One year I rearranged my purposeful play materials. One year I focused on my monthly books, making sure they were organized.
So, if you can, pick 1 or 2 projects that you want to work on over the summer. Do you need to bring anything home? Are you organizing worksheets into binders or folders? Are you labeling things? Maybe you need to take pictures to remember what categories you want to make labels for or write down measurements of a space you want to find a new shelf for. At my school, there are some times we can’t access our space. So, having what I need for my summer projects not only saves me a trip, but also means I can do them whenever I want. I don’t need to wait to have access to my room.
Even if your mind is already in summer mode, there are 5 easy things you can do to prepare for next school year that will save you a ton of time and stress in the fall and throughout the whole year! If you give them a try, and they do save you time, which you will, comment below or send me a message on social media and let me know!