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NYC Helpline: How To: Get Started
How to End the Year While Planning for Next Year Allison Demas

Okay, there are less than three months left until the end of school. You are counting down the days and you are eagerly looking forward to summer vacation. The last thing you want to think about is next year.

But the perfect time to prepare for next year is during the close down of your classroom this year.

First gather all the materials you used in September (or plan to use next September). Depending upon your grade and your teaching style, you can store these materials in files, folders or storage bins. I use a combination of the three. If they are paper materials (plans, homework, graphic organizers, etc.) you can place one copy of each in a pocket folder. Label the outside of the container "September." Write up any charts you made with your class and place them in the container as well (you may remake the charts with next year’s group). Do the same thing for the rest of the months.

I teach kindergarten so I happen to have a lot of hands-on materials. As a result I need something more than files. I use large plastic bins with lids. I place any materials I need for each month in a bin and label the bin. I place any “props” I use, materials for special art projects, even seasonal books, in the bins. If you're very organized, you can itemize by topics.

I also prepare my closets for “closing down” my classroom by cleaning them. I obviously can’t do this during the day so I make plans to spend several hours after school to clean. (I happen to work in a school where many of the teachers do this so we help each other out and plan to stay on the same days - it’s just less lonely.) I work shelf by shelf and I remove everything. If I haven’t used it this year and I doubt that I will use it next year, I get rid of it. You can just throw things out or you can give them away. You can put it outside of your room with a sign on it that says “Free.” Someone will take it, guaranteed.

Next you have to put things back in the closets. Easy access is the key here. If you have to dig for something you won’t want to use it and then there is no point in having it. To store my writing paper I use stacking trays. This way I can stack my paper but still be able to remove a package of paper from the bottom of the stack with out much trouble. I use plastic vertical file organizers for my construction paper. I sort my construction paper by color. I place three file organizers on their sides. Two are facing each other and a third is placed at the back of the shelf midway between the others. I then place the paper in each section of the organizers going horizontally instead of vertically. This way I can easily get even just one piece of paper from the bottom of the stack.

Once your necessities are in place you can fill up the rest of the closets - neatly. Again, plastic storage boxes come in very handy (especially if you have mice problems). Keep in mind when you will be using the items you are placing in your closets. Put the ones that will be used later in the school year at the bottom of the stack or in the back of the closet. During the course of the next school year you will have to spend time reorganizing (really, just shifting boxes) so that you can get to the next series of items.

I also spend time looking at my books. I have a small bookcase just for me (my students, theoretically speaking, are not allowed to touch these books - I say theoretically because as the year progresses my students generally feel very comfortable touching many of my things, including my lunch). These are the books I save for special events or particular lessons. I have one shelf devoted to math books (i.e., One Hundred Hungry Ants for the hundredth day of school). Another shelf is for seasonal/holiday books. These books are organized according to event, so my Halloween books come after my apple-picking books but before my Thanksgiving books. You can create your own categories according to what you teach and your books.

This will also help you familiarize yourself with your books. You will start to make connections between texts and topics that didn’t occur to you before. You will be surprised how much this will help you. I know you probably don’t want to think about this now, but planning today will help take some of the stress out of next year.

 

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