to End the Year While Planning for Next Year Allison
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.