Packing up your classroom at the end of the year can be a daunting task. Teachers are tired and end of year classroom organization has probably long since gone by the wayside. Over the years I’ve learned how to make packing up a lot less stressful, and with a little planning, save a lot of time and headache when setting up the next year. These 10 tips for packing up your classroom will make setting up next year a snap!
Now, I’m just going to warn you that these pictures aren’t exactly pretty. There is nothing at all visually stunning about packing up your classroom. In fact, it usually looks like a tornado came through for most of the time. And while I love all of the possibility a new year brings, I’m usually more than a little sad to break down the space where I’ve taught, encouraged, and nurtured my class for a whole entire year. It breaks my heart a little to go from this,
to this, in a matter of hours.
That feeling is fairly fleeting though, when I remember that I can soon sleep later, relax, and recharge all summer. Try these tips when you pack up this year so you can relax knowing that set up next year will be a lot easier.
1. Pack Up Your Classroom In Zones
To keep your classroom organization from going out the window while you’re packing, place large storage tubs in all 4 corners of your classroom. I use additional tubs for my reading table area and another in front for my desk area. Be sure to label the tubs so you know what’s inside.
2. Clean As You Go
Whether packing it in a bin or in a cupboard, wipe down everything before putting it away. That way it’s ready to use or put out during set up and you’re not spending time cleaning the small things when you report back. You’ll have summer dust on the big things and enough to do already.
3. Pack As Much As You Can Intact
When packing up my classroom, I keep as much as possible completely intact. In other words, pack the pencil cans full of sharpened pencils (I have students sharpen them.), stacking trays with papers we use daily or weekly, baskets of supplies, etc. all into the tubs clean and as is. That way all you have to do is place them where they go when you set up next year. It takes a few extra tubs to do this, but it’s worth it.
I stack all of my book bins and baskets then place them inside bookshelves.
4. Organize Ahead of Time
Try to come in for a day over Spring Break to organize a few things so you don’t have to do it at the end. During Spring Break I organize centers and put away piles. I might clean out my desk drawers and recycle extra copies. The last 9 weeks fly by and with all of your other end of year duties, you don’t want to have to organize your filing cabinet and centers on top of everything else.
5. Get Ahead On Your Copies
Around the middle of May, it’s smart to have parent volunteers start making copies for the coming year. The line for the copier gets crazy once you report back so I like to get what I can copied ahead of time.
I copy any dailies and weeklies for the year before I leave for the summer. Things like spelling lists, weekly fluency passages for homework, poetry center poems, journal labels, and blank fluency and data graphs.
Our students have behavior charts in their homework folders so I fill in the new dates on those and copy them as well.
We write weekly Friday letters to parents so a year’s worth of stationary for those gets copied, too. All of this gets stored in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet to make it easy to pull as I plan each week.
6. Pull and Prep Your Meet the Teacher Files
Pull what you’ll need to manage Back to School Night when students come in to meet their teacher. Of course I don’t set it up, but I locate what I use and put it in a bin that goes last into the cupboard when I pack. I also pull parent forms and procedure signs for Meet the Teacher Night. I copy all of my forms, welcome letter, supply list and student info sheets before I leave for the summer. The supply list can change each year depending on donations I may have received or the rare, but occasional, leftover supplies from the previous year.
Making our daily schedule with specials, and a few other things, I save for after I report back. Make it your goal to get the bulk of it is done before you leave for the summer.
By doing so, all I have to do is pull out my parent procedure signs, lay out the copies and some baskets to collect them, and boom. Done.
7. Pull What You Need For the First Week of School
Every teacher has favorite back to school activities, books, and getting to know you games they like to do at the beginning of the year. I pull everything I use the first week of school and place it in my “Week 1” tub. The tub gets packed last in the cupboard so it’s right up front.
In order to avoid the crazy copy line once everyone starts planning, I copy what I need for the first week of school ahead of time. Add these to the other items you copy before you leave for the summer. You can always add to it with any new ideas you come up with over the summer.
8. Take Pictures
Taking pictures of each wall of your classroom is a real time-saver. I’ve wasted a lot of time in the past trying to remember how I got everything on my math wall to fit or where exactly I started the number line or alphabet line so it would fit in the space I had. It’s especially helpful if your school requires you to take down every last thing off of the walls. I also HIGHLY recommend getting a picture of your center rotations board so you don’t have to reinvent that next year.
9. Bag Bulletin Board Parts Together
As you pack up your classroom and take down bulletin boards, use gallon zip lock bags to store all of the pieces together. If you’re lucky enough to be able to leave up your bulletin boards, hurray! That gives you time to organize somewhere else.
Packing bulletin boards together has saved me a lot of time, especially since all the border trim is already cut to size. That, along with the pictures taken before packing, makes putting it all up next year a breeze! I wrote a post with some great tips for putting up back to school bulletin boards, so be sure to check that out too!
10. What You Need First, Goes In Last
I carefully lay all of my classroom decor, wall charts and other items that hang on my whiteboard, on top in the tub for that zone.
In the bottom of the tubs are the stacking trays, pencils and baskets of community supplies that belong in that area. That way I can pull decorations out first and get them hung quickly. Supply baskets are already intact so they go inside a double desk to serve as drawers.
It’s a good idea to pack your cupboards that way too. Important papers, first week copies, bulletin board trim, and anything else you’ll need right away, gets packed in last so it can come out first.
Resist the urge to cram! Oh, we’ve all been there. That point at which you are so tired and overwhelmed you start shoving things into any place they’ll fit. I promise you’ll thank yourself next year.
10. Small Things Students Can Do
Many principals don’t allow teachers to enlist their students to help pack up the classroom. There are, however, some little things that students can do to take care of community items and get them ready for next year’s class to use.
I have my students each clean their own whiteboards and wipe out the inside of their desks with Lysol wipes. They also take turns sharpening new pencils and labeling folders.
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It’s easy to prep class sets of data and homework folders by passing out new folders to each student. I ask them to glue a label to the front of each folder. (Stock up on folders during the summer back to school sales.) All of this takes less than 5 minutes and saves me a lot of time. I also have my students each write a note to next year’s class and place it inside the folders. Those are always a lot of fun to read!
Does all of this sound like a lot? Download this FREE end of the year checklist to help you get started.
Need more end of the year help?
- If you’re looking for fun things to do with your students the last week of school, you’ll find lots of ideas in this post.
- See how I make movie day educational and grab the free movie day resources while you’re there!
- Planning in the back of your head for how you’ll change things around next year? Take my classroom tour.
- Check out time-saving tips for putting up back to school bulletin boards in Beating the Bulletin Board Blues.
- Get help here for Managing Meet the Teacher Night.
- Already thinking about your first week with students? You’ll love these fresh ideas for a full and FUN first week of school!
I hope you’ve found some helpful ideas for organizing and packing up your classroom to make setting up next year a snap! If you like these ideas, why not pin them for next year and share with your teacher friends?
Happy packing, friends, and enjoy your summer!