As we prepare for summer vacation, many teachers will spend hours cleaning out file cabinets, going through supplies, disassembling bulletin boards, and preparing their classrooms for summer storage. While most of us are focused on making it to the last day of our contracts so that we can turn-in our keys and start our long-awaited summer vacation, the most resourceful teachers will use this time to get a head start on preparing for next school year. Now, I know what you’re thinking—Shametria, I’m ready to wave goodbye to this school year and watch it fade away in my rearview mirror. I get it. I totally understand, but now is a great time to complete some of the tasks that we never have time for when we return in August—even with the best of intentions. With this in mind, I want to share eight ways you can get a jump start on next school year.
1. Color and Decorate Black and White Station Games and Materials
I love color and like for my math games to be in full color, but I don’t always have the extra money to buy colored games. During the last few days, I pull out my black-and-white math games and I have my students color/decorate them for me. The students love to color with markers (they don’t get to use them very often in class) and help out around the classroom.
2. Organize New Station Materials into Plastic Bags
I often have a growing pile of new station activity materials that I threw in the file cabinet throughout the year for easy storage and access. During the last days of the year, I take this pile of games and task cards, laminate them, and organize them in my math station storage area. In addition, if the games/task cards have small parts, I use large Hefty school bags to store and label the activities so that they are ready for next school year.
3. Organize, Store, and Label Manipulatives
With the students’ help, I use the last few days of school to reassemble student sets of manipulatives, like the numbered tiles for the tiling tasks, and reorganize them into their labeled tubs and plastic shoeboxes. If I bought any new materials during the school year, I create a storage space and label for them as well.
4. Inventory School Supplies
Like many other teachers, I always buy a lot of school supplies during the back-to-school sales. Before I leave for summer, I count the remaining items like my specially-colored folders, spirals, and composition notebooks, so that I know what I need to buy in order to have enough of each color for the next school year.
5. Prepare Activities and Materials for the First Week of School
Raise your hand if you are restricted to how many copies you can make each year? Me too! Since I typically have copies left during the last month, I use my remaining copies or copy center budget to prep some of the materials that I need for the first week of school and for those first introductory parent events.
6. Create a Substitute Box
At the end of the school year, I always have several stacks of papers that I did not use during the year (I always copy more than I need for each week just in case I need an extra assignment or two). I take some of these stacks and place them in my sub box for next school year in case I schedule a last-minute sub and don’t have time to make formal plans or if the same happens to a teammate and we need to help out.
7. Refill My Puzzle Box and Enrichment Station
At the same time that I am using up my copies, I replenish my puzzle box and prep it for next school year. I also begin gathering materials for the first math menu so that after it is introduced to the students, the materials are ready to go.
8. Decide On My Focus for the New Year
As part of my own professional development, I always decided on my new focus at the end of the school year. This gives me an opportunity to pack a box of books and materials that I want to take home and review over the summer in order to hit the ground running when I return in August. In addition, after I attend summer PD and get new ideas related to my new focus, I will have the books and materials I need to start planning.
We all know how busy and stressful August can be, so in the spirit of working smarter and not harder, I encourage you to use the time, and the helping hands, that you have in these last days to get a jump start on next year.
Sound Off! How do you begin preparing for next school year? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.