8 Tips for Surviving the End of the School Year (Free Printable Checklist)
The end of the school year is tough. No need to sugar coat it. Teachers and students alike seem to experience a mass mindset shift toward summer and everything both speeds up and slows down at the same time. Each day seems to drag on, while there doesn’t seem to be enough time left in the school year to get everything done. Can you relate?
To help ease some of that end of the school year stress we have compiled some helpful tips and a printable end-of-the-school-year checklist to help your last days of the school year go as smooth as possible.
1. Keep your routines the same
The end of the school year can get chaotic. There always seems to be an uptick in assemblies and field trips that throw everyone’s schedule off whack. Assessments need to be completed and rooms need to be packed up, but the more you can keep your routine the same the better your last days in the classroom will be.
You see, throwing everything out the window, having free days, or “fluff activities” are very clear signals to your students that school’s almost over. Once that signal is received keeping a class on track becomes substantially more difficult. Undesirable behaviors increase while focus decreases drastically. So do yourself and your students a favor and keep routines in place as much as possible.
2. Don’t pack up too soon
Again, just like with changing your classroom routines in those last days, a physical change in the environment is an unspoken signal to your students to throw in the towel. Sitting in a room with bare walls and boxes is both uninspiring and uninviting. Your space says a lot to your students (I have a whole post on classroom design here). By saving the packing and clean up for the last day or two then you are communicating to your students that your expectations are still intact and their responsibilities to be present are too.
3. Make a map
Before it all gets packed up, take a good look around. Sit down with a piece of paper (or use your computer, I’ve even used Microsoft Word before with simple shapes representing furniture) and map out your room. This will help you reset your room in the fall, even if you are planning on changing things up, and you can leave a copy for your custodians to help them understand the room concept. This can be a big timesaver when your back-to-school days are filled with meetings and you have little time to reassemble the jumble that once was your classroom. Also taking a copy home with you can give you’re a spatial representation to ponder any changes or the arrangement for next school year.
4. Save your planner
Whether you have a physical planner (yes, I am that person) or a digital one, SAVE IT. Your planner is one of THE most valuable tools you have when it comes to preparing for the next year. Within its coffee stained, scribbled, highlighted pages you will find how long projects ACTUALLY took, revisions you need to make, the dates of testing, field trips, assemblies that you will need to plan for in the future. One of the best (and sometimes worst) things about teaching is that it’s all cyclical (in fact I have a whole article about that right here). So hold on to those old planners as they can become your holy grail as move into the next school year.
5. Pack a bag
Thoughtful gather what you need for the summer. Include that map of the room you just drew. Your old planner with notes and reflections of lesson gone by, any book study or professional books you plan to peruse poolside (might I suggest the Joy in Teaching books?), hard copies of lessons or reports you want to rework, and not much else.
I once was the teacher who took totes and boxes back and forth with me each year with the intent of overhauling my curriculum each summer. Then when I couldn’t find time to focus on them the way I wanted to – they haunted me. Knowing that I had unfinished work to do would dampen my summer and cause me to start the next school year regretful. Instead just take what NEEDS to come home, and what you will need access to when you start back up- leave the rest at school.
Seriously, the end of the school year is a whirlwind. Along with the added responsibility of packing everything up (I mean, imagine most other professionals having to box up all their work every single year – it’s a lot), there are extra meetings, and often extra duties, and school events. It’s important to take it in stride so you don’t finish the end of the year a ball of stress. Enjoy your students, you are about to say good bye to them. Share stories with your classes and colleagues, celebrate another school year nearly complete and try to be “in the moment” instead of racing to the finish line (you’ll be there in no time).
7. Keep the activities coming
Now, there’s a huge difference between “busy work” and meaningful activities and your students can tell the difference, trust me. Throwing in a movie, doing coloring sheets, or a project that doesn’t connect with anything you have been doing is a clear message that expectations and learning are over. You don’t have to maintain the same rigor as a few months ago, but you do have to connect the activities for your students so they don’t feel as if they are just being kept busy with fluff. Try approaching a subject they have been learning through a different subject. Curricular integration shows students that their lessons don’t exist in a bubble and give them a new way of approaching their knowledge. There are a lot of STEAM/makerspace challenges that are very interactive and engaging that students can connect to during those last few days. Or try collaborative team-based project to end the school year with a sense of unity.
8. Complete the checklist
Yes, you have items you need to do for your school, required steps from your administrator, but you also have steps you want to take to feel completed. Steps needed, like staying connected with colleagues and saying your goodbyes to your students. So keep track of all the moving pieces in closing up a classroom like covering electronics and organizing supplies along with all the humanness of ending a school year the right way with this FREE downloadable end of the year checklist.