This is a true sanity saver! When you finish up your Fountas & Pinnell (F&P), DRA, DIBELS, or whatever other assessments you use go ahead and do yourself a favor and make your copies for next year. Nothing is worse than feeling prepped for back to school, then sitting down for your first F&P assessment only to find you don’t have any copies of the Level D Fiction book in your folder – btw its The Nice Little House (that skunk is pretty smart if you ask me).
I recommend doing this twice during the end of year season.First, take pictures of your classroom setup BEFORE you start taking things down and putting things in storage. This will help a TON when you go back next August to set your classroom up because you can look at the pictures and remember exactly where everything goes. And, if you’re like me, you can look at them over the summer when you’re trying to figure out what you want to change next year.Then, take pictures AFTER you have stored everything. These are super important for keeping an “inventory” of your items. If your school, or even your classroom, are used for any summer school or activities you will thank yourself for having these pictures in case anything grows a pair of legs and walks off.
There are so many people that work hard to make a school function. Admin, teachers, custodians, maintenance crew, the list can go on. How often do you thank these people for all of the work they put into making your school function correctly? Take a moment to have your kids (and yourself) write a thank you note to them!
Have you struck it rich as a teacher yet? No? Me neither.
A great way to get your kids a small end of the year gift without breaking the bank is to save your Scholastic points throughout the year from book orders. If you don’t use Scholastic book orders in your class, do yourself a HUGE favor and sign up [here] immediately!
Every year I gift my students The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. The message of the story is one that is so powerful I feel every child should hear it. And thanks to Scholastic, I gift it for FREE!
If you don’t have a class copy, again I highly recommend this book!
I personally think books make the best gifts. I’ve given trinkets in the past, but love the meaning behind a book. However, give what works best for you and your kids!
5. Pin some ideas for next year.
Many teachers need to shut their brains off from teaching when summer break hits. Take that time. Whether its a few days, weeks, or months – you know what you need. Before you head out for summer break spend a little time on [Pinterest] saving some ideas for next year. One of my favorite things is finding new ways to revamp stale routines, strategies, or ideas and add in new best practices. Pinterest is a gold mine for these types of ideas. Here are a few of my favorite boards you can snag some ideas from.
Let’s face it. We start the year with perfectly manicured classrooms, everything is in order and CLEAN. Add 20 children and fast forward 180 days. How’s that room looking now? More importantly, how clean is that room? I’ll be the first to say that despite great intentions, as the year goes on things become disheveled – and often dirty.Take some time to clean before heading out to summer break. You will thank yourself when you come back in August. Want a little bonus tip? Have your kids help!You can fill large containers/bins with warm, soapy water and dump toys, manipulative, whatever else that needs cleaning into it. Let the kids go to town “playing” in the water. They LOVE it! We’ll just keep the fact that they’re actually helping us clean a little secret.
If you have one of those classes that is well-behaved all the time, even at the and of the year – I hate you. Ok… I didn’t mean that. However, I am jealous.For the rest of us who have kiddos that seem to “forget” how to be in school, here’s a tip for you. Every year I have taught I have used an end of the year countdown as a behavior incentive. Each day we pop a balloon and earn the reward inside. Yes, I said earn. The kiddos don’t always get the incentive if behavior is not on point. You can read more about how I set up my countdown [here].
This ties directly into the behavior management that I mentioned above. If your kids aren’t engaged, especially at the end of the year, kiss your classroom management strategies goodbye. Nothing is worse than a group of kids who are flat out bored.One thing that I did this year to keep kids engaged until the last day was an animal PBL unit. The kids picked an animal to become experts on during our animal unit. During the last week or so of school the kids spent a ton of time building a virtual zoo exhibit on Book Creator, then actually building an exhibit. Students voice and student choice for the win! More to come on that unit later!
Take even a few minutes to think about what went well this year, what could be better, what you will keep, and what needs to go. Jot a few notes down somewhere that you can refer back to them (even if that’s in August). And don’t forget – be honest. This is a time to grow and become a better educator.
My reflection of the year can be found [here].
If I can ask you to do one thing during the end of the year, its this… Please, please, please don’t resort to just showing the kids movies. It break my heart when I see teachers posting that movies are all they are doing the last few days. Yes you’re tired, yes the kids are tired, yes you probably have 0 patience and energy left.But, dig deep.Figure out what you can do to have fun with your kids and “be in the moment.” Enjoy your last bit of time with your kids, hug them goodbye on the last day, and collapse in a heap on the floor.
It’s summer break!