Monday, June 3, 2013

Packing Up the Classroom {Ending The School Year Series: Post 2}

This is the 2nd of 5 posts with tips and ideas for packing up your classroom at the end of the school year. You can read the first post, Purging Before Packing, here. Today we are focused on Packing Up the Classroom. 
Packing up for the summer is one of those topics that I find varies greatly by school. I am fortunate that my classroom remains mostly intact. The summer cleaning crews do remove all the furniture to clean the rugs and floors so I usually move all non-furniture items up onto counters and shelves, but otherwise my stuff can stay put. However, I know many teachers that are required to pack EVERYTHING into boxes that are in storage for the summer. I have even encountered teachers that take it all home.
Therefore this post is a bit challenging to write since the requirements vary greatly by school and district. Hopefully, there is something for everyone...
  • Snap Photos: If you are happy with your classroom and intend to set it up the same way in the fall be sure to take pictures before you begin packing things up. Take them from all angles and include where items are placed on shelves. Make life even easier by keeping them on your phone so they are easily accessible when you come back to set up. Do this before you pack a single thing.
  • Use Clear Tubs for Take-Home Items: I always recommend packing the items you’ll be taking home for the summer (curriculum to use for lesson plans, personal items, etc) in clear, plastic tubs. It’s easy to see what you have.  They are sturdy. They can be reused. Most importantly, they are much better at keeping moisture away and protect the contents than boxes or open crates. This is important because although you pack it up with intention of getting lots done in the summer, these boxes often find their way into basements and garages and are forgotten until the fall. You want to be extra careful with distritct-owned materials.
  • Create a “Need Right Away Box”: Make the box easy to find by using bright paint or paper on it to stand out. Put in only those items you’ll need when you initially walk into your classroom to start setting up in the fall (staples and a stapler for bulletin boards, scissors, things you’ve bought to decorate the classroom, etc). You may want to include cleaning supplies in this box.
  • Create a “Personal Box”: Use it to house all of your photos, knick-knacks, etc. Put it somewhere safe and out of reach. 
  • Think About How Your Classroom Will Be Used: Will your room be left alone in the summer? Will another teacher be using it for summer school? Is it possible that people will have access to your things? This will determine how much you need to pack away. If you have anything of value you’ll want to find a place to secure it. If you are just concerned about others “borrowing” your things you can simply put them in a box and secure it with duct tape or tie it with string that would need to be cut to access. This will deter unwanted borrowing.
  • Take Inventory: Be aware of what you have and what you’ll need more of. I created a FREE resource a couple years ago for my blog readers and TPT store customers titled, The Ultimate Back-To-School Shopping List. Feel free to print it and keep it handy when packing so that you are prepared for the summer sales.
  • Keep Like Items Together: When you are trying to get your classroom set up for the new year you want to be efficient. Don’t make your future days more challenging by shoving things into random boxes now. Have a plan. Pack with unpacking in mind. 
  • Label / Color Code Your Boxes: When my family moved to our current home, I purchased colored packing tape that was labeled with the words designating their destination (bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, etc). Awesome invention! Use colored tape, paper or paint to mark your boxes. This is especially important if you are moving classrooms or schools. 
  • Number Your Boxes: Record a number onto each box and quickly jot down the contents. I recommend using a computer or notes on a tablet or phone so it can be backed up. This will make it easier to prioritize your unpacking.
  • Keep Distrcit-Owned Materials in One Location: In the unlikely event that something prevents you from returning to the classroom in the fall (unexpected illness or accident, spousal job transfer, last minute school/classroom change), it will be helpful to have everything that belongs to the school separated from your own materials. This is especially important if you are one of those teachers who needs to pack EVERYTHING before leaving.

To get more ideas I reached out to other teachers through the Clutter-Free Classroom Facebook fan page.  I’ll be featuring their fabulous ideas at the end of the series. You read them over at the FB page today or wait and see them on here on Thursday.
Do you have additional tips or advice to offer? Leave a comment here or respond to yesterday’s question of the day over at the CFC Facebook Page.
Also, be sure to check out my #1 selling product: The Clutter-Free Guide to Organizing and Managing Your Classroom. It's chock full of pictures and ideas to get you and your learning environment in order.

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