End of Year Cleaning

The school year is wrapping up, and it’s time to start thinking about that end of year cleaning checklist. Those of you who work in schools, how do you handle this? Do you have a routine? Do you involve students? It can be a bit overwhelming some years.

I don’t know of many jobs where you have to pack up your entire office and work area on a  yearly basis other than teaching. I am glad for it though, because it provides an annual opportunity to reevaluate materials and setup. It’s a scheduled time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t, what was useful and what is just taking up space.

For me, it’s also a time to plan for next year. We have to have our classroom furniture setup taped to our board before we leave for the summer, so our generous custodial staff can arrange it for us when they return things to the room after clearing it out to clean. I cannot say how grateful I am to them for doing this. This is the only school I’ve heard of where they don’t just dump everything in the room and leave it to the teacher to arrange upon our return. It is a huge blessing! It does mean I have to have my layout planned several months in advance of the new year though, and once I get started with planning one aspect I just keep going…

I like to involve my students in cleaning on the very last day. I’m not going to get any productive, academic work out of them, but it’s still important they have structured tasks to do. I think it also helps students develop a sense of pride in their classroom and responsibility towards the classroom community, especially since two-thirds of my students will return to my room next year. They get to see their handiwork and feel pride in preparing the room for the incoming sixth grades.

This year I stumbled upon a cool idea for end of the year cleaning task cards for students over here at Chalk and Apples TpT store, and I decided to develop a similar idea. My students already have classroom jobs through the year, and we use a classroom economy. However, there are always a couple students who end the year in debt, and I’ve never really known what to do about this. I don’t want to roll the debt ever into the next year, because I like everyone to start on a fresh, positive note. There’s no practical consequence though, so this year I thought I would have students work off the debt by helping with end of year packing and cleaning. They were going to earn so much debt cancellation for different chores that needed doing. That didn’t work out very well, because all my students wanted to help clean, even though I gave the debt free students the option of free computer or phone time. So, while this activity failed to be a consequence for ending the year with debt, it was a very successful and helpful method for structuring the end of year clean up and organizing all the tasks students could help with.

Anyway this is what I came up with:

eoy job mat

What do you think? You can download your own copy here at my TpT store. I laminated it and had students check off each task as they finished. Student favorites were the bulletin board and the supply closet. I actually had 2  students working together on the closet with my assistance. They really liked organizing everything and deciding where our supplies for next year would go. I also let them take home anything I didn’t want anymore.

I decided to go crayon free for next year. My middle school students have decided crayons are too young, and they haven’t been touched in my room for two years. I let my pencil sharpener take home as many as he wanted and then had him create bags of crayons for students to take home and give to younger siblings.

So, what do you do on the last day of school? Do you involve your students in cleaning and packing? If so what tasks do you have them do? Is there anything you would add or remove from my menu board?

Our First Week Back!

Wow! It has been a fantastic first week of school here! I have never had a year begin so smoothly. Hopefully, this a good omen of the months to come.

We started our week on Tuesday since Monday was Meet the Teachers day. One of our parents was kind enough to mention that “You know your child’s teacher is in the right place when Meet the Teacher is more of a family reunion, and the kids are actually excited to start back to school.” I was so happy to hear her view the day that way; although I do have a bit of an advantage since I keep my students for 3 years in a row.

Tuesday started with a rush of FM equipment assignments. How do you manage your hearing equipment monitoring and organization? I have 13 students in my school who use FM equipment in addition to their hearing aids and/or cochlear implants. 12 of them keep their equipment in my room, and that’s a lot of chargers, wires, transmitters, and individually programmed receivers to keep sorted. It took a bit of practice, but I think I have gotten my students trained to the system of coming a few minutes early to school, going directly to my classroom, putting on and syncing their own receivers, providing an adult with the transmitter to do the Ling 6 sound check, and then marking their monitor documents themselves with the correct annotation to note if the equipment is working or if there was a problem. Then, at the end of the day, the students leave their class a few minutes early to return the equipment to my room and hook everything up to the chargers labeled with their initials. It is a smooth system that has worked for me the last 3 years. I will give more detail about this in a later post if there is interest. Do you do something different? I would love to hear about it?

In my self-contained classroom, all my kids were returning students, so I kept all my classroom routines and rules either the same or pretty similar. This made reviewing the procedures quick and easy. I addressed changes as the need arose so as not overwhelm any students. They were more receptive than I expected since some of my students with OHI (OCD) or ASD are typically highly resistant to changes in procedures.  There were really very few classroom changes though.

I started right in on academics on Wednesday.In 8th grade science, our unit is “Our Changing Earth: Structures and Processes.” We are learning about the layers of the Earth, plate tectonics, and continental drift for the next two weeks. 7th grade is doing a chemistry unit, but in my room, we will only be studying the 4 states of matter and then the difference between homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures. The rest of it a bit too abstract, and won’t have much real life application for the students chosen career categories. Social Studies is U.S. History with a focus on South Carolina, so we are starting with a unit on Native Americans. I’m doing a cross-curricular unit with that and ELA, since the ELA unit is myths with a theme of cultural identity. In math, we started with a unit on 3D shapes to begin our geometry focus.

The students were great all week. They did well getting to their inclusions classes on time and finding their way around the school. Most of them have at least one core class in the general education environment, and they are doing well keeping up this first week and advocating for their accommodations. Altogether, they have done really well, and I hope it continues.

How was your first week? If you haven’t started school yet, what are you doing to prepare?