7 Ways to Get Ready for the New School Year Before You Leave for the Summer

The end of the school year is upon us friends. We are spending time wrapping up projects, participating in field day, and having all kinds of fun activities scheduled for our class. It's an amazing time of year, but it can also be the busiest. With everything else you have going on you may not even think about what the beginning of the next school year will look like. This can leave you feeling unprepared and like a chicken with its head cut off in September. Setting some time aside in May or June for new school year prep will be a game-changer for you! I have found that when I have some things already prepared and ready to go I feel more confident and ready for the first day, week, or even month of school. Here are 7 ways to get ready for the new school year before you leave for the summer. 

7 Ways to Prepare for the New School Year

1. A Special End Makes Room for a New Beginning

Use folders to help you organize your resources for the following school year before you leave for the summer

At the end of the school year I like to present my students with an Amazing Work Folder.  While I don't keep every single paper from each student, I do display some of their most successful work throughout the year.  By combining the student work display with the actual folder it makes a quick and easy end of the year keepsake.  Each student will take home a folder filled with writing samples, directed drawings, art and exceptional work.  These keepsakes remind them of all their hard work and just how far they've come in one year.

I use a manilla folders as the bases for the Amazing Work folders.  These folders are displayed in the classroom and throughout the year I added new "amazing work" to the display.  At the end of the year each student gets to take home their Amazing Work folder.  It's a keepsake that is loved by both students and parents. 

Once I have taken down the Amazing Work folders for the current year, I have the space ready to set-up for the next year.  I can put new manilla folders up and add a cover that says "Amazing Work Coming Soon!" I like to use the legal size folders so that there is a space at the bottom to add each student's name.  When the new students come into the room they are excited to see their names and know that their amazing work has a special place to be displayed.  

2. Declutter For Success

This might seem like a no-brainer, but finding time to clean out your cabinets is super important.  Starting the year without last year's clutter gives you a clean slate.  It is helpful to start the new school year by knowing where everything is in your room. This is something that can be done in stages and doesn't all have to be completed in one day. I can work on organizing one cabinet at a time when my students are at lunch, recess, or specials. I usually start organizing and decluttering my cabinets at the beginning of May. Not only does it make me feel great to get rid of things I haven't used, but it also helps me do a quick inventory of my supplies. Knowing exactly how much I have at the end of the year, will help me to plan purposefully when I put in my supply request for the following year. 

Declutter your room before you leave for the summer to help you prepare for the next school year.
Sometimes, I even turn decluttering into a fun activity for my students and a great end of the year classroom management system. Usually starting after spring break, students start to earn tokens or classroom money for our special end of the year auction.  

I sort through my "toss" pile for anything I think kids might be excited to take. This can literally be anything from sticky notes to old math manipulatives I haven't used in years. 

We designate an auction day for students to "bid" on the items in the auction pile. Students will use their collected tokens or classroom money for this exciting activity.  You will be amazed at the excitement students have and you will love knowing that it goes to a good home instead of the trash bin.

You can also pull names out of the jar to have students choose something from the pile or add the items directly to your treasure chest. 

And . . . as you are decluttering don't forget about the other teachers in your building.  Just because you no longer want to use it doesn't mean another teacher wouldn't love to have it.  If you know of any first year teachers that have been hired, consider adding things to a welcome basket to help them start their new career off with some supplies.

3. Lesson Plans To Start The Year Off Right

It may feel strange to start thinking about what lessons you are going to be doing in the fall when you haven't even finished May or June yet. Trust me though, you will thank yourself for putting together some lessons to get your students focused and ready to learn the first week or even the first month of school. 

Get your resources in order for next school year before you leave for the summer
Something I always plan out for the new school year before I leave for summer is how I'm going to help my first graders review what they learned in kinder in a meaningful and engaging way. The beginning of the year for most grades includes starting with a review.

I want to be sure I'm giving my kiddos some opportunities to review what they already know, to help them feel successful and ready to jump into their new first-grade learning. I pick and choose the perfect activities from my no prep language arts resource  and my daily number sense sets to put in a folder for the first few weeks of school. 

Skills I focus on at the beginning of the school year include:
  • Printing capital and lowercase letters
  • Common Nouns
  • Writing Numbers
  • Place Value & Number Sense
  • Hundred Chart Activities

These are just a few of the skills my students will be focusing on during the start of the new school year.  Not only does this help them ease back into school but it also gives me an idea of where we are starting.

It's also great to think about your go-to favorites for morning work or homework.  These can be copied and ready to go for the first month leaving you valuable time to work on other things. 

4. Print, Laminate, Cut

If you have been a teacher at the beginning of a school year, you know how insanely packed the teacher workroom will be the first few days before students arrive. You will be lucky to get everything you need printed let alone laminated. Don't waste precious time at the beginning of the year running back and forth from your classroom to the workroom every 5 minutes. Do your printing and laminating NOW! 

Print and laminate your resources before the end of the school year
You will be the envy of every teacher in your school when someone asks "Do you need the copier next?" and you can say, "Nope, I already have everything done." While you may feel like you don't have the time now, trust me, you will have even less the first few weeks of school. 

Remember those beginning of the year activities you pulled together in step 3?  Go copy them now so that they are done and ready to use.  Also, take time to think through other beginning of the year handouts or activities that you use every.single.year.  

Here's a few of the things I like to copy in advance:
  • Parent Information Sheets
  • Class Handbooks
  • Calendar pages for the communication folder
  • Student Readers
  • Any resources or activities you KNOW you will use again!

I also like to take a few minutes of my prep time to print out, cut, and laminate some resources for the classroom.  Sometimes an anchor chart needs to be reprinted or a center game needs new pieces.  Try to do those in advance.  If I already know the classroom theme or decor I will be using I like to get a jump start on those items as well.  I might not be able to do any items with names on them, but there are lots of other things that can be done.

This is by far the most helpful thing you can do for yourself to start your new year out feeling less stressed and ready to take on your new class.   If you do nothing else, do this!

5. Set-up Bulletin Boards

If you are able, put up your bulletin board for next year before you leave for summerSpending time putting up bulletin boards during those few precious days before your students arrive is not an ideal or an efficient way to spend your time.  You probably already know the type of bulletin boards you want for the beginning of the year.  So get them set-up and give yourself a head start.  If you aren't sure what you'd like to do, you can at a minimum add new paper backing or border to help you save time later.  Once you are done, cover them with an inexpensive plastic tablecloth from the dollar store to keep them from getting dusty or damaged during the summer.

Consider letting your students help you design a bulletin board.  Students could write letters or tips and advice to your new students.  Let the students draw a picture to match and create a bulletin board that will help kick-off the new year.  It will be loved by your new students and makes a great discussion starter for classroom procedures and rules.  And . . . it makes a great end of the year writing activity for your current students.  

If your school frowns upon putting up a bulletin board for the following year before your current students have left, you can still do some planning. If you are able, plan out your classroom bulletin boards starting sometime in early to mid-May. Think about the themes and supplies you will need to complete the bulletin boards. Gather as much of your supplies together as possible and paperclip them together, or put them in plastic baggies with labels. This will make the actual display process so much faster because everything will be right at your fingertips.

6. Reflection Time

The end of school is a great time to reflect on the year you have had. There are always going to be highs and lows. Identifying what you feel great about and what needs to be improved is the key to feeling like a confident teacher. Maybe there was a time this school year when you felt like things were a little more chaotic than normal. Take a minute to think about what you could have done differently to make things turn out better. 
Make a list of personal goals that are achievable and easy to stick to

When it's time for me to narrow down my goals, I take a look at my list of successes and areas that are in need of improvement. These aren't lesson plans or projects, but personal and professional goals; things I know I have direct control over because of what I say or do. I am also very careful to make purposeful goals I know I can realistically accomplish. 

Some ideas for teacher goals include:
  • Fun and successful classroom management system
  • Plan more hands-on activities for my class
  • Expand my student's learning with more virtual field trips, guest teachers, or outdoor adventures
  • Use my school time more efficiently so I don't take home as much work
  • Keep using some digital activities not that the students and I know just what to do

Once I have my goals, I have my focus area for my summer thinking and preparation.  After all, you might take the teacher out of the classroom but you can't make them stop thinking about school!  Instead of spending my summer getting sucked in by all the new ideas on Pinterest, I can be intentional with my summer time looking for things that will help me reach my goals.

Focus on goals you know you can achieve. Being realistic will lead to success and self-improvement.  I've found that by doing this at the end of the year when I'm #teachertired my goals are more realistic than when I wait til mid-summer when I'm rested, rejuvinated and ready to take on the world.  

7. A Few Of My Favorite Things

Take some time to reflect on your year to help you plan for the next school yearOne of my favorite things to do to help me prep for the new school year before I leave for summer is to take 15 minutes to reflect on my favorite activities, lessons, and projects for the year. Sometimes I remember to start this list in the fall and keep notes on my desk calendar each month. Most often, I don't remember until much later in the year, but that's okay.  You can also ask your students to help you list some of their favorite activities and memories from the year.

I use categories for my lists like:

  • Favorite Lesson Plans
  • Easiest Lesson Plans
  • Projects My Students Liked The Most
  • Projects With The Most Student Engagement
  • Projects Were Parents The Most Excited About

Making my lists by category really helps me to reflect with a purpose. This in turn helps me to decide which lessons from the year to keep, and which ones I should probably scrap. When I am ready to start planning my lessons or units for the year, it's really helpful for me to look back at this list for inspiration. 

Take the Time Now - You Won't Be Sorry!

Set yourself up for success by planning ahead and getting things ready for the new school year before you leave for the summer. The more you can do at the end of the year, the easier the beginning of the year will be for you. Share these tips and tricks with your teacher friends to help everyone start the year off feeling calm, confident and prepared. You can also pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so that you can come back when you are ready to start winding down your school year.

Be prepared for the new school year before you even leave for the summer

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