As much as teachers may want to head straight out the exit door on the last day of school, additional time spent on closing out your classroom is a must. Most, if not all teachers go through this year after year. We try our best to keep well organized throughout the entire school year, and yet all of our art supplies and peripheral materials end up everywhere. Here are some end of the year organization tips to help you leave for the summer prepared for the fall ahead.
Give it all a good scrub.
Clean those caps! Wash out and scrub those paint containers. Tube caps, and glue bottle caps should be cleaned and organized. All like materials need to be gathered, housed, and stored. Essentially, the clutter needs to be addressed. Throw out anything that’s either being replaced or has worn out.
Quick tip: as you throw out any items, keep a list of what you’re throwing out, the brand/color/item number, and how many. This way, you’ll know exactly what needs to be replenished or replaced.
Also, start to think ahead now. Keeping art supplies, and everything else for that matter, organized inside the classroom begins with setting up well defined usage and storage procedures at the beginning of the school year. While this may take additional up-front time, clearly communicated procedures will be your best friend when it’s time to close shop. Once you get everything cleaned up, think about writing out a procedures list for using materials that you can share with students at the beginning of the fall. By doing this, overall clutter is kept to a minimum and classroom clean-up shouldn’t pose a major hassle.
Embrace Storage Containers
I have learned to embrace the bin, the crate, and the container of any size. These storage units have become a saving-grace for me when it’s time to organize. For art supplies, there is no better way to manage and organize all of the miscellaneous objects with their frequent oddball sizes.
Teachers already spend a lot of personal out-of-pocket money on everything from bulletin boards to lesson plans. Purchasing bins for managed storage can quickly become very expensive. The good news is that you don’t always need to purchase expensive plastic bins for your storage needs. While at home, take a look around for potential school storage units. They’re everywhere! Think about the consumable products used at home on a daily basis. Cereal boxes, or cardboard boxes from home mail order delivery can become useful storage units that don’t cost additional money.
There are so many potential storage containers around us and we often just throw them away. Using typically disposed of containers as classroom storage units is also a great way to help relieve our overflowing landfills and help the environment as well.
If you find that a particular storage bin is handy, ask for storage donations from your students and parents. Cardboard boxes of all sizes are great! While your request may result in more than you need, at least you will able to pick and chose.
At this crunch time of the year, teachers really need to be creative with schedules so that we can alleviate additional legwork. Assign students to particular tasks wherever possible. Many students love to help out and organize. This is also a good way to help students understand that we are all part of a community and we all have responsibility for the items we use.
Make Organization Simple
A simple checklist always comes in handy! Try this free one for spring cleaning your classroom.
You can modify the checklist to your needs and then use it to help you stay on organizational track as the school year comes to a close. This checklist may even become the catalyst for you to create your own checklist that is completely tailored to your needs. The point is, to get and stay organized while maintaining sanity working with everything that the end of a school year brings.
In a nutshell:
- Gather as many ‘free’ containers and bins to house your materials
- Assemble all of your supplies in one place, clean and organized
- Be sure to clean all supplies before storage
- Solicit student help
- Use a checklist to keep on track
- Feel confident in your organization process
Teachers are doers and our school day is driven by the bell schedule. We want to get things done. We like to accomplish tasks. The checklist helps me because I like to can cross things off my list and monitor my own progress! Sound familiar? It’s simply what we do. Time to allow ourselves access to the same tools we tout and provide for our students.
Dolph holds a Bachelors of Science, Product Design from Art Center College of Design and a Masters degree in Education. Dolph has spent most of his teaching career as a 6th grade teacher in the elementary school setting with a focus on Gifted and Talented Education, and is currently teaching 4th grade in Fullerton, California He is married and is the father of Bonnie and Clyde, Golden Retriever littermates, one cat and two American Quarter horses.