15 End-of-the-Year Teacher Hacks To Do Now to Make Back to School a Breeze

15 End-of-the-Year Teacher Hacks To Do Now to Make Back to School a Breeze

If a normal school year is a marathon, the 2020-21 school year has been a grueling ultra-marathon. And look, I know how I feel by this point in the race. No amount of electrolytes are going to revive me this close to the finish line. We may have to crawl across it, but the end is in sight.

So trust me, I know how crazy it sounds to suggest that you do even one more solitary thing before racing kids to the parking lot on the last day of school. Right now, my dreams are filled with the smell of sunscreen, bathroom breaks anytime I need them, and no Zoom meetings for 10 blessed weeks.

But I’m going to do it anyway. I’m going to suggest you do these 15 things now, while we’re still chugging away toward that finish line. These 15 simple tasks, if done now before you leave for summer, are guaranteed to make your return to school in the fall much more streamlined. And let’s face it, we all have some spare moments somewhere tucked into our contract hours to check off these housekeeping items. Sneak them in while your students are finishing year-end projects or taking final exams, or during prep time when you simply cannot grade even one more term paper.

1. Write down your passwords so you don’t forget

The long, lazy days of summer make it all too easy to forget about our work lives. It’s easy to tell yourself you’ll remember your passwords when you return to school in September, but will you really? Write them down and keep them somewhere safe.

2. Set up an out-of-office email reply

Certainly no one expects you to check your work email daily or even weekly, but in case someone does try to get ahold of you, it is prudent to set up an out-of-office automatic email reply so that folks know you aren’t checking your email as regularly as you do during the school year.

3. Check your printer toner levels

Nothing is worse than returning to school in the fall, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to print your syllabus, only to discover that your printer is out of ink. Turn in those supply orders now so that you have fresh ink ready to go in August.

4. Clean out student papers and send them home

Hand back student projects, tests, essays, and other homework papers. You get to clean out your room, and students get to share their work with friends and family at home. Everybody wins.

5. Take posters off your walls

Take a quick look around your room and check to see if any of the wall art is looking a little tired. Now is the time to clear off bulletin boards, take posters off your walls, and take down your classroom door display.

6. File originals, recycle copies

If you’re like me, you never file anything but rather have an ever-growing stack of papers that you will file “one day.” By May, my paper stack looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Take the time to sort through these papers, filing the ones you want to keep and recycling the rest.

7. Take home classroom snack stash

A good rule of thumb is to take home any food lingering in your desk drawers or the staff room fridge. Your emergency classroom chocolate stash can easily become your emergency “my kids are driving me crazy” stash.

8. Tend to your plants

Do you plan on bringing your plants home or leaving them in your classroom? If they are remaining in your room, who will water them? Consider talking with the school’s custodial staff or invest in a self-watering device for your plants.

9. Set goals for 2021-22 school year

Each fall, you have to set those SMART goals. Get a head start by spending some time reflecting on this school year. What went well and what areas do you see as room for improvement? Jot some notes to yourself about goals while this year’s triumphs and defeats are fresh on your mind.

10. Take inventory of supplies so you know what to buy when back-to-school sales hit

How many glue sticks do you have? Do you need pens or pencils? Is your pencil sharpener in tip-top shape? Make a list of supplies you need, save it on your phone, and then shop with confidence when back-to-school sales start right after the Fourth of July.

11. Check markers and glue sticks

While you’re at it, check those glue sticks, markers, and paint bottles. Throw away anything that’s empty or dried up.

12. Shred papers

Some papers can’t just be recycled due to their confidential nature. Make a stack of old IEPs, referral carbon copies, and anything else you don’t need any longer. Take a trip to the school’s shredder and cross this nagging task off your list.

13. Get a head start on letters of recommendation

Each fall, I get inundated with requests for letters of recommendation, but honestly, I know which students want a letter well before they ask for one. Knock a few of these out now when you can do one or two at a time instead of dozens.

14. Collect student samples

Ask students who produced particularly exemplary work if you can keep their projects and papers as examples for future classes. You’ll want these next year when your new students are working on them.

15. Take important personal items home with you

We all know things get moved around, jostled, broken, or sometimes go missing entirely during the summer. Take a quick inventory of your special personal items and bring them home so they are safe and sound when it’s time to return.

While it may take one final push to cross off these end-of-the-year tasks, you’ll walk out that door on the last day of school with a spring in your step knowing that you are already one step ahead of the game when the fall rolls back around.

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15 End-of-the-Year Teacher Hacks To Do Now to Make Back to School a Breeze

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Veteran Legend

I am an unrepentant lover of words - and lucky me, I spend all day, every day immersed in them. When I'm not teaching, I'm reading. Or writing. Or teaching eager (and sometimes not-so-eager) adolescents about the power of the written word. I live on the scenic Oregon Coast with my dog, two cats, and five-year-old son.

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