As the end of the school year comes closer it is easy to forget that we can help our students, families, and ourselves in the future. It is overwhelming with all the end-of-school-year activities and celebrations to think about things for the summer or even the next year but do not worry I have done that thinking for you! Here are some tips for things you want to be sure you are doing to end the school year on a positive note!
Reflecting on the End of the School Year
Think about what worked and didn’t work in your classroom this past year. Perhaps a center you had dreamed up just didn’t keep the students engaged as you hoped. Maybe you found a great morning activity that you would love to continue into the next year. You possibly learned about a great way to communicate with parents that you want to implement next year. But you need some time or resources to put into place. All of this is perfect to start thinking about at the end of the year. Even if you don’t know where you will be teaching there are some strategies and ideas that lend themselves well to tons of types of teaching roles.
Information for Families for the End of the School Year
As teachers, we should also have a goal of communication and providing support to families. When it’s the end of the year we often think that we just need to say goodbye but there is so much more we could do to help!
Many times families are looking for ideas on what they can do with their children to help with the inconsistencies of summer. I’ve written a blog post just for parents with ideas for summer that you can also read! Some things I like to provide or help with are:
- Create example summer schedules or provide visuals to make them!
- Provide a list of fun activities in your town to do (field trip ideas, free opportunities, camps, etc.)
- Make a list of educational websites they can use.
- Provide materials to work on over the summer.
- Compile a list of life skills activities families can work on over the summer with step-by-step instructions. (like a task analysis).
Here is a fun summer set of Boom Cards! Sign up below!
Some of these ideas are more prep on your part to do than others but I have some things that can help you!
Schedules: Here is a visual schedule that I have available for purchase you can print and send it home with families!
Looking for no-prep activities to fill the summer hours? I love using worksheets that are easy to print and go! Here are a few I have:
Use Your Resources Carefully
Do you get reimbursed for the materials that you buy for your classroom? All the lamination, velcro, and dry-erase markers you might have spent your own money on. If so, it’s time to make sure that you have compiled all the receipts and you’ve been compensated. Not every district will do this, or they may only do it for a certain amount, but if you are lucky you should be sure to use it.
Do you get reimbursed for college classes or training you paid to attend? Make sure you are getting that information into your school’s business department. They will get you back the money you invested to grow professionally that you are owed. Check your teacher contract to see if this is something you can take advantage of.
Another great idea is if you get a budget for your classroom spend all that money. Don’t let the dollars you receive go to waste. Even if you use an idea you have for the next year to get supplies now.
Did you get gift cards from parents that showed you appreciation during the holidays or teacher appreciation week? You can look for ways to spend this money to better your classroom for next year. Whether it’s getting a new carpet for your morning meetings or buying new caddies for your supply stations.
End of School Year Paperwork is Done!
Special education teachers are constantly working on documents for their students. There are IEPs, FBAs, BIPs, NOREPs, Re-evaluations, and so much more! The last thing that you want to do at the end of the year is forgetting to complete a document. Another thing not to forget is to revise an IEP for the upcoming school year. It can cause stress on you next year, the new teachers the student may work with, the family, and the student also.
Sometimes, we have last-minute conversations with families who want to make a change to an IEP for the upcoming year. This could be based on moving to a new school, building, or program. Make sure that you have those documents ready to work for students to meet their needs before you pack your classroom up for the year.
Pack Up with Next Year in Mind
The daunting task of packing the classroom up can be so overwhelming for teachers. You spent all year getting the room to work for you, your paras, and your students. Then you have to take things down, put them away, and also remember where you put them when you come back in the fall.
In my first few years of teaching, I made a mistake. I would just throw anything in a box close by with no rhyme or reason. Then I would come back during the summer to unpack and hate myself. Yes, are we all on the struggle bus at the end of the year and just want to get things packed up quickly? Of course! But, the problem with that is you are setting yourself up for failure when you come back in the fall.
My suggestion is to try to keep like items together that you know are going to be used together in the next year. So I try to have tubs that either are based on like items OR that are for certain times of the school year. For example, I have a “back to school” tub where I keep copies of welcome letters, information cards, bulletin board pieces, and easy tasks for my students. It’s everything I use in the first month of school in one place that is easy to get to. Then when I come back it’s not so stressful to hunt down all the things I need.
Taking Care of Your Staff
It’s crucial to make sure you are showing the people that help you run your classroom some appreciation. It’s not always easy to buy gifts at the end of the year when things are crazy so I have a tip. Instead of looking then for what you need have it in the back of your mind all year. Every time you go to a store check out the clearance, gift, or school supply sections. Still, you can find some great deals on items that come in handy as gifts for paraprofessionals, co-teachers, or even student teachers!
Once I have those items I have a bin of gifts I keep in my teacher closet. It’s a milk crate with sticky notes, fun pens, thank you cards, word search books, small candles, and other stuff! I’m sure you can think of more things than I could, especially if you know what those people like. I often will have my staff complete a survey at the beginning of the year like this. It gives me an idea of what they like so I know what to look for as gifts!
Need some ideas? I have an ENTIRE amazon store with ideas of gifts for staff you might work with! Check it out now!
If you want to hear more on this topic be sure to check out my interview with Dawn from Cultivating Exceptional Minds. Her podcast, Be the Exception is where we chat all things getting ready for the summer as a teacher!