Countdown to the Last Day of School! A Teacher’s Checklist

May 1, 2023

As the school year ends, teachers look forward to a well-deserved break. But first, they have to survive the hectic year-end period with its report cards, assemblies, and parties. Closing the year also means cleaning and packing up the classroom.

This article provides a comprehensive checklist to help you keep everything on track.

1. Clean the Class With Students

Engage your students in year-end classroom cleanup by having them sort and box supplies or clear the clutter from their desks. Even young students can wipe down tables and desks.

Show your class what you’d like them to do, and provide them with cleaning supplies. Consider cleaning essentials like disinfecting wipes, trash bags, and paper towels.

Cleanup tasks for students might include:

  • Organizing classroom books in bins
  • Wiping down furniture, cabinets, and shelves
  • Cleaning out desks and recycling paper
  • Sorting markers and pencils by color

2. Label and Organize Important Files and Document

A good packing technique shortens the time it takes to pack now and unpack later. Take photos of your classroom before removing displays. Next fall, when it’s time to decorate, you’ll be glad you did.

When putting things away, the first things you’ll use should be the last things put in the cabinet or bin. That way, they’ll be easier to find when you set up your class.

A good labeling system makes unpacking easy. Label the outside of storage bins and each container and file organizer. You can have your label maker ready and stocked with label maker tape and batteries.

When possible, pack supplies in their holder. If you keep worksheets on stacking trays, store the trays with the sheets in place. Put the pencil cups away, filled with sharpened pencils.

Consider making copies of handouts now that you’ll use during the first week and avoid the back-to-school printing bottleneck. You can also use convenient print services and pick up copies the same day. Set up your filing cabinets with next year’s worksheets organized by subject and date.

3. Take Inventory of Current Supplies

You don’t want to take down your bulletin boards too early in the semester. Students will think the year is over, and they might not be able to focus. But you can take inventory in cabinets or closets as soon as you return from spring break.

Purge things you won’t need. Send artwork, photos, and trinkets home with students. Discard art supplies that are used up or dried out. Spend 10 to 15 minutes a day organizing these spaces.

Taking stock after spring break also reveals if you are low on school supplies needed to get through the final weeks. By this time of year, you may need to replenish necessities like the ones below. Also, see if you have enough teacher essentials to finish the last few months:

4. Check and Store Away Technology

As the school year ends, clean out your digital files. Clear your inbox and move important documents to folders. Assess if the technology in your class works well enough to keep it for another year. Consider getting an external hard drive to store documents you can’t risk losing over the summer.

Before leaving for the summer, shut down computers and interactive whiteboards. Put covers on computers and other electronics. Unplug lights, speakers, and pencil sharpeners. Remove the batteries from all devices to avoid corrosion during the idle summer months.

5. Host a Class Party or Celebration

There are plenty of must-do activities for the end of the school year, but the class party might be the most enjoyable. Consider letting the students help with planning. They can suggest decorations and plan snacks and drinks on the menu.

Class party ideas can include:

  • A talent show
  • Pajama day, where kids come to school in PJs and bring a stuffed animal
  • Game day
  • A slideshow of memories from the year

6. Finalize Attendance and Grades

One of the most important year-end to-do’s is assessing students and submitting final grades. If you’ve kept up with evaluations all semester, this step is just adding new information to a student’s current record.

Set aside time to evaluate your current record-keeping system and determine the format you prefer for next school year’s record book and teacher planner.

7. Honor Student Achievements

Don’t let the school year end without recognizing your students’ efforts. Prepare for a formal awards ceremony by creating award certificates using certificate paper and covers.

Review the program’s agenda, so you understand the expectations of students. Practice etiquette with younger students. Make sure they know how to shake hands or clap for their peers. Consider having students dress up for an assembly and capture the day with a class picture.

If your school doesn’t host an awards program, hold an informal one for your class. Order prizes and rewards and include humorous honors to make it fun. Ideas include “Biggest Book Worm,” “Most Amazing Questioner,” “Most Talkative,” and “Best Whiteboard Writer.”

Some teachers write a note to each student highlighting their personal and academic strengths. The notes can encourage students to read over the summer and let them know you’re confident they’ll do well the next school year.

8. Send Student Art and Work Home

One person’s junk is another’s refrigerator art. We just made that up, but the artwork and homework cluttering your classroom might wind up on display at home.

As you’re cleaning files and desks, send students’ work home. Also, send home extra supplies like folders, crayons, and spiral notebooks. Have students put the supplies straight into their backpacks. Now, they’re ready for summer art projects.

9. Reflect on the Past Year

Give yourself time to reflect on what went well and what you’d change for the past year. What would you change in your classroom setup? What were your favorite lessons, and which ones should you rework?

Did you teach the lessons in the best order? What was your favorite teaching moment? Also, consider what you’d like to do more or less in the coming year. If a work-life balance is a problem, consider better ways to set boundaries.

10. Start Planning for the Next Year

Reviewing the current school year naturally leads to planning for the next year. You can start with a new teacher planner and refresh the lesson plans you already use. Review the full curriculum and use a holistic approach to instruction. For example, rather than teaching math only in math lessons, have students use math in language arts, science, or social studies.

Consider using the summer months for professional development activities. These could be formal, like attending a conference, or informal. Here are a few examples:

  • Follow a teacher’s Facebook group
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Take an online course

Save time and money by sharing resources with peers at your school. Create cloud-based folders to share assignments and teaching materials.

Do what works for you to keep your skills up to date, but seriously, plan to turn off your “teacher brain.” Take time for yourself this summer. Swim in the lake, take a spa day, or walk in the forest preserve.

11. Get the Supplies You Need for a Successful School Year

As you pack up the classroom, look around and think about the decorations, supplies, and instructional materials you’ll need next year. Could you use more hand sanitizer or magnets? Did you have enough dry-erase markers? Is it time to replace learning resources that are worn or dated? Browse teacher supplies for inspiration. Create a list of classroom materials you’ll need to start the school year. You can revise it over the summer as your lesson plans take shape.

About the Author
Lauren Jiles-Johnson is a tutor, mentor, and board president of Waukegan to College, a college-readiness organization in Waukegan, Illinois. Waukegan to College helps fifth- to 12th-grade students achieve their dream of being the first in their families to attend college.

All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.