5 Tips to Clean Up and Organize Your Classroom Before Summer Break

By the time the last few days of the school year have arrived, so has full-blown exhaustion.

Just the thought of getting organized, cleaning up, and packing up my classroom makes me want to stop everything and take a long nap.


instead of running off and hibernating, I think about what my future teacher self would want me to do. And after years of teaching, I know that my future back-to-school teacher self wants me to take some time and get that classroom under control before heading out for summer break.

This quick list has 5 tried and true tips that will help you clean up your classroom and get your room organized as simply as possible before heading off to enjoy the summer. Give these tips a try this year, your future teacher self will surely thank you in August!

✅Spring Cleaning...Teacher Style

Purge, teacher friend, purge. I know from experience that waiting even one year to throw something out that you never use does no one, especially you, any good! Teachers definitely have that hoarding mentality because let's face it, we spend a lot of our own money on classroom supplies and it is not easy to just throw something out that we may one day possibly use! I know, I have been there. Change your mindset to sharing those things you do not use instead of tossing them and you will feel better!

๐Ÿ‘Recycle old materials that you will never use again, especially if they are outdated.

๐Ÿ‘Collect things that are new, or in good condition and leave them in the teacher's room for others to use. One teacher's junk is another teacher's treasure...it's really true!

๐Ÿ‘Have an end-of-the-year raffle for kids with your old teacher stuff! Seriously, my students love this! We have a big raffle on the last day of school. Many things that make it into the raffle are things that I purged, like mismatched folders, faded construction paper or art supplies, supplies that perhaps the teacher before you left behind that you will never use, and really anything that you feel "bad" about tossing that are appropriate for the kids to "win" in the raffle.

๐Ÿ‘Have a lot of cubbies you dread opening? Pick one and start there. Clean that one cabinet out. Once you have done that you will feel accomplished and want to do more. And if you do not want to do more? That is ok because you succeeded at getting one all cleaned out! Yay!

Of course, be sure to check with your administration before throwing out school purchased materials.

✅Get that Classroom Library Under Control

I love my classroom library. And during the first few weeks of school, I teach my students to love it too. Yet somehow during the school year, it gets a bit out of control. Even with a strict system for borrowing and returning books it still gets disorganized. For this clean-up, enlist the help of students. Assign students an area or shelf of the library to check and organize. If your baskets are labeled by genre, have them check that there are no misplaced books. No matter how they are organized, your students can and should get each shelf and basket back on track.

This is also a great time to weed through and take out books that have not been read by students in a while. And bonus tip...add those books you no longer want in your classroom library to the end of the year raffle, kids love it!

✅Pass it on Back

We all have that dreaded pile of student work that we "forgot" about throughout the year. Papers that were never edited, activities that were never scored, and projects that were taken down from the bulletin board and never handed back. #guilty Now is the time to hand it all back! While students work on content-rich projects, use the time to clean out those stacks! Pass out all the papers, notebooks, workbooks, and projects slowly during the last two weeks of school. Send some home each day and by the last day of school...no more piles and no more bulletin boards to take down. By doing it over time during the last few weeks of school, you will feel less stressed and have less to do during the last day or two of the year!

✅Get Ready for the 1st Week of School

Yes, you read that right! Prepping a few things for the beginning of the year will really help you end the year on the right foot and truly enjoy the summer! By preparing things that you know you will need the first week of school, you are not wasting time at the end of the year, but rather gaining time come back to school season. And yes, your future teacher self will thank you for this! 

Here are some things you should do now, to save time in a few months:

  • Map it out! Leave a map on the whiteboard for custodial staff and yourself to know and remember where each of your furniture pieces and boxes goes! This is so helpful and a must!
  • Make back-to-school bulletin boards and any bulletin boards that you leave up all year and cover them with newspaper or old anchor charts to prevent them from fading with the summer sun. I always set up my September calendar at the end of the year and it feels so good to walk in after the summer and see it already done! 
  • Know which back-to-school activities you will do? Make copies now! We all have those staple back-to-school activities we love and do each year. Head to the copy room while it is empty now and make copies because you know that the copy room will be jam-packed during the back-to-school season.
  • Make copies of other materials that you KNOW you will need like thank you cards, parent communication log, the first unit of spelling, first writing activity, or anything else that you know for sure will be needed in the new year!
  • Create your supply list for yourself and future students based on what supplies you have left from this year.
  • Decide on your back-to-school read-alouds and find them! Have that stack ready to go for the first week of school.

classroom calendar and bulletin board set

✅Get Mentally Prepared for Summer

I know you are ready for summer, but be sure to clear your mind before you shut your classroom door. Heading off to summer means we have a lot of time to think, and sometimes overthink or stress about the upcoming year. If you are like me, you like to learn over the summer, think of new ideas for your students, and find new books or lessons to use in the new year. It took me a while to realize that even on my time off, teaching was creeping into too many of my free moments. I needed a mindset change to take back some of my time off, especially during the summer!

If you love learning about teaching over the summer, instead of trying to learn ALL the things, pick ONE topic to learn about over the summer. Want new books for your classroom? Then focus on that. Realize you need to mix up your management system? Read some blog posts by other teachers. Want to help start the year with a growth mindset? Discover and read some professional development books on the topic. But you cannot and should not do it all! If learning over the summer is your thing, pick ONE thing to focus on. Do not use your summer to catch up on everything. 

Since I am sharing so many things dos for the end of the year, I wanted to also share some quick things that you should NOT do at the end of the year. These things will just waste your time, teacher friend, so do not do them! Save them for the beginning of the new school year!

Teacher friends don't let teacher friends:

✅Create class lists or labels for the new year at the end of the year.

✅Plan seating arrangements for the new year at the end of the year.

✅Stress over students in your new class before you even met them.

Remember even though pure exhaustion has set in, and all you want to do is hibernate, think of your future teacher self...what would they want you to do? They would want you to clean up and organize your classroom before leaving for summer break! Even if you only do one item on this list, your future teacher self will thank you! 

Enjoy the summer break, friend! You deserve it!

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Looking for back-to-school activities to have prepped and ready to go?  See more HERE.

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