While the end of the year is exhausting, it's also the perfect time for reflecting. You are probably having your students reflect on their year by creating memory books; reflecting on what they've learned this year, their favorite memories, and the fun they've had. Now it's your turn!
At the end of the year, I like to sit down & reflect on the things that worked, and the things that did not work. Taking the time at the end of the year, even when I'm tired & feel I cannot add one more thing to my to do list, makes it easier for when I'm in full on summer loving-flip flop-mode & it is time to return to the classroom. I make a few lists for myself to reflect on my classroom management strategies, classroom setup, small group management & classroom supplies. This makes the return to school much easier, because let's face it, as much as I think I'll remember the little things, if I don't write it down, it's long gone!
1. Classroom management strategies
Each group of students is different & because of this, management strategies change from year to year, sometimes even within the year! Take a minute & think about the strategies that were successful throughout the year and even in those last few months, when I'm sure you had to change things up a little bit! Noting changes, strategies, successes, & flops will help as you prepare for next year. And consider what you'll need to get in place for next year; do you need any new supplies, do you need to make any copies? Take care of what you can now, you won't regret it later!
I use a classroom economy & at the end of the year I always copy student check books for the next year so it is one less thing to worry about during the back to school rush!
2. Classroom setup
I also always think about how the classroom setup was beneficial for myself & my students & how I can improve it. Take a quick look around your classroom...is there anything you did NOT use this year? Pack it up, bid it adieu, and send it on its way! If you have not used it recently, you probably will not use it in the future.
I did a major overhaul in my room over the past few years & getting rid of filing cabinets, old books, shelves & papers that I did not need freed up so much space in my room! I am reclaiming my space. And you know what kids love to take home? Your old stuff!
After taking a close look at what I can get rid of, I draw out a diagram of how I'd like my classroom set up the next year. This always comes in handy & makes me really think about where & why I place things in my room. I know I will definitely move one of my tables next year, it didn't leave easy access to my whiteboard. And I'll leave my writing center where it is because it gave my students a quiet place to write. And I loved having an open space for class meetings & discussions this year, so I'll be sure to keep that space clear.
3. Small group management
Reflecting on how my small groups functioned throughout the year is so important to me. Getting to the point in the year when your groups can basically run themselves is an amazing feeling!! And at the beginning of the year, you sometimes feel like it will never happen!
Take a few notes; what changes did you make throughout the year & what worked out well for you? I always want to learn from my mistakes & make sure I have the tools I need to make my small groups successful each year.
The past few years I have worked hard to get a math workshop in place that does not feel like I'm doing math all day (you know that feeling, right?). I will definitely be reflecting on the changes that I made throughout the year to get my math workshop running so smoothly. What works for your small groups & what can you eliminate?
4. Classroom supplies
I know how you're feeling right now...where are all the pencils? Seriously, where did they go? The end of the year always means that supplies are running low, just like your tolerance for missing supplies! You may have implemented a new pencil system to alleviate the problem or found a way to store supplies that prevents the ever so imminent supply drought. Write it down! Note what's working, you'll thank yourself later.
I tried to have group pencils this year & each group only had a certain number. It did NOT work. I will definitely be going back to each student being responsible for their own pencils through a pencil challenge; the group challenge was a flop! A big, huge flop!
Keep track of what supplies are low & make a list; add those things to your student supply list for next year. Any supplies that are old, dried out, worn out, or unused...you know who to give them to, the kids!! Their parents will love this reflection process you're doing!
These are just a few simple things that you can do now to leave you & your room refreshed & ready for a new year.
Here are a few templates to help you get organized as you reflect on what was working for you this year! Click below! I'd love to know if you find these helpful!