End of the Year Clean Up

Disclaimer: I am not a cleaning type of person! Or an organized person! But at the end of each school year I become an obsessive cleaner and organizer! 
I started this year with my desk: something that REALLY needed to be done but something the students wouldn't notice. It was A MESS![And yes, that's a DOLL...it's not mine. I walked in one morning to find it sitting there!]  I started by going through student work. What did I want to keep? What did I want to give back? And what did I want to recycle? [Hint: A LOT!] Instead of doing it in one day and having a HUGE pile of papers next to my desk with a note on top to my lovely custodians, I spent one week where during my lunch and any free time [I know...what?? Free time?] I filled up one recycling can. Once I filled it up, I called it quits for the day! This made it much more manageable for ME and was a lot less overwhelming.

Once the papers were done I sorted the folders by color so it will be easier for me to find them next year and develop a better system [side note: I REALLY want to go paperless next year! Going through all these papers made me realize how much paper I use and that it really wouldn't be THAT hard to make things paper less.]

Then I decided to conquer "the other stuff": pens, markers, pencils, paper clips, binder clips...all the little things that easily make a space look messy! I put all my flair pens and sharpie markers in one mug then sorted through my pencils: bite marks on it? No eraser? Worn down? OUT YOU GO! Yes, I felt a little guilty throwing out pencils that were technically fine but I don't have the space! And I really don't think any kids would want a chewed on, no eraser pencil! I put paper clips and binder clips back in their boxes and stacked them up. 
Then I looked at my binders. Were there any I wasn't actually using or maybe I used but don't need any more? YES! I'm done with TEAM and I had TWO binders for that. I kept them, but instead of leaving them on my desk, I tucked them into my now EMPTY (thank you recycling bin) drawer. Then I found my Teacher Evaluation binder for this year...THAT I NEVER USED! Seriously! There were about two things in it. I took them out and added them to my original TE binder. I also decided to create new side labels that all had a matching design to create a more cohesive visual look.

Then I started on my classroom: first I organized my shelves and my cabinets. What should be thrown out? What were extra supplies that I needed to better organize? What was I temporarily keeping until I had a better version of it?
After doing that I started on the more obvious things [when I was doing this process, school was still in session. I waited until the last week to do these more obvious things.] That included organizing the easel, scrubbing down the counters and walls, and of course taking down the decorations. I actually saved most of my decorations (except my computer numbers which ripped by accident when I pulled them off) for two reasons: one, what if I for some reason, I didn't have time this summer to create new ones or redesign the old ones? And two, I keep them as a reference for the size and end product [so when I'm wondering wait, how big were those student work labels and I can't find the file on my computer, I have a back up! Not that that happened to me! ;)].
Once I finished that it was larger items the students  (and I!) were still using that had to be put away (and that I had to find a space for!): teacher toolbox, tape dispenser, pencil cup, crayons, etc. Then I stacked the chairs and moved some of the tables and furniture to make sure the carpets were clear for cleaning.

This was the finished product:

Here are my take away tips if you still need to finish cleaning your classroom or if you are done for the year, maybe they can help you next year!

1) Designate a place for everything BEFORE you start cleaning. I knew classroom posters were going to go on ONE specific shelf. I knew computer wires go in one certain cabinet. I designated another shelf for extra supplies like pencils and coloring books. That way once you start cleaning you have go to spots to put things. Then you can organize these things once they are grouped together.
2) Facial wipes make amazing cleaning cloths for counters. They cut through the layer of dirt that's collected, smell nice, and I don't feel guilty going through rolls of paper towels. I know the custodians will clean the counters and walls this summer but the counters were REALLY grungy. [Speaking of walls, I tried to clean the walls and removed the bigger pencil marks but oh my lord! Have you ever taken down your decorations and you can still see where the posters were because there is a layer of grime on the wall where they line up? The kids were SHOCKED! And I was all "Well that's why I tell you not to touch the walls and put your feet on the walls!" Sigh.

3) Decide what you are going to do with student work before you begin going through it. Are you going to give it back? Are you going to recycle it? Are you going to take one sample from each project to use as a model for next year? Then put the student work samples with the lessons or topic. For me that meant in my lesson binders for each grade.

4) Accept that it will never be perfectly organized...that's okay! Reality is in two to three months you'll be taking it all out again to use it and it won't matter how organized it was. A big part of classroom clean up is more storing things in spots where you'll be able to find it next year.

P.S. If you read my last Five for Friday post, you know I was planning on taking a break for the month of June from all work. Um, nope. Did not happen. When inspiration hits, I take advantage of it. Inspiration + work = easy and exciting. Work + no inspiration = hard and boring. Right!? So I'm letting inspiration motivate me when it comes and not stressing when it doesn't.

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