For the first time in my career, I had to pack up my classroom. I have been lucky enough to work for schools that didn’t require me to box up all of my goods every year. My end of the year duties encompassed shoving the desks to the side, turning out the lights, and locking the door. ((((FIST PUMP)))) This always seemed pretty lucky as I have heard the horror stories from all the educators out there who have to basically strip their rooms down to the studs each and every year.
Well, it’s finally payback time for all of my good fortune in this EOY duty department. I am moving out of a classroom teacher roll and into a contract coaching/curriculum position. This, in turn, means that I will no longer have a large space on campus to call my own (cue the sweaty upper lip). I have spent the last two weeks popping in and out of good old Room 18. Countless decisions have been made. Well, I’m finished. I carted off those precious items, willed my favorite treasures, trashed cruddy items, and left the rest to the sweet teacher who is taking my place in the fall.
I learned a ton while submerged in this tedious process as I had 10 years worth of amazing educator activities, games, manipulatives, toys, files, furniture, and books that I have purchased and/or accumulated over the years. I am going to share my TOP SEVEN TIPS for those teachers out there who are facing a similar situations. If you are taking a leave of absence from your district to head back to school, to focus on being a parent, and/or to change roles/careers like I am, this post is for you. So, without wasting a moment more (heaven knows you will need these precious seconds to spend cleaning and weeding), I give you my PACKIN’ UP CHEAT SHEET.
GET YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK
I expected to be a little emotional when I started packing up my precious teaching things. What I DID NOT expect was to be an absolute blubbering mess. Seriously 🙁 I was on the verge of tears the moment I stepped foot on campus. It became progressively worse as I began opening drawers, bins, and cabinets. So many wonderful memories were drudged up. The cake though was crying in my Super’s face when I hugged him goodbye for the summer. Um . . . GOOD HEAVENS, GIRL . . . pull yourself together.
I know that everyone’s circumstances are different when packing up and moving on from the classroom – a leave for various reasons, returning to school, retirement, becoming a mommy, transitioning into administration . . . the list is endless. However, each one of these will bring a different bag of emotions with it. I wasn’t ready. My suggestion . . . be ready.
If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s okay to sit with sadness. Don’t dwell here, but definitely sit with it for a day or two. Let those feelings hang, soak them up, and process them. It’s definitely a solid way to move past a tough situation faster. With this said, I ended up leaving on that emotional first day. It was the best decision I made during this process. I went home and took a long nap, played a few holes of golf, cried some more, and binged on Boardwalk Empire (Season 3). The next day as I opened that door, I was ready. Sure, I was still a little sad to be saying goodbye, but I was in check.
BRING A SURVIVAL KIT
I learned the hard way that NOT packing snacks and other basic survival items was a really DUMB idea. That second day I was rollin’ . . . I was an absolute packing and sorting machine. However, about 12:30 my tummy started talkin’. By 1:30 my hands were shaking like a baby Chihuahua on a cold as all get out day. This forced me to cut my workday short. This brings me to TIP #2. Pack a lunch and/or things to much on. It seems like a no-brainer, but I spaced this one. Oh, and FRESH water is a must. I forgot that too. (Notice that I said FRESH . . . there is just something about drinking out of the classroom faucets that frightens me to my core.)
In addition to the survival items above, I strongly suggest rockin’ the tunes while you’re working. Upbeat Pandora stations were dang near shaking the walls of my old portable and it helped lighten the mood. I may or may not have danced around a bit on a few killer songs, but we will leave this secret tightly locked in Room 18 🙂
Most of you probably think this is a rather simple notion, but I felt the need to reiterate as it was difficult for me at first. The trash bin is your friend. However, it can be tough to toss things. We’ve all been here . . . the hours we slaved away while creating/cutting/laminating, the endless stream of dollars we’ve spent on various goods, and the classroom memories attached to so many of these items . . . all of these join and drive us to hold on to senseless items. Break the dam. Toss something . . . it’s liberating. Once those first few items get trashed, the decisions get much easier and you’ll need to sweet talk the custodian into a handful of those HUGE bags 😉
|A little inspiration . . .|
When moving out for an extended or indefinite period of time, my recommendation is to touch EVERYTHING. It takes a bit longer, but this tactic helps in three big ways. First, you don’t forget to take anything that you love. Second, you don’t leave a mess for that sweet educator rollin’ in behind you (we’ve all been here . . . sigh . . . again, it’s okay to use the trash can). Finally, when you touch everything, you’re able to dish out the goods amongst your best pals (more on that in a minute).
|Here’s the start of the process ((GULP)).
Cleaning always is SO messy!
One word of caution here. If at all possible, touch each item only ONE TIME. I made the mistake of going back into a cabinet for a second look-see. FOR THE LOVE OF PETE . . . DO NOT DO THIS TO YOURSELF! Not only did I double my gosh dang time in this particular area, but I also ended up getting in a mental struggle over what should come with me (((eye roll))). In the end, I ended up putting back most of the stuff I pulled out. Your first instinct is typically right on target. Lesson learned.
SPREAD THE LOVE
When deciding what to keep, what to toss, and what to leave, think about all of those grand friends of yours who are still in the trenches. Don’t just focus on the district you are in now . . . this is a great time to reflect on all of those stellar teacher friends that have crossed your path over the years. I’m not saying to strip your room (obviously some stuff belongs to the school). However, I am saying that it’s a good idea to will those items that you used successfully. With this said, I left a TON for the gal coming in behind me. However, I also shared some of my favorite resources with my old co-workers from a previous district. I knew that these items would be used immediately. I also liked the idea of keeping some of my best treasures in the “family,” so to speak.
BAGGIES, BOXES, AND ENDLESS CONTAINERS . . . OH MY
When I began deciding what to take with me, I just started randomly piling it on a table. It soon reached the size of a small hill and began tipping over. I won’t tell you what I uttered at this point. But, word to the wise here . . . don’t do this to yourself. My advice is to organize it from the get go. This helps you not over think things and it will make your move “home” much easier.
I set out a series of long flat bins and slapped labels on the sides – math, reading, writing, office, presenting, and random. As I set aside items I wanted to hold on to, I placed them in the bins. When one was full, I closed the lid and it was all ready to cart home. Boom. Easy peasy.
|Large bins are for the main core areas.
Smaller bins house all of the math manips that are mine.
I also suggest further organizing goods into plastic bags. Although many of my items were already packaged in such a way, I combined and cleaned as I sorted. All of my double dice were tossed in a bag. All of my playing cards went into a bag. All of my . . . uh . . . you get the picture here. It is just a nice way to keep all of the small items together and easy to grab.
Finally, I had two boxes going for a couple of my favorite buddies (remember back to all that “family” talk above). Just like the bins that I would bring home, boxes made it quick and easy to sort out and deliver treats to my friends.
CLEAN BEFORE YOU BRING
My last tip of the day is a BIG ONE. I strongly suggest that you clean out a space (or two) for your classroom treasures before you tote it all home. Usually getting out of your room is a huge time crunch. It needed to happen yesterday and the deep clean is already scheduled and the educator taking your place is beggin’ for the key. In addition, you are usually running so much at the end of the year that your home space may look like a bomb went off (well, it did in my house . . . sorry, Dear).
I, personally, felt so pressured for time during this process, but I forced myself to take a time out and clean out my office before I quit. Not only did I make room for the
crap amazing items that needed to find a home, but I also found items that needed to be returned to school (whoopsie . . . my bad).
|One last look . . . before I go.|
This is also the step that will appease your spouse. I don’t know about all you alls, but my man has a thing for his garage. It’s so orderly and clean. This, in turn, absolutely blows my mind as he is like a tornado in the actual house . . . but, I digress. Anyway, I was able to limit the time that the items hung out in the garage because I already had a space ready to take on more goods. The process of moving part of my “classroom” in was pretty seamless and the boy’s griping was kept to a minimum. #wifewin
|The hubby was happy to help.
He was extra pleased when the load was easy to pack.
Oh . . . and isn’t that red chair super dreamy?
Yep. One of my treasures that I treated myself to last year.
Alright, there you have it. My suggestions for packing up your classroom for an extended leave. I know there are many of you out there who have way more practice at this than I do as you pack your room up yearly. If I missed something, feel free to write it in the comments below.
Thanks for taking the time to visit me today. I will be back again soon with an idea for incorporating music into reading instruction 🙂