Do you ever get the Sunday scaries? You know, that horrible feeing that you need to cut your weekend short because you don’t have lesson plans ready, behavior charts need to be printed, and you have no idea what progress monitoring needs to be completed. It is the WORST! Do you know what is even worse? Summer scaries. I don’t know about you, but by the time August hits, I can be a ball of stress. My first few years of teaching, I would already be looking at school stuff in mid-July because there is just so much to prep. Over the years, I have put systems in place to make the start of the school year so much less stressful. Let me share my special education organization tips and tricks for summer break!
1. Throw it out, you aren’t going to use it.
The end of the school year is the best time to do a deep clean of your classroom. Take the extra hour or two to go through all the drawers and cabinets. Are you going to use that poster that the previous teacher left, even though you haven’t used it in the past three years? Probably not. Will you be handing out three inch pencils without erasers to next years’ students? I doubt it.
During the last two weeks of school, make a bin of everything you are thinking of tossing. Is anything still in new condition? Consider selling it online! I had several wall hangings that were not going to fit into my new classroom theme and I was able to sell all of them on Facebook Marketplace. Used school supplies can be used as prizes for students in end of year activities. You could also let students pick items to take home over the summer! If you have any teacher supplies that you aren’t going to use, ask new teachers if they would like them. Some schools have a specific spot where you can place items that are up for grabs. Even if you aren’t going to use it, it may still help other teachers!
Having a clean classroom at the start of the year will be such a great feeling! At the end of the summer, you can just jump right into decorating and getting ready for students! Keep reading to see more special education organization tips!
2. File away old progress monitoring
Check with your supervisor to see procedures for old progress monitoring documents. Most districts will require you to hold on to a year or more worth of progress monitoring for each student. Save yourself time by filing those documents away as you finish up the final report cards or IEP progress reports. As I finish completing the report, I pull all sheets for that student, print all the digital graphs, and put it in a large manilla folder labeled with the student’s name. All the manilla folders are put in a big paper box labeled with the school year and carefully hidden away on a top shelf. The inside of the box is organized and not taking up room in any of the drawers or shelves I use regularly.
3. Prep data binders for next year
If you do not have students from year to year, please skip this tip!
For years, students would transition from grade to grade while I was still their case manager. It was a great to have deep connections with students and families. It also made it easy to know who the majority of my students would be for the following year.
Before I left for the summer, I made sure I had a binder for each student ready to go with a tab for each goal area. I would also set up graphs for recording progress. Personally, I found Google Sheets to be a great way to do this so that I could access it anywhere! Check out my Digital Progress Monitoring Graphs over at my TPT store. If you need help setting these graphs up, read this Guide to Digital IEP Goal Progress Monitoring Graphs.
4. Make a wishlist
Before leaving for summer break, take some time to reflect. What went well this year? What would have made this year easier? Make yourself a wishlist! While everything is still fresh in your mind, think about what you will want to redo or purchase for the fall. Do you want a new bookcase or a full set of Magic Tree House books? If you have it on your list in June, when you see it on sale at Target mid-July you can pick it up! This is also a great time of year to add things to your TPT wishlist! Save items to remember to purchase during the Back-to-School sale!
5. Write yourself a letter
At the end of the year, I feel absolutely fried. I am exhausted, there are one million things to do, and it feels like summer can’t come soon enough. Some years, I can’t get my room packed up quick enough. I am so ready for time off to remind myself who I am when I am not working all day and night.
But, that is not who we are. We love our students. We show up every day because of them. We got into this profession to be game-changers and to make an impact on their lives. Even in the midst of the craziness of the end of the year, take a few minutes to remember the good moments. Remember the kiddo who met his reading goal. Remember the face of the boy when you showed up at his football game. Remember the happy hour with all your sweet work friends. Remember the time you played kickball even when you had so much to do. Remember the impact you had on this group of kids. Write it down and stick it in your desk for the next hard day. Next year, you will find that note, smile, and remember why you are here.
I hope you enjoyed these special education organization tips!