The second half of the school year can fly by, and it's easy to feel like you need to stomp on the brakes to hold off summer vacation. Luckily, this checklist for teachers can help. I created this to keep track of all the details I need to address by the end of the school year.
Further Reading: 5 End-of-Year Mistakes Teachers Make in the Classroom
Major Projects and Assessments
As early as January, I try to have the basic components of my major academic projects planned for the rest of the year.
- Take stock of what you've completed thus far. Make a list of what you need to accomplish before you start planning the final semester.
- Plan start and end dates for major academic projects. Work backwards from the date of the end of the unit to ensure you have enough time to complete everything.
- Gather and purchase materials needed for in-class activities.
- Provide students and families with project requirements and approximate completion dates.
- Invite your school administration to all your in-school events.
- Plan field trips and book any special transportation needed.
- Coordinate projects with your grade level.
- Allow an extra week for any major projects, just in case you need it.
- Try to give volunteers at least a three-week advance notice.
- For in-school performances, reserve space needed and update the school community calendar.
- Plan all assessments, whether these are tests, projects, or presentations. Let students and families know in advance.
The Calendar with Everything
The end of the year is way too busy to rely on your memory and the school calendar. Create a master calendar with all of the "cannot forget" dates. Include:
- All mandatory local, state, and federal tests. Triple check the dates. Share them with parents.
- Review the curriculum you're required to complete and by when. What do you have left to get done?
- Plan unit-ending tests around vacations. Some families tend to leave a day early or return a day late. ("It's just one day. Does it really matter?" Yes!)
- Note any schoolwide celebrations, such as concerts, plays, or assemblies.
- Are there any grade-wide festivals coming up at the end of the year, such as an art show or poetry festival? Add them to your calendar.
- When are grades due? Plan to have them ready the week before!
Getting closure as you prepare to complete the 10-month academic journey you and your students have been on is important.
- Starting in the final month of school, provide students with time and activities to wrap up the school year. These can be in-school, whole-class activities, as well as take-home assignments.
- At the end of each week, write down the names of all your students. The last three you think of are the ones you should pay more attention to the following week. Do this through the last week of school to ensure you're spending time with everyone.
- Leave on a positive note. Resolve conflicts with both students and families before the end of the year. Get help from an administrator or guidance counselor to do so.
You thought your only responsibility was teaching? Ha! Finishing the year strong also means taking care of administrative tasks.
- Find out what filing system is needed for grades and report cards, and schedule an afternoon to complete it!
- Fill in all attendance records and other necessary information on student records and files.
- Any students transferring to a new school? Be sure all of their transfer paperwork is in order.
- Check in with your school secretary about required teacher duties before you leave for the summer.
- Some students will undoubtedly start their summer vacation early. Find out who's leaving early in case you need to file their grades or have them complete work early.
Packing Up Your Classroom
If you rush packing up your classroom at the end of the year, you'll pay for it the following fall. Schedule time to organize so you can arrive in August and set up with ease.
- Write down which pieces of furniture you have, including chairs and desks, in case something goes missing. (It happens.)
- If you have a classroom library, make sure the books are covered to prevent damage.
- Lock and secure valuables you want to leave in the classroom (thumb drives, a document reader, etc.).
- Clearly label all boxes, carts, and files with your name, room number, and included items so you can find them with ease.
- Start cleaning the week before school ends. Ask parents to provide shopping bags if needed!
- Order any items you'll need for the next fall. That way, they'll be waiting at school for your return.
Further Reading: 4 End-of-the-Year Teacher Strategies to Liberate Your Summer Vacation
Staying Healthy and Sane Until the End
After spring hits, summer vacation is just around the corner. Plan some extra time to get everything done with ease.
- Get plenty of rest! Don't limp to the finish line; finish feeling strong and healthy.
- Toward the end of the year, the kids may start checking out. Plan compelling activities; otherwise, you'll be stressed and exhausted trying to rein in rowdy students.
- Enjoy your well-deserved vacation!
Now that this checklist for teachers is at your disposal, go forth and kick the end of the year's butt!