It's spring. The days are getting warmer, flowers are beginning to bloom, and your thoughts automatically turn to spring cleaning, right? Time to open the windows, let in the fresh air, and sweep away those winter cobwebs. Here are some ideas that will help you prep for the end of the school year—in the classroom and outside of it.
Brighten Up Your Classroom
Try to look at your classroom with fresh eyes. Are bags of materials from winter projects tucked haphazardly behind a cabinet? Are the student papers you hung up six weeks ago looking pretty faded? Have those shriveled plants on the windowsill seen better days? Maybe it's time to get rid of winter remnants and welcome the new season.
Perhaps you've been thinking about reorganizing your classroom. Maybe you'd like your desks arranged in pods rather than rows, or you'd like to move your work area from the front of the room to the back. You don't need to wait until next fall to experiment with a new arrangement. Give it a try now! Surprise your students and make them a little more curious about what the last months of school might bring.
Work Your Workspace
Consider your own workspace and decide what needs to go. Take down memos and notes that are long out-of-date. Get rid of pencils without erasers and pens that have gone dry. Pitch old magazines and stacks of papers you haven't looked at (and probably never will). Wipe down your desk with a cleaner, add a flowering plant where the old papers were, and enter the end of the school year with a workspace that isn't bogged down with the past.
Further Reading: Fight the Flu! A Teacher's Guide to Battling Germs (Infographic)
Reenergize Your Teaching
Next, turn your fresh eyes to the lessons and units you plan to teach from now until the end of the school year. You know some tried-and-true plans work, but others may not generate much interest among your students. These stand to be refreshed.
Consider whether some topics could lend themselves to group projects instead of direct instruction, for example. Substitute a new book for the same old novel you teach every spring so it will be interesting to both you and your students. Instead of giving the usual test when you finish a unit, ask your students to demonstrate their understanding in a skit, cartoon, or poem. Spring, after all, is a reawakening, so think about what you can do to enliven your students' interest in your subject.
Read Next at Hey Teach: Journal Writing Creates Connections and Sparks Interest
Prune Your Professional Resources
Besides refreshing your classroom and teaching plans, take a little time to evaluate and revive other areas of your life outside of school. For example, a teacher friend of mine recently told me she reviewed her checkbook and found she was spending $60 a month on educational publications and websites she no longer looks at. While certain subscriptions might have been helpful at some point, it's time to cancel when you haven't looked at them in over a year. Then spend more judiciously with the money you'll save (in my friend's case, $720 a year!).
Spring is also a good time to review your resume. You may not be looking for another job, but it's still a good idea to keep your resume up to date. Opportunities can arise unexpectedly, and you'll want a resume that reflects your latest accomplishments. That way, if your district adds a new position you're interested in or a conference is looking for presenters, you're ready to apply. Your resume should be fresh, accurate, and printed in a professional font.
Let the Sunshine In
The nice weather can be distracting for everyone at the end of the year, especially if it's business as usual in the classroom. But you can take advantage of spring's energy by refreshing your classroom, shaking things up a little, and letting the sunshine in to end the year on a strong note. And what's more, cleaning and updating now means you won't be left with a huge task come summertime.