We teachers put so much time and effort into setting up our classrooms! You plan the seating and work areas. You set up storage and decor. It literally takes days (even months) of arranging and rearranging to get it just right. So what do you do when you hear the dreaded words, "You're moving to a new classroom next year"?
I almost passed out. All the work, all the time, all the memories! I looked around and didn’t know where to start. How do I pack? What should I keep? What can I throw away? So many questions. It was overwhelming!
I’m sure you’ve probably felt this same way, maybe even right now. So, I want to share what I’ve learned about moving to a new classroom. Here are my top tips to make the move simple, SUCCESSFUL, and (hopefully) not stressful!
TIP #1 - Take Pictures of Your Old Classroom
If you want to keep some things in your new classroom the same as they were in your old classroom, this tip will save you so much time! It’s really easy to forget what was stored in a certain cabinet or shelf once it’s all put into boxes. When I packed up my room, I took a picture of my bookshelf, which held all of my personal teaching materials, and taped it right to the back of the shelf. That way I knew right where to put the binders and workbooks when I unpacked. You know how it is - once it comes off the shelf, you can never get it quite right again. Taking pictures solves that problem!
This tip works well with cabinets too. All those bins you bought that hold all your supplies so perfectly? Once they’re out of the cabinet or closet, you will NOT remember exactly where they were or how they were all arranged. But just like the saying goes - “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Snap a quick pic of your perfectly organized space and you'll be able to duplicate it in your new classroom easily.
TIP # 2 - Create a First Week of School Box
The first week of school is hectic enough without have to dig through bins, boxes, and cabinets for the materials you need. You can avoid that added stress by packing a “first week bin” and bringing that bad boy home with you over the summer. When you go back in the fall, you'll have all the materials you need in one easily accessible place. You know, just in case you couldn’t get all the unpacking and organizing done over summer (or didn’t want to, which is totally ok too).
Some materials I suggest putting into your first week bin are pencils, markers, scissors, stapler, “getting to know you” activities, welcome letter for kids/parents, and any other absolute essentials to get through those first couple of days. Having a few independent work activities available will also give you a little time to get more of your new classroom organized and figured out!
TIP # 3 - Choose the Right Bins
My favorite tool for moving classrooms is a plastic bin. But not any plastic bin will do. I like CLEAR plastic bins. This makes moving a breeze. Plastic bins are perfect for stacking on top of one another and they are very sturdy. This is definitely a plus when moving from one classroom to another.
The reason I prefer clear bins is so I can easily see what’s inside and pull out what I need. You also can also easily tell if it’s stuff you don’t need in your new classroom quite yet. That way you can stash it away until you need to unpack it.
And the very best thing about plastic bins? They keep all the gross stuff out! Dust, bugs (paper attracts them), dog hair (umm, 3 big dogs here) and everything in between. The materials inside the bins will stay in great shape and they are so easy to stack and store.
TIP # 4 - Ask Parent Volunteers to Help Pack
I love doing this… asking my room parents if they can help me move to a new classroom. Having a few extra hands always makes the work go a little faster. While my parent volunteers pack, I have some time to go through my resources and materials, and purge all of the crap.
When using volunteers, the #1 thing is to give them the right tools and explicit instructions. Give parents easy and precise directions on what and how to pack. This will make it easier on them and you won’t have to re-do everything after they leave.
I like to supply my helpers with the following items:
Packing tape to label tables/chairs/desks with room # and name
Pre-made sticker labels for my plastic bins
** If you have any other essentials to make packing easy, send them my way in the comments. I love trying new things that make teacher life easier!
Parents are a great resource, but if you can’t have them in your room right now (thanks COVID), consider having students help. They love to feel responsible for important things and moving classrooms is DEFINITELY an important thing!
TIP # 5 - Out With The Old (classroom) And in With The New (classroom)
Use the move from your old classroom to your new one as an opportunity to purge! Get rid of the 40 copies of that worksheet you kept because you might use it next year. Toss all the dusty prizes and the old chocolate you kept in your desk. Grab a big garbage can like the ones used in your cafeteria... I’m talking a BIG garbage can, people! This will give you space to really go all out with your cleaning! Give yourself permission to get rid of things. It will make the move so much easier.
One thing I try to do every year, but definitely whenever I have to move classrooms, is to set up a free book table. I clean out my classroom library and make a big stack of any books I no longer want - books that are worn out, for the wrong grade level, or just kind of outdated. I pile them on a table and at the end of the day, the kids get to go pick a book to take home. Anything that's left over goes to Goodwill and saves me from having to pack them up!
Moving classrooms is a time to start fresh. You don’t need to purchase all new items but at least get rid of some of the excess you’ve collected (hoarded maybe?) over the year in your old classroom. Your mind and new room will thank you!
Moving to a new classroom can be stressful and hard. But with these simple ideas and tips, you can make the move easy and successful! Happy packing!
An easy job for parent volunteers is labeling your supplies! Have them sort all of your glue, scissors, pencils, etc. into individual bins to make it easy for students to get their own.
Pre-made supply labels make it super easy to get and stay organized all year!