Over the years, our classrooms accumulate a lot of stuff. And whether it is a move down the hall or to a different school, moving classrooms can be quite a chore.
This year is the first time I am moving schools and I wanted to share some tips as I am packing up and getting ready for the move. I have been in my current classroom for over a decade, so I have lots to organize, pack, and quite honestly, throw in the trash.
I hope that if you are packing up to switch classrooms in your building, to switch schools, or even to take a break from teaching for a while, you find some of these tips helpful.
Moving Classrooms Tip 1: Declutter
When you think about the time and effort involved in moving classroom materials, it makes sense to only move what you really need. In my case, I am moving my classroom items into my house to store for the summer before moving them into my new classroom. I can’t be packing up materials that I don’t really need.
Use me as a cautionary tale. Years ago, I was the queen of clutter. I mean, you never know when you will need that one thing from 10 years ago… Luckily, I already spent HOURS clearing out my classroom long before I knew I would be moving classrooms.
Before getting ready to move classrooms, it is essential to start with decluttering. Get the recycling bins and garbage bins ready! I also grabbed some boxes for donating materials. However, make sure that you aren’t just donating garbage.
Here are some guidelines I set for myself. I certainly don’t want to be bringing “what ifs” with me when I pack up.
Iif I haven’t used something in the past 3 years I need to let it go. Since I am switching grade levels when I move, there are a few items I am willing to hang on to for just one year to see if I want to use them in my new position.
Newer items that I am no longer using, can be donated. If you live in or around Chicagoland, one of my favorite places to donate is Scarce. (This is also a great place to find school supplies if you are in need of any). If anything is 15+ years old it needs to make its way directly into the trash.
Moving Classrooms Tip 2: Organize and Pack
Once when I have the items that I want to move with me. I try to organize them with like items. I figure it will be easier to find what I am looking for if I keep similar materials together. This will also make unpacking easier since these items are stored together.
If you organize your classroom by months, make sure to organize your materials this way, too. For instance, if you have an October bin, make sure to keep only usable October items and pack up any stray fall-ish items in that bin, too.
Consider the teaching materials that you regularly use. These would be the items that you want to be easiest to find when you move to a new classroom. Make sure to keep these materials grouped together and easy to find.
Moving Classrooms Tip 3: Label your bins/boxes
When packing, you want to be able to find the materials you are looking for. You also will want to prioritize the unpacking of materials. Clear bins can make this easy since you can see in the bins. Especially, if you have already organized the materials, you should know what is inside the bin by looking at just a few items.
I didn’t have too many clear bins, so I ended up using many copy paper boxes. These boxes are great in size and I love their lids, but in order to know what was inside, I needed to label them. I tried to briefly label the contents on the side of each box.
I also used a few milk crates to organize files and other items. These were pretty easy to see, but I made sure to have clear labels on file folders.
Moving Classrooms Tip 4: Start with the less noticeable areas
I didn’t want to visibly start packing up items too soon. My students don’t know that I’ll be moving schools yet, so I tried to focus my decluttering, organizing, and packing up areas they can’t see like my closets and some of my shelves.
On my countertops or walls, I might start organizing and decluttering, but still leave the materials out until closer to the end of the school year. However, once I am ready, I can quickly box them up.
For materials on my classroom walls, I used state testing as part of the reason to take them down. Since we already had to have a lot of the materials covered for testing, I just told my students it was easier to take it down.
Moving Classrooms Tip 5: Work on select areas during the day
If your students are reading quietly or working nicely on a project, use that time to tackle a small area in your classroom. For instance, I went through some files while my students were completing a math assignment. I even walked around the room providing assistance and monitoring work, while also flipping through some old file folders before tossing most everything into the recycling bin.
Of course, this time during time with students should be limited. Your main focus still needs to remain on your students! However, as all students are logged onto the computer working on math fact practice, you might as well take a few minutes to sort through that one drawer.
Moving Classrooms Tip 6: Make a plan based on available time
Think about the areas that can be packed up first and prioritize what can get done in a given amount of time. For instance, you can sort through a couple of files during the day as students complete a test. During your longer plan time, you might be able to look at a shelf in the closet.
If you have a list of items of accomplish, you can easily check them off during moments you have free. End up having indoor recess duty? Look at the list to see what you can get done in 10 minutes. Have the energy to go into work 30 minutes early one day, look at a task that might take a bit longer to complete and jump right in.
Moving Classrooms Tip 7: Do a little each day
While I have been in my classroom for a few longer stretches to get things ready. I am trying to declutter, organize and pack up a little bit each day. I try to bring home a few smaller bins or a box each day to make the moving out easier and less noticeable.
If you are moving classrooms or schools this year, I wish you the best of luck for a smooth transition.