Surviving the End of the School Year

How to survive the end of the school year: Ideas for music teachers to plan for the end of the year and organize for next year!
I know it seems a bit crazy that I'm writing about the end of the school year on April 24, but my last day with students is May 20! (Disclaimer: I started school the second week of August, so don't be too mad at me!) Because of this, I am having to think about the end of the school year now. Here are my suggestions for surviving the end of the school year so you can have a relaxing summer, and so that you can come back at the start of school year refreshed and organized!

#1: Plan out the rest of the year

Since I only have four weeks left, I recently sat down and figured out exactly what I needed to do with each grade level by the end of the year. You can simply make a table in Word or use Excel, and list each lesson by week, which assessments you're doing, which concepts you're presenting or practicing, etc. This was super helpful! I have year plans for every grade level (you can learn more about year plans with this video), but these 4-week plans have exactly what I know I can get to and aren't necessarily as detailed as year plans. In my district, we've moved to standards-based grading, so I have to give grades by categories of standards instead of just one music grade. Figuring out which assessments I was doing for the remainder of the school year was very helpful to make sure I had all my categories/ standards covered!

#2: Find out about field trips, parties, assemblies, etc.

The end of the year can be crazy…so many field trips, Field Days, assemblies, etc. I just sent out an email last week to find out about when students might not be coming to music, because then I truly know how many more lessons I have with each class…and in some cases, there are only two lessons left! Ack! I know I should be excited about summer, and I am, but I feel like I still have so much to teach them and so little time! Along those lines…

#3: Decide what you HAVE to teach…and what you can teach next year

Don't feel guilty. You didn't get to everything. None of us do. So decide what you really still HAVE to teach, and what you can wait until the start of next year to teach. We are really lucky that in a K-5 or K-6 setting, we typically have the students from year to year, so we know exactly where we left off and where we can begin! I thought I'd get to “la” with 1st grade, because I thought I had four more lessons with them. But then when I looked at all the field trips, assemblies, etc., I realized that a few of the classes I only had two more lessons with, and they won't be ready for la at that point. So I'll have to present it in second grade. It's okay. No guilt! (Well, maybe a little…but that's okay!)

#4: Organize your stuff now!

I have a confession. I may seem super organized, but I'm not. I am pretty organized when it comes to lessons and digital files, but when it comes to stuff I can pick up with my hands, um….not so much. In second grade, I got a “N” in desk cleanliness, because, well, my desk needed improvement! My first instinct to seeing a mess of things is to just shove things in and close the lid/ drawer. It's not a good instinct! At the start of this year, I thought I'd organize everything, but truly, I just had too much to do. And my things remained pretty disorganized. I had these tubs to organize my daily lesson materials, which helped, and I put labels on all of my drawers (because otherwise, I really wouldn't know where anything was!), and I kept things looking like they were organized on the outside, but still, my room, my manipulatives, my books…they were all secretly a bit of a mess. The entire year.
So a few weeks ago, I decided that every day, I would organize a little bit. It's too overwhelming to think about cleaning everything at once, so I've taken a drawer a day and have worked at it. And I'm super excited about leaving the room in an organized state, because at the start of next school year, I'll open a drawer and know where everything is. Hooray! (Now if only I could be that organized at home…)

#5: Think about next year

I know it seems way too early to think about next school year, but by thinking about it now, you can save yourself so much time and stress later! I recently found a few things on Pinterest that I decided I HAD to do next year, like gluing pom-poms to the end of dry erase markers like this (click the picture to see the full article):

Dry erase marker erasers, and other great organizational ideas for your classroom!

And I'd like to try having students write their names on plates when they go to the use the restroom:

Great way of keeping track of restroom breaks, and other great organizational ideas for your classroom!
So I started a secret board on Pinterest called “To try next year,” so I'd remember everything I want to try.  Jodi at Clutter-Free Classroom suggests to try out some of the ideas you find NOW so you can figure out if they are ideas you want to keep for all of next year (check out this blog post with her advice; I found the post as I was writing this one!)
If you do a classroom theme, think about how you might want to decorate next year. I did a jungle theme this year, and am thinking of a monster theme for next year. Here is a Pinterest board I created with a bunch of monster ideas…I plan on making a set specific to the music classroom!

Because I am doing the research now, it'll be so much easier for me to try making some of these crafts over the summer! If you're looking for themes, Jodi at the Clutter-Free Classroom has a great guide for inspiration here.

What are your strategies for surviving the end of the year? Feel free to comment below, and good luck!

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Hi, I'm Aileen

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