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How to Pack Up Your Classroom at the End of the School Year

Ready for the end of the school year? Use checklists to make packing up a breeze. Learn how to pack up your classroom at the end of the school year!

Packing up the classroom at the end of the school year. You want to do it right – but yet you really don’t.

You want to just throw everything in the nearest drawer, box, or cabinet and be done with it – but you’ll hate yourself next fall. It’s overwhelming.

Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!  

packing up a classroom at the end of the school year
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I’ll be honest. I’m usually ready for the end of the school year. I always think there’s plenty of time for packing up and cleaning, but no. But I’m usually wrong. I wait too late to start. 

To keep myself on track, I’ve developed some lists. I’m an excellent list maker – I should be; I make lists constantly. Lists help you stay on track and not forget anything important when your mind is racing with 79,999 other things that should’ve been done yesterday. I feel like my head will explode.

I tackle my end-of-the-year lists by making several end-of-the-year lists – notice the “s” on the end of “lists”! That means more than one list with tasks divided up according to when and what.

It’s the End of the School Year – Get psyched up!

Here’s how the End of the School Year Checklists shakes out:

  1. Early tasks (4+ weeks) can be done even with a month left in the school year.
  2. One week to go – tasks that you can perform here and there while you still have school in session.
  3. Student Tasks
  4. Electronics and computer tasks
  5. THE END – Tasks that Finish Up and end the year.

A few words . . .

*Start early! It takes longer than you expect.

*As you pack, keep the boxes light so you can lift them and they won’t fall apart.

*Keep reading for FREE LISTS at the end!

Be honest – will you REALLY use that stuff?

Early Tasks (1 Month+):

~ Print out your End-of-Year to-Do Lists and keep them handy so that you can use all downtime efficiently.

~ Clean out your teacher’s desk. Bonus: Completely empty the drawers, clean them, and neatly organize them as you put things away. Throw out the junk! It’s time to get rid of the broken bracelet, the gross candy leftover from last Halloween (that you’ve been saving all year), and the key that doesn’t fit any lock in your room.

~ Start collecting boxes if you’re moving rooms, buildings, or jobs. Custodians usually know to save good-sized boxes, so tell them early that you need boxes to get first dibs.

~ Begin searching for school-appropriate videos and short (10 minutes or so) videos on YouTube for those last grueling days with unexpected downtime you’ll need to fill. Watch some video clips ahead of time and save them to your YouTube account. My students love watching funny cats and animal videos, but bad words sneak in unexpectedly if you aren’t careful. If you aren’t sure about the video, turn off the sound.

Begin clearing out clutter. Start a pile of things you can give away as prizes or rewards. My students go crazy over old teacher books. They love taking them home. I’m always surprised at how many upper elementary girls and boys admit to playing school with them.

Purge cabinets, cupboards, filing cabinets, and desk drawers.

Find quick, easy print-and-go activities for the last week or so. Teachers Pay Teachers offers so many fun memory books, scrapbooks, coloring activities, etc. My shopping cart is overflowing – truth! So get some printed and ready to go. Our End-of-Year schedule always seems so choppy that we find ourselves with odd 30-minute blocks that we need to fill. Make sure you have a plan. In my experience, bad things happen during those unstructured times.

Save and bring newspapers to cover shelves and bulletin boards.


1 Week to Go Tasks:

Take pictures of all parts of your classroom. Bulletin boards, library shelves, decorations, wall hangings, your desk, your closet, your computer set up, all of it! You think you’ll remember exactly how it was all arranged, but you won’t. And now you won’t have to. Save them on your phone for a quick, easy setup in the fall.

Return anything and everything you borrowed from teachers, the library, the office, the staff room, etc.

Collect library books and anything you want back from students and other staff members.

Tame your piles of paper. Gather scrap paper and extra copies to recycle. Clear cluttered papers from your desk that you’ve been saving to use “someday.” If it hasn’t been used by now, it ain’t gonna happen! Recycle those piles.

Send home students’ posters, binders, folders, and workbooks if you’ve finished using them.

Grab an empty box to collect students’ supplies that they don’t want but you can use for next year’s students. In the past, my students threw out rulers, binders, unopened pencils and pens, and dividers for binders, you name it! So much of it is new or lightly used. It’s a pain to store over the summer, but if you can get away with buying fewer glue sticks and notebooks next year, it’s a WIN!

Bring in cleaning supplies. My school offers cleaning supplies, but they smell bad. So I bring a few of my own cleaning supplies anyway. You may want a spray cleaner, Lysol, paper towels, garbage bags, sponges, etc. Maybe Clorox wipes and shaving cream if you want students to have fun cleaning their desks (plus, it makes your room smell good!)

Decide what items you want/need to bring home for the summer. For example, if you’re attending any summer workshops or in-services, you may want to bring specific binders or notebooks. In addition, bring home anything you plan to revise or revamp and anything you may need access to over the summer.

Take personal items home.

Dig out your “Back to School” file or binder. I bring mine home with me because my mind magically shifts into Back-to-School by the end of July. I’ve learned to bring the file home with me to avoid making a special trip back to school to get it.

Print out Back-to-School To-Do Lists now. You’ll be glad you did.

Start a box for stuff you plan to give away to other teachers, students, or charity.

Make a list (or at least a mental note) of supplies and other items with low inventory so that you can stock up on the right supplies during Back-to-School sales. I’m still overflowing with glue sticks from 2 years ago – I went crazy when they were 25⊄ each and bought way too many. They’re probably dried up at this point.


School Paperwork (AKA – Stuff You Gotta Do):

Finish grades, report cards, and/or placement forms ASAP. Don’t wait until the last minute on this important task.

Finish and file paperwork for cumulative/permanent files.

Complete progress reports, notes, and comments.

Take care of summer school forms if needed.

Make copies of grades or lesson plans that you want or need to keep for yourself if you must turn in your grade book and/or lesson plan book to the office.

Finish inventory sheets, etc., required by your district.

Shred student paperwork no longer needed (IEPs, medical forms, etc.) or pass it on to next year’s teacher.

Turn in order forms and supply lists for next year.

Write thank you notes to staff, students, and parents who have gone over and beyond to help out.

Prepare summer assignments, reading lists, packets/papers, etc., for students over the summer.

Report maintenance and custodial issues/problems.


It’s crucial to write out your computer passwords and keep them in a safe place. Remember, you might think you’ll remember them all, but it’s easy to forget. 

Delete all unnecessary emails. If you need to save them, sort them into an email box or print them into a PDF and save them as a file with your teacher files. My school’s Gmail offers a PDF option. I go to “Print,” then I select PDF instead of choosing a printer. It saves it as a document in whichever file I choose. I keep mine in a File marked with that school year and labeled Important Emails.

Unsubscribe from any email lists you don’t plan to read during the summer or no longer need if you change grades or subject areas.

Back up your files to the cloud, an external hard drive, a flash drive, or your school’s server.

Take a picture of the back of your computer. I do this to see exactly what’s plugged in where – just in case my computer isn’t hooked up when I need it or isn’t working correctly in the fall.

Clear out any personal photos or files that you might have. For example, I use my school computer strictly for school, but sometimes pictures of staff sneak onto the computer somewhere.

Update or edit your teacher page on the school website, your class website, or blog.

student erasing the chalkboard as she helps out her teacher

Student Tasks:

Sort crayons, markers, glue sticks, and other supplies. Students can sort them and decide which need to be tossed.

Clean whiteboards – yeah, remember when they used to be white? And once they’re clean, hide the dry-erase markers and boards from students, or you’ll find yourself cleaning them again later.

Wipe down tables, chairs, desks, and other furniture.

Scrub the inside and outside of student desks.

Label classroom equipment, furniture, desks, etc., with your name or room number.

Organize (and clean) the library books. How do those candy wrappers get shoved in there?

Find books that need to be repaired – you can fix them while students watch videos.

Once the library books and shelves are clean, students can organize the class library for you.

Sharpen pencils and colored pencils for next year.

The Very End of the School Year – Final Tasks:

Pass out all student items to be taken home – final test papers, portfolios, etc.

Remove name tags from lockers, mailboxes, etc.

Cover bulletin boards and bookshelves.

Allow students to help carry desks and stack chairs, etc.

chairs stacked on desks as classrooms are packed up for summer

If You’re Changing Rooms/Schools/Jobs, Etc.:

Make sure your furniture and boxes are labeled clearly with your name.

Pack all of your desk items together in one box.

Keep all similar items that are grouped in boxes together. For example, keep all math manipulatives in one box, all library books together, etc.

Mark important papers, cleaning supplies, tools, and decorating supplies together. Write a big “1” on the box so you’ll know to open it first – only put inside the stuff you’ll need right away.


Bonus Points – Prepare for Next School Year:

Prepare Back-to-School To-Do Lists.

Make copies of papers you know you’ll need in the fall.

Prepare forms for Back-to-School-Night.

Create a tentative floor plan for your desk, tables, student desks, computers, etc.

If you send student welcome letters, print them and gather envelopes and mailing addresses.

Prepare a supply list that you need for Back-to-School sales.

Purchase and laminate any new posters or classroom décor you’ll need in the fall.

I know this list is overwhelming. I hope sorting it into time frames keeps you on track and organized. 

When you start to feel like it’s too much, back off. Remember that it doesn’t all need to be done at once. Breathe. Find your happy place.

Ready for those FREE checklists I promised?

Click HERE to join my email list and download your FREE End-of-the-School-Year Checklists!

Did I forget anything? 

Please let me know what I forgot to add to these lists, and I’ll be sure to update the checklists!

Be sure to pin your favorite picture above so you can save it for next year!

Take care, Friend!

Do you want to read about setting up your Teaching Binder for next school year?

Ok – here’s the link to my article about how to set up and organize your teaching binders in an efficient and usable way. You’ll love this system!

Just promise that you’ll take some time for self-care!