January 20, 2018

How to Move Classrooms and Remain Sane

This is my 4th year teacher and ironically my fourth classroom!! My first year of teaching, I taught H.S. Spanish (long story) in my husband's hometown in Pennsylvania. My second year, we moved to Virginia where I got my job teaching Kindergarten. Even though I stayed at the same school, I got moved to a new classroom my 3rd year. And for my fourth year, I got a Kindergarten job in the same town that we bought our home in (yay for 4 minute commutes!).

I plan to stay at this school - but that doesn't mean I won't ever have to move classrooms inside of it!

Because of all of my frequent moves, I came up with a grand plan on how to move classrooms and keep my sanity.

.....my husband would tell you that my "keep my sanity" part of my plan has never worked! Haha! I think there is always some stress to moving no matter what.


I have found great ways to pack so unpacking is easy. I have found great ways to label so moving in is a breeze. I have created systems that set you up for success!

So here we go!

1. The first thing you need to do BEFORE YOU EVER EVEN PACK A BOX is completely organize your classroom. I'm naturally OCD so this comes extremely easy to me, however, if you aren't, I suggest you take it a shelf, cupboard, or space at a time. When my classroom starts to get messy, I take one space each day and fix it up so by the end of the week, it's back to normal!

2. I have EVERYTHING stored in containers. Everything has a place or a container that holds it or a binder that binds it or ...you get the point. You can see in this pic of me and my lovely parents (who saved the day for me this school year!) That behind us are my storage shelves that hold essentially EVERYTHING. In my old classroom, I had all those plastic file containers in cupboards behind closed doors. My new classroom lacks some storage so we got creative! I love it!

These storage bins have been a life saver. I have every unit labeled (sometimes bins can share two smaller units) and I slowly bought them over the past two years so it wouldn't be a huge expense out of my pocket. It has come in handy when I'm ready to plan with my team (just grab the bin!) or when a teammate borrows something (just grab the bin!) or when they have a question and want to know some ideas (just grab the bin!) or when I'm trying to plan..you get it, just grab the bin! It has also helped me keep my classroom less cluttered with papers or activities we are done with!

You can buy the storage containers that I use here on Amazon! I highly recommend them - they fit file folders perfectly and large gallon ziploc baggies for any activities!


3. Now that you have everything organized, cleaned up, and in a container of some sort - this is where the packing comes in! I usually start getting boxes from the cafeteria ladies and the janitors, as soon as I know I'm moving! I pack up by sections of my room because chances are - no matter the layout of my next room - I'm going to probably want things in general proximity to the things that are near them now! I pack up corners and sections and then leave about 5 boxes labeled "Random". These are for the things like stickers (that I leave in different places around my room), pencils, pens, random stuff that I find after I'm done packing, any unfinished (GASP!) projects or papers I'm working on, etc. Those random boxes are a bear to unpack....A BEAR. But I feel like they must exist.

4. Next is moving and storing it! Luckily, when you move classrooms within schools it's no big deal to move boxes! Typically the janitorial staff will help you out and you can walk into your new room and your boxes have magically appeared there. But when you change schools or districts, you aren't so lucky. Thankfully, I had a garage and a jeep. Every morning, I would get to school early and load up boxes (We have to be out the last day of school - so I had to pack/clean up and teach and insanity) into the Jeep, every afternoon I would take a Jeep load home and unload it into my garage. Praise Jesus for that garage! We would've needed a storage unit!

(My husband had one request when I asked if my classroom could live in the garage..."As long as I can get to the lawnmower." WHAT A TROOPER!)

5. Finally, you've made it to your new space! DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT start unpacking before you've cleaned up your new space. Chances are...your new space probably has some (or a TON of) left over stuff from the prior teacher in it. Or some furniture. Or the Janitors came in to deep clean and the furniture is in a pile similar to Mt. Kilimanjaro. OR all of the above. ^^^ 

Speaking from experience, I may have jumped the gun one year and tried to unpack and clean and move furniture and sort through the old teacher's stuff  and decorate all at the same time and I may have cried a lot and been extremely upset and decided that unpacking was stupid and did I really even want to be a teacher and what was I doing with my life and unpacking and setting up my classroom took me 8 weeks for no reason.


Here's my advice. Take time just to be in your new classroom space. Give it an opportunity to sink in. Put yourself in a teaching perspective. I always ask myself, where's the door? Where can I seat myself so I can always see the door? How do I want it to flow from there? Where/how do I need access to my teaching materials?

FULL HONESTY: Even teachers who aren't moving are spending a ton of time in their classroom before school starts getting everything ready, setting up, and decorating. By following these simple things, you can make moving and unpacking a breeze so you can focus on other stuff - like decorating and preparing for the first day!

Alright teacher friends, I hope you aren't moving now - it's January! But I hope if you have too or if you are considering, you will use my tips to help you out!

P.S. Another way that I LOVE to store any manipulatives is using these! The clear containers are perfectly square and an easy visual for my students!

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