Closing Up Shop: The End of the School Year

How to say goodbye, stay organized, and handle stress as the school year comes to a close.

By Bethany Stagliano

End School year sign

The end of the school year is often a bittersweet time for teachers. While the excitement of summer plans may fill your head, the stress that comes from closing up your classroom and preparing for the next year are ever-looming.

Saying Goodbye

The definitive end of the year can bring on tears of sadness and joy all at once. If you feel it, know that your students most likely feel it as well. The following are some ideas to make the last few days memorable:

  • Read aloud Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss. No matter what grade you teach, all young people will appreciate the theme of this beloved story.
  • Hand out reward certificates to every individual in your class. Silly or serious, attempt to tie in each reward with the subject that you teach. For example, the Bill Gates Award for a pupil who is adept at technology, or the Judy Blume Award for a student who loves to read.
  • Ask your pupils for help, and most will gladly give it. Provide cleaning cloths for use to wipe down desks and tables, and enlist assistance when packing up the classroom.
  • If you are in possession of any art supplies, posters, or books you know you will not use the following year, hold a raffle and give your class a chance to take them home.
  • Your students have spent every day of the school year with you, and for many, it will be difficult to say goodbye. Allow each one a chance to say farewell. Provide activities to give them an opportunity to reflect on their year with you.


It is beneficial for your career and well-being as a teacher to take time to reflect. Do it before the school year is up, as you may forget or not get around to it once summer arrives.

Jot down your finest moments from the year:

  • What made you most proud?
  • Was there an event that filled your heart with happiness?

Give yourself some constructive criticism:

  • Was there a tactic you used that seemingly failed?
  • What is something that you know you need to change for the following year?

Every teacher has something he/she needs to adjust. It is important to get organized and be aware of successes and failures in order to start out fresh in the fall.

Classroom Organization

While teachers are enjoying their summer break, cleaning crews are scrubbing every inch of every classroom. This is the reason why most schools require their teachers to pack up all their belongings. Here are some tips to stay organized so your first day back can be a breeze:

  • Pack like-items together. It may be easy to just throw everything in a box, but to make your life simpler when you go back, you must stay organized. For example, your classroom library should be in its own box, while science experiments, paper goods, art supplies, etc. are stored separately.
  • Create a “Need Right Away!” box and fill it with anything and everything you know you will need the first day. Some items most teachers will require include pens/pencils, paper, stapler, scissors, tape, and your lesson plan book.
  • Store your favorite lesson plans in a binder for easy access.
  • Seal and label all boxes or storage bins with your name, classroom number (if applicable), and contents. Take home anything of value.
  • Want your classroom to look the same way in the fall? Take a picture before you start packing!
  • Jot down a wish list of supplies and other items that you may need or want for the following year.
  • Write yourself a note of positive encouragement to be read your first day back. This may help to ease any stress by knowing, hey, you made it through last year!

Handling Stressors

The end of the year can be filled with various stress-inducing events, from preparing final grades to increased responsibilities and unclear expectations. Regardless of the specific reason, most teachers experience a high level of stress during those last few weeks. Here are some tips on handling those feelings:

  • Put on a happy face, especially when around your students. Sometimes the simple act of pretending to be in a good mood can put you in one.
  • Do not put too much on your plate. Time management of tasks is necessary.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Try to not stay up late into the night getting things done.
  • Talk with fellow teachers. Most, if not all, will be in the same boat as you are.
  • Give yourself some “me” time. Try to not spend hours in your classroom after school has ended.
  • Reminisce on all the fun and enjoyable memories of the school year!

Teachers play one of the most important roles in the lives of children. You have done a great job. Enjoy your summer—you deserve it!

Related Activities:

Thinking Ahead to Next Year

Pupils draft informative letters to the students who will take their place next year.

End of Year Reflection

Utilize this worksheet to help your class reflect on the school year.

Letter To My Teacher

Children use this worksheet to write a farewell letter to their teacher.