Pack up your troubles

Pack up your troubles

A blog where I mine my experiences of the end of year ‘pack-up and preparations’ with a few quick tips to ensure you get the most out of your summer holiday. Oh, and a tenuous link to one of the most notorious football kits ever.

The end of the academic year is almost upon us and with it comes the annual classroom tidy-up and pack away. As the old saying goes, “It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it…”

Be ruthless – if you’ve not used it in three years, the chances are that you’re not going to. Tough I know. A couple of summers ago I finally sent my old Junior Education magazines to the paper bank. They were great resources: at the time (circa 1995 – 2000). However, there have been goodness knows how many reinterpretations of the National Curriculum since then and even the gorgeous topic posters look dated by today’s standards.

But not too ruthless – if you still keep a paper diary (and I do), don’t throw it out just yet. I‘ve lost count of how many times I’ve needed to go back through my diary to check the dates of: a course I attended; meetings I’ve had with colleagues or parents; or to help determine which week should be set-by for the disco/school fayre/trip because it had worked so well last time.

Get ahead of yourself – if there’s time on the last day of term, consider a local embargo on the child labour laws by asking some willing children to sort out the felt-pens, stick the labels onto next year’s textbooks and run errands to the office in a vain attempt to beat the annual European black-sack famine. You may not want to run off a set of book labels on the penultimate night of term but it sure beats doing it during the summer holiday.

Pack up your troubles

Coventry City Brown Away Kit. Source: The Independent.

And get ahead of the pack – avoid the stock cupboard bun fight by choosing your backing paper and borders NOW! This way you get the gorgeous colours you want and not that 1970s-Coventry-City-away-kit shade of brown. Once you’ve selected your backing paper, get it up. I used to back my September display boards in July and then pin that slurry-coloured sugar paper over the top so that they didn’t fade. The aforementioned slurry-coloured paper would fade in the summer sun but it didn’t stop it being a godsend for cutting-up into sentence strips for those oh-so-essential practical grammar lessons.

Schedule the days you will go into school – of course you don’t have to go in but most of us do. Whether it’s the beginning or end of the holidays get it in the diary, make a list of what you want to achieve and stick to it! Be realistic. My experiences of working in school during the holidays are akin to a fracture in the space-time continuum. That is, several lost hours whilst I stood dazed and staring, completely unable to decide what should go where. Only to change it all in September when I realised that Liam shouldn’t sit within touching distance of Callum and that Sarah and Joanne should only ever be seated on opposite sides of the room. Experience has also taught me to pack a drink and a snack as there won’t be milk in the staffroom and if there are any biscuits left they are likely to have gone soft.

And finally, when you’ve packed-up all your troubles, plan for a bit of ‘me time’. You’ve given of yourself all day every day for a whole school year so plan a bit of time just for yourself. How do I plan for ‘me time’?

Me time = reading time – having time to read what you want to read is almost impossible during term time. As you get closer the summer, make a plan of 5 or 6 books you’d like to read before getting back to school. Don’t feel the pressure to read only worthy and literary books. I try to rotate my reading, particularly when I know I’ve got a lovely long stretch of potential reading time ahead of myself. My rota goes something like this: something instant and easy such as a crime novel or thriller, a children’s or young adult book, a literary book or a classic, something factual. It doesn’t always work but it helps.

So, get that old kit-bag out and stuff it full of your troubles so that you can go and enjoy the summer holidays.

Further time-saving and organisational blog posts you may find of interest are:

Back to School: Saving Time and Getting Things Done

It’s all about the Preparation

Rachel Clarke: Director – Primary English

All content on the Primary English website is owned by Rachel Clarke and is protected by copyright.

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  1. Jo Badge

    Great post and much needed! Thank you. I have a wonderful TA who is already on the case for most of these jobs and am lucky enough to have PPA all day this Friday with my new colleague to get started on next year’s plans 🙂 I’ll be loading up my kindle this weekend too!

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