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10 Tasks for a Fresh Spring Start

By Lindsey Petlak on April 1, 2014
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Whether you’re staying home over spring break or just returning, this post highlights my laundry list of 10 to-do tasks for spring cleaning and organization, as well as a plan to inspire, revamp, and rejuvenate. Kick spring off right with a fresh start!

1) Office Overhaul

Remember my posts from the beginning of the year about my extreme classroom makeover (Part 1, Part 2)? Well, I ran out of time to continue that overhaul into my class office area. It is currently an absolute disaster. Literally, it has become the dumping ground for anything and everything, and I avoid it at all costs. It’s time to clean it up and revamp it into a fab new office space, not to mention organize my materials and files therein. Check back for future posts about my office space overhaul! Get a horrifying look at its current condition above, and a sneak peek of my inspiration by following my Pinterest Office Space board below. Share your bright and cheery office space inspiration, too!


2) Classroom Scrub-Down

Are the never-ending rounds of various “creepin'-crud” flu bugs continuing to plague your school like they are ours? Despite the fact that we wipe our desks, light switches, door handles, and other commonly shared surfaces on a daily basis, illness is still running rampant in my classroom and the entire school. I think what our room needs is a major scrub-down with windows open, letting the clean cool breezes of spring blow away the winter ickiness. My rubber gloves and cleaning supplies are ready to go. Take a day or an afternoon after your students leave to rid your class of those pesky germs!


3) Conference Follow-Up

  • Our spring conferences were a huge success, thanks to the Pinterest-inspired class work display, and student ePortfolios we showcased, both of which I blogged about. Now it’s time for me to follow-up with parents via feedback opportunities.

  • I send out a post-conference survey to our parents asking about any topics not covered in conferences that they wish to have addressed.

  • Upon receiving feedback, I’ll use my break time to plan a proper response via phone call or email.

  • Based on commonly discussed topics at conferences or in feedback surveys, I may create blog posts on our classroom website to answer such topics on a wider level.

Do you have post-conference follow-up routines?


4) Supplies S.O.S.

I don’t know about you, but my kiddos are running dangerously low on multiple categories of school supplies. 

  • Before leaving for break, I had students take inventory of needed supplies.

  • Students crafted emails and/or used paper checklists to pass along the information about what they need to their parents for easy pick-up during the break.

  • Over break, I’ll send out reminders to purchase and return school supplies via ClassMessenger.

  • Should there be whole-class supplies needed (such as antibacterial wipes or tissues), I’ll send out an S.O.S. request message using SignUpGenius.

Use these tech tools to communicate and collect much-needed supplies for your students and classroom!


5) Portfolios

In my post about student digital portfolios, I highlighted everything I loved about creating, adding to, and showcasing student work and providing authentic feedback using Nureva digital portfolio software. Now it’s time to take our portfolios to the next level in the final trimester of this school year.

  • I need to check back for any incomplete rubrics or projects not submitted by students.

  • Looking ahead, I’m excited to plan and input upcoming projects and assignments, complete with Common Core State Standards-aligned digital rubrics.

  • Parents have been given the homework assignment of looking over their child’s portfolio and leaving comments/questions for their child or me before the end of break. I can’t wait to read their responses!

Are you working on end-of-year portfolios?  If so, what format do you use? Please share!


6) TIME for Curriculum Close-Up

What do teachers need most, but have the least of? TIME. With our daily schedules, meetings, changes in curriculum, new tasks and technologies streaming our way 24/7, time to truly plan our curriculum and lessons is minimal. I can’t wait to dig into some final trimester planning over break. Here’s a preview of what’s on my list of planning over break:

  • This week I attended a Next Generation Science Standards training and am super pumped and inspired. I want to plan NGSS-aligned, inquiry-based projects for our upcoming sound waves, rocks and minerals, and farming units over break.

  • We are wrapping up our tour of the Midwest at the end of April, so I have lots to plan and most likely much to share in future blog posts for my “home” region!

  • Our class of cruisin’ kids is headed westward as we explore the west and southwest regions in our final trimester.

If you have great ideas and resources for these regions, please share in the comments!


7) Scholastic Month-by-Month Site

Have you seen Scholastic's amazing new (still in Beta) site? If not, you must check it out! Over my spring break, I can’t wait to check out the freshest ideas for April! I plan to write a full blog post providing a tour of this fab resource, but for now, take a peek and let your fingers scroll and flip through links, free downloads, book suggestions, lesson plans, clipart, videos, and more. 



8) New Apps/Sites Exploration

Recently I’ve been catching glimpses of fantastic new apps and sites that I’m anxious to try out in my classroom. Some are free, and others are low-cost. I have an App Store gift card just burning a hole in my pocket! Below are just a few I plan to investigate over break in order to imagine countless uses for them once they are introduced to my students.




9) Catching Up on Top Teaching Blog Posts

If you’re like me, you love reading teacher blog posts, but in the midst of a hectic workweek and busy family weekends, it’s often difficult to find the time to keep up with the reading! I can’t wait to catch up on posts from my fellow Top Teaching bloggers. Every post I read from these amazing educators inspires me. Be sure to follow us by subscribing to our individual blog RSS feeds so that you’re always in the loop with our Top Teaching tips and posts.


10) Put Your Oxygen Mask on FIRST

Teachers take care of others all day long. If you’re a parent, you also come home to loved ones you take care of. We all do this with a loving heart and without grudge, but teachers often forget to take care of THEMSELVES. Just like on an airplane you should always put YOUR oxygen mask on before helping others. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be as effective with your family or students. Despite the (rather long) laundry list of to-do items over my break, I’m spending some time relaxing and taking care of myself, too.


My “put your oxygen mask on first” wish list for spring break:

  • Pinterest binge (Need I say more? Hours will be consumed with this one!)

  • Date night out with my hubby (good food, good company)

  • Tons of time with my fave little guy, Grayson

  • Manicure/pedicure (seriously, winter has not been kind to my nails)

  • Massage (teachers are tense and need those knots worked out!)

  • Hit the gym (I found an amazing new dance class!)

  • Sleep in (. . . at least past 6:30 a.m.!)

  • Catch up on favorite TV shows (like Scandal)

  • Time outside (. . . if our snow ever fully melts and the weather warms up)


Will I check everything off of my spring break to-do list? We shall see. Hopefully, I’ll at least finish a large chunk and do some self-pampering too. If you already had spring break, what were some school and self to-do list goals you actually achieved? If you haven’t yet, what are your goals?

How did you spring clean and plan ahead?  Please share!

Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

Comments (2)

I love the "oxygen mask" tips, Lindsey! I'm working on that part at the moment from Florida. :) Thanks for the reminder to step away from the curriculum guides. :)

Sorry to just now be replying!! I didn't see your comment until now. Florida = awesome! How was it?? Did you get in some relaxation and leisure?? Hope your spring break was fabulous and that the end of the school year is going well for you, too!

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