5 Things to do BEFORE Summer Vacation

You must think I've lost my mind. Why make our end-of-year checklist LONGER?

The countdown to summer vacation is my most frantic time of the year, tied with Back to School season. Grading assignments, grading final exams, cleaning up the classroom, making report cards, and all of our end-of-year traditions and field trips make May and early June a CRAZY time.

Despite the chaos, I'm ADDING five more WORTHY things to my to-do list. I have never regretted squeezing these in.

#1: Gather examples of student work
I'm growing a milk crate with file folders full of student work, divided by assignment type, and asking students to "donate" their old/unwanted work back to me. Some students donate their original copy back to me (which is better than them throwing it out), and others give me permission to print or scan a copy that I can then file.

Next year, I'll have more examples of student work to show my students, and I might be able to pull from the crate if I ever need student examples for professional reasons.

#2: Make a tangible memory (or review) item
When/if we have time, I love making either a memory item for me to keep, OR a memory book of some sort for students. For me, I've sometimes had an entire class sign a book or a picture for me to remember them by. For students, I've usually done some variation of a whole-year review - on the informal end, we've done things like typing an epic list of things we've learned this year in a shared Google doc (that I then distribute as a PDF), and on the formal side, we've made digital memory books/ mock literary magazines that featured one piece of writing from each student.

If you need a FREE way to get started, try my end of semester review activity.

#3: Give a student survey
I use Google Forms to give a (free) survey to all classes. I typically make them anonymous but coach them to be BOTH kind AND honest in their word choices when making comments.

This year, some of the questions included:
  • Rating how much they LIKED and LEARNED FROM the short stories and novels we read. (It's important to make those two separate questions!)
  • Assignment-specific feedback (ex: what they thought of specific projects, how much they learned from certain assignments, how I can make the vocabulary program better, etc.)
  • On a scale of 1-5, how much they feel they have grown as ______ (writers, readers, etc.)
  • Opinion questions about room setup, my teaching style, and the class overall
  • How prepared they feel for 8th grade/ high school
  • Questions about balance and favorites: most/least favorite elements of ELA, if there's anythign they wanted more/less of, in what areas I have (or have not) helped them the most, what should stay the same, and any final feedback overall. 

#4: Write down my "next year" goals
Based on that survey feedback (and the things I've been considering anyway), I make lists of things to change and keep NOW, while it's fresh on my mind. Though I'll have more time later, I might not remember the classroom management and/or curriculum issues that I want to work on before next year.

#5: Make the summer to-do list
Make separate personal and professional to-do lists. I know some people have strict philosophies about not doing TOO much school work over the summer, which I fully respect, but I need to write things down (and even pencil some in to my schedule) before I forget them. My summer is exponentially more satisfying if I feel accomplished AND relaxed in August.

Bonus: Updating my TpT Wish List!
If you haven't explored your TpT Wish List lately, do it now! Update it with items you want to think about this summer, especially if you have schedule or prep changes. Even if you're teaching the same classes next year, browse TpT for a bit while the school year is fresh on your mind, thinking about ways to save time or energy next year.

Whether you're already finished or still have several weeks to go, Happy Summer!


  1. I agree with keeping samples of student work. Sometimes it is helpful to have samples to show future classes of what a completed project will look like. Plus, they can make great classroom decor.

    1. Agreed - thank you! I'm trying to do a better job of saving different levels of quality too, so students notice the difference between what will and will not meet different rubric expectations. :-)

  2. Such a great list! Love #2! Thank you!