We have all had to do it, it’s inevitable. You pack up everything you’ve so lovingly placed (hoarded) in your room for the past however many years and get ready to start new. The first time I had to do this I was switching schools. It’s how I found my home in Room 210. However, if you are reading this now, then I have already shared that my home away from home is no longer in Room 210, but Room 120. Which is how Anchored in Learning moved from just my blog to my Instagram.
Anyways, I am now lucky enough to have to pack up and move during the middle of a pandemic. While our whole district is being redistricted. Everything is being moved as we enter the classrooms. We can only go in by ourselves. We can’t go shopping for moving supplies. We were told we start with twenty boxes (did I mention hoarding?) update they gave us unlimited boxes which is a good thing, I had like forty. Oh, and we can only work in assigned three-hour periods update we stayed in three-hour periods but could double up some days. Holy stress balls. (Yeah, I said it)
However, I am NOT complaining.
Instead, I am sharing. This is life. This is the hand I have been dealt. Plus, with everything going on in the world right now (yeah, I am talking about you Coronavirus) I have been feeling rather lucky. I know I’ll get through it (somehow) but I am going to share all my tips along the way.
Isn’t it the Boy Scouts who say “Always be Prepared”?
This seems obvious at first, but I really want to dive into this one. I officially start packing my room tomorrow, (by the time I post this it will be done) but I am getting ready for packing today. First off, I am coming packed. What does that mean exactly? I am bringing my labels (more on that later), packing tape, a sharpie, and a good pair of scissors. Having this ready to go and not having to pull it out when I get there saves me time.
Next, I have my outfit planned. Seems silly right? Well, I know that the weather tomorrow is going to be 82˚ and sunny which means my room will feel around 90˚. Comfy shorts, a t-shirt, and sneakers will be my #OOTD. I also am self-conscious and remember that I’m in school, so I make sure nothing is too short or too tight. I want to move quickly with ease.
First Things First, Label EVERYTHING
I mean EVERYTHING. Now listen, I am a fan of all things cutesy. But when it comes to moving, if the custodians at your school are kind enough to help you, they don’t need to look at cutesy pictures and scripty fonts. Also, they don’t need to read chicken scratch. Print “Move to Room ____” with your name underneath on bright paper so it stands out. It helps to keep it all on the same color paper. This way everyone who sees these labels associates it with your class.
Speaking of labels, make them ahead of time. No need to search for uncapped sharpies as you pack, making them ahead of time saves you sharpies and time. Make them in different sizes and have them ready to go when you walk in your door. You can see some of mine and download them by clicking the picture below.
My first session will start with labeling the big stuff, I start with labeling so that I can wrap my head around what’s in the room, and I can start figuring out what I want to keep and what I want to purge. I inherited a LOT in the past few years, so I am planning on purging more than I keep. While I label, I start planning my process. How will I pack it all up, what sections I will make, etc.
When you do start packing, and I promise you will get there I found a system that worked well! I actually discussed it with my custodians because I wanted to make sure it worked for everyone. They loved the tags, but they mentioned label the top AND side(s) of your boxes. This way if they are wheeling them down they don’t have to pick up each box. Then put your labels in the corner for yourself. You can download the file by clicking the picture below!
Map Your Space
Okay, TBH when I move, it CAN get messy. If I don’t have a plan in place, I will go in circles so maybe this post is more for me than you. What I do to avoid this is I designate areas of my room. I choose an area for where I will put any finished boxes, an area for where miscellaneous items will go that I find throughout the process, and I plan for ample trash cans full of stuff. Hi, my name’s Kate and I am a purge-er. Now that I have all of this done, I am ready to pack.
Time to Pack!
Okay, this one is tricky because we are all different packers. When I go on a trip, I am an over packer, when I pack up my room…well this is how I do it.
I am starting with my classroom library. Why? Because I want to start off feeling successful. Packing a library feels somewhat easy. Books go straight into boxes and they fit rather easily. Now in a normal school year, students empty their book boxes BEFORE the year ends, yet this pandemic ruined that. So, I will empty book boxes first and put them in piles by their bin (I number my library). That way I am not putting them away then packing them up. Since my book bins are numbered, I will pack them away by number, as I get through each bin, I will add in my students’ books that never made it back home. This way when I set them up in the summer, they are all organized. I made little labels to attach to each box that say library and my name. This way when I am unpacking, I can easily sort out which boxes should move where. I did find that I had a little room in each box, to leave no space unfilled I filled these spots with bookmarks, fidgets, anything that wouldn’t be harmed if books slid against them while moving.
I moved to bulletin boards and whiteboards next, for no other reason than the custodians were taking everything off the walls to prep for painting. Some things had been ripped and things were sticking to each other with tape that wouldn’t make it after separating. I mentioned before balling on a budget and I do reuse my borders year to year, so I wanted those to stay safe. I have three bulleting boards for my room, and they are all different sizes. I chose to put all the borders in the same border saver box I had handed down to me. Then each of the cloths I used for a background was labeled what bulletin board it was on (so I have a starting place size wise when I move into my new room). Finally, all the letters I was saving went into small Ziplock bags that I wrote exactly what they spelled out on it. I knew a move was coming this year, so I didn’t purchase too much for reusable decorations for my boards, but I did have up a smallish life preserver and I put that along with all the little bags to pack with my desk tools. I know I will unpack my desk first, and I will want to move to that next.
Speaking of desk, I am looking at my desk next. I used to start each year with new supplies on my desk, until I learned that its much easier to share year to year since I am balling on a budget (kidding but not really). So, I will put everything in bags by category and put them in boxes. I put pens in one bag, markers in another, dry erase markers in another, etc. I do this for pretty much anything that can fall out and be a pain to clean up. I should mention here that if it looks like crap-then it is crap, and I toss crap in the trash. If it’s not trash it goes into its box and is labeled. I like to make sure this box is packed nicely because its typically what I unpack first.
Next stop, manipulatives. I don’t know about you, but I have TONS. I’m also pretty attached to using them since I teach inclusion. So, I dump them out of their storage containers (we must put it in boxes to be moved) and put them into bags. This way I can fit more manipulatives into boxes, stay on my custodians’ good side, and it gives me a fresh start in the fall.
With manipulatives I pack up learning games. I could talk for days about learning games, and that being said you should know I have a lot. The tricky thing about packing games is that I truly am playing a game of Tetris. I LOVED Tetris as a kid; as an adult packing…well I love a challenge. As I am packing manipulatives and learning games, I find those little things in my room that fit the holes.
After manipulatives I move to all my supplies for the pure reason, I pack them the same way. I keep supplies in labeled bins through the year, but the bins are not moving friendly. So, I empty my supplies into bags (that way I can just put them right back in quickly) and put the supplies in the box.
After that I move through all things curriculum. This includes science materials, textbooks, guided reading, etc. I split everything up by subject as I pack. Maybe this isn’t the most efficient way to pack, but for me it helps when I put things away as I move into my new room. There isn’t much science to this are of my room though. I think its best to look at what you have and pack it the best way you possibly can fit it all.
Now we get to the part I found most tricky. The end.
You see this is where I felt I had more miscellaneous items and I didn’t have a true order. Rather than stressing about the order, I looked at my items in groupings. I had all the big stuff packed at this point so what I really looked at was what belonged together and how I would unpack it.
Truth be told, I also didn’t want to stay in one place at this point, so I had a lot of boxes open at once until they were full.
The following groups included…
- Sink Items
- Plastic bags/silverware/plates/etc.
- Takeover day materials
- Art supplies
- Recess games
- Electronics and Cords
Now for full disclosure, my packing system didn’t always feel perfect. I was OVERWHELMED. However, this is what worked for me, and I hope it works for you too. Little opportunities totally presented themselves as I packed (like moving my book boxes to my room) so there was definitely breaks, stress, and “What am I doing??” in between. Please just remember, it all gets done. You’ll get through it.
If you have questions for me, please, please, please reach out! I feel like I was so tired finishing packing that I might have missed something you wanted to know. I will respond and edit as needed!