I've always been one to teach up until the absolute last minute of class. It doesn't help that I tend to over plan - although that is better than the alternative (under planning = a teacher's worst nightmare). I am always rushing to fit one more thing in, which I know is just a bad idea - the students are confused, they're stressed, I'm stressed, and I'll forget to tell them something or do something that NEEDED to happen. Even when I started to make a point of stopping five minutes before the bell at the end of class last year, I still could never seem to remember to make sure my room was put back together and that I had passed back papers to everyone. As I've mentioned before, organization is not something that comes naturally to me.
It was so much easier passing back papers in fifth grade - I had a mailbox system and a classroom job to take care of that (and it helped that I only had 18 students). Last year, my first year in middle school, when I only saw the students every other day and for 90 minutes at a time is just never seemed to happen. I'm ashamed to admit that I literally ended last year with a pile of papers from each class at least 2 inches high that never got handed back. I know, I know - this is bad on so many levels.
On top of the growing piles of papers, my classroom was always a disaster when students left - scraps of paper on the floor; scissors, glue sticks and calculators scattered around the room; and when I did remember to hand those papers back I would find those all over the place as well! It was a mess, and I was stressed. I feel like it's easier to get elementary aged students to take ownership of the classroom because they're in there all day long - middle schoolers and high schoolers can peace out to the next room.
I knew what I wanted to happen in the last five minutes of the class, but for the life of me, when we got there I could only get the first two done - homework written down in planners, and planners signed. I found last year that even though I told students to write their homework down that unless I signed it, I had about 50% of my class who just didn't. Even after checking them for months, I still had about 10% who wouldn't get out their planners until I was at their desk ready to sign it.
Then, my saving grace, pintrest! I kept seeing all these really cute posters about 1 minute countdown or 3 minute countdown. I knew I needed more than 3 minutes, so I made a 'Last 5 Minutes of Class' list. I was getting really tired of trying to make cute posters for my classroom (I'll show you some of the other ones I made later), when I found out our school has a poster maker! How did I not know this??
So, I made this beauty with PowerPoint - now, both the kids and I have a visual reminder of everything that needs to happen, and it has worked like a charm! Papers are being passed back, planners are signed, AND my classroom is clean and tidy! It is funny when they all say thank you to someone for their help - a lot of times they are all just yelling out thank you to no one in particular! We need to work on that still. :)
How do you remember to get everything done in the last few minutes of class? What tricks of the trade do you use to get papers passed back and to keep your classroom tidy?