Thursday, June 7, 2018

Classroom Organization

If you follow me on IG, then you already know this topic was requested by so many teachers. It's no surprise that we all need a little motivation around the summer time to feel geared up and ready to take on the new school year in August!

In my previous schools, I had quite the reputation of being the "organized" and "simple" teacher who had everything she needed but maintained the classroom in somewhat of a fun yet neat environment all day long & all year long. Of course, when the super fun activities come around every so often, the class can get a bit messy but I always taught my students that an "organized space" was a "happy space." 😉
Teacher Binder
Every teacher has a binder, planner, clipboard, or other way of keeping track of all of the important events in school, field trips memos, lesson plans, etc. I had my Teacher Binder organized by topic as seen above in the 1st and 2nd picture:
  • Lesson Plans
  • Pacing Guides
  • CCSS/NGSSS (Common Core State Standards & Next Generation Science Standards)
  • ELL Strategies
  • Miscellaneous Information
The teachers in my school were asked to maintain all of these components visible at your desk for observation and lesson planning purposes. Given that you have to refer to the standards for various content areas, it is very helpful to have them already in your binder when you're planning. Additionally, in the "Misc. Info" section, I kept a copy of the school calendar, parent permission slips, media release forms, allergy information, and other important things to note throughout the school year. 

Teacher Portfolio/Inspo
So, this is one of my favorite organization tips for the classroom. We, as teachers, can spend so much time and effort on our students, classrooms, with the parents and administration and we often need a reminder as to why we are in the class in the first place. One of my amazing mentors suggested to me (before my career began) that I maintain an *INSPIRATION* binder. I would later refer to it during the school year to see all the beautiful comments my students and parents had made to me, worthy quotes, drawings of the kiddos and I, and class photos we had taken on special occasions or just because. This really motivated me and kept me going all year long with my amazing students! 💝

Table Caddies
These table caddies are EVERYTHING!! I've used them to store all classroom supplies in my small group table, independent center tables, art area, library (library cards or bookmarks), and student group desks, as well (link attached to picture - Amazon). They are very durable, come in all bright primary/secondary colors, and can fit so many materials neatly while being accessible to all students simultaneously.

Student Desks
Question of the day: How many different ways can you display student desks?
Answer: SOOO MANY!
While an excellent layout of student desks can be visually appealing, it also makes the room look neat and organized and it can provide an ease of traffic flow throughout the various parts of the classroom. In my former school, I taught departmentalized classes which means I taught 3 content areas to 2 groups each day and the students would switch classes with my partner at midday. Given that I had 2 groups of students coming in and out of my class each day, I had to figure out a way to store their textbooks so that they would not get mixed up with another student's, stay clean and in good condition AND have them readily available and accessible to my kiddos each day.

Therefore, I decided to teach my students to place their textbooks, workbooks and journals in the following manner inside their desks:
  • AM class: on the left
  • PM class: on the right
My students LOVED this system and were so responsible with their belongings because they now had a sense of pride and ownership for their materials. 😍

Library
I will be writing a more in-depth blog post about creating the ideal and *PERFECT* classroom library soon but I wanted to give you an idea on how to keep it organized throughout the entire year. I implemented these rules each year with my students (that's right... WITH them because some of these were their ideas, too 😉).
  1. Place shoes on the bin next to the carpet
  2. Be gentle and kind with our books and bins
  3. Return pillows to the corner when you finish using them
Among other rules we had in place, these were the main ones that caught their attention as well as all of our visitors (we had observation windows and in-class visits frequently). Our guests really enjoyed seeing the children read quietly, share books and laugh all the while the library was very neat and well kept.

Small Group/DI Centers
This is one of the storage caddies I utilized in my kidney table to store my DI center/small group materials (link attached to picture - Amazon). In the drawers, I stored writing utensils, paper, art materials, leveled reader books, whiteboards, and more. My DI center never seemed too crowded with extra supplies or messy because I also had a bin that stored the students' work after it was completed as well as file folder games and manipulatives.

Filing Cabinet (AKA "The Unknown")
How many of us have a different name for the infamous "Filing Cabinet?" 🤣We sure do love it, though.. when it's clean! I recommend getting some small storage bins from a dollar store and grouping objects in these bins in any order you'd like. It is by far the simplest method to tackle this monster! I usually place the curriculum guides any other heavy boxes in the lower shelves so I can simply drag them out without busting an eye or hitting my knee hurting myself.

Teacher's Desk
On my teacher's desk, I had a paper sorter (you can use any kind) that had laminated file folders with the days of the week covers. I would sort any books, flashcards, worksheets or sub plans in these folders the Friday before each new week began so that I was ready to begin my Monday mornings without rushing. I also had an additional paper sorter that contained the following stacks:
  • Grade
  • File
  • Copy
  • Later
These were very helpful because I knew exactly where everything needed to go, it helped me prioritize tasks (Teacher Ninja here 💥) and there were never any messes or stacks of paper laying on my desk. Remember, an "organized space" is a "happy space." 😉

Feel free to share your class organization tips below or drop any questions you may have!


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