Where Do I Begin?
The easiest place to start is from within. You need to feel comfortable in your classroom.
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Albert Einstein
- Start With Your Desk
The first thing to consider is your own work area. This is the hub of the classroom and needs to be organized to your liking.
Position your desk so you can see the classroom, and try to keep the items on your desk to a minimum. You want to model good managing skills for the students.
- Bins are the Best
You can find small bins that hold a few pencils, to large bins that can hold a few first graders, at most department or home improvement stores.
Only put what you truly need in the desk drawers. All too often the desk, both top and insides can become a garbage dump of sorts for anything and everything.
- Keep a Routine
It is no secret that a routine is the best course of action when it comes to managing and organizing the classroom. The first day of school is when the routines begin, but you need to know before school starts how you want the room to run.
- Drying Racks
If you are teaching art or classes where you do crafts or paint use hanging drying racks. These help immensely in keeping the room neat along with keeping the projects safe. It also ensures the paint will dry evenly.
- Plan Your Week Ahead of Time
Many school systems want lesson plans turned in to the administrator before the start of the next week. When doing your plans, use color-coded folders to help keep track of your days. For instance, blue is for Monday, green for Tuesday, and so forth.
In each folder, you can have the day’s plans, worksheets, ideas, or anything else that is needed for the day, right at your fingertips. Make extra copies of worksheets, too, because someone will invariably lose theirs within four minutes of receiving one. Folders will also help a substitute teacher work through her day.
- Make a “Where is It?” List
When you file items in a cabinet, drawer, desk, or bin, take the time to write down where you placed it. Using an Excel spreadsheet can help you do this. Label your column A as “item”, then columns B and so on are where the item might be found.
- Keep Student Information Handy
Index cards are an invaluable source of organizing help in the classroom. These, along with an alphabetized insert, will enable you to keep track of students’ birthdays, phone numbers, addresses, emails, best to time call their parents, and their allergies if they have any.
You can also keep track of their likes, dislikes, days absent, and what they succeed at doing. You can also take notes of what intervention they appear to need in order to discuss it with parents at conferences.
- Write it Down
Many children are visual learners, and it helps to write on the board what the day’s schedule entails. This will allow them to know what book needs to be ready at what time and should help transitions be easier on everyone during the day.
- Eliminate Messes
So, that probably made you laugh as we all know it is impossible to eliminate messes in the classroom, but you can make it easier on yourself and everyone with a few routines and imagination.
(This article/text/quote/image is shared in good spirit to strengthen the education system.)