The school supplies that line the store shelves serve as a reminder that the beginning of a new school year is just weeks away. That’s right. Bid farewell to summer. Before long, kids will be waking up early to begin the school routine.
For all the teachers that are already making preparations for the school year ahead, I want to help you get started right and stay on track during the entire year. I polled some teachers about their biggest challenges and hope to offer some tips that will help make your classroom run more smoothly.
Here are some things to consider as you prepare your classroom for another year:
1. Last year’s stuff. Before you even try to organize your room for another year, take time to ruthlessly purge your room. Just like purging your house, make sure you get rid of things you don’t want, need or will never use again. Check your supply closet and get rid of broken crayons and rulers, dried up markers and glue, and any games or puzzles missing pieces. If you are fortunate enough to have a filing cabinet, you will want to take a hard look at what you are storing in it. A filing cabinet can be a great way to keep yourself organized, but you may be limited on space within it if you are holding on to papers you have had for years. Teaching materials change and there is no reason to hold onto outdated material thinking you will one day use it again. Get rid of the old so that you can make room for the new.
2. Space restrictions. There never seems to be enough storage space in a classroom so you have to make the most of every inch of space. The more you can hang, the better. Installing something as simple as hooks where students can hang coats or book bags can help keep things off the floor and the room organized.
3. Student ID numbers. Probably the most commonly used method of organization to benefit both the teacher as well as students is issuing each student an ID number that they use throughout the year. Their student ID number should be used on all of their papers and coincide with number on their textbooks. This helps everyone stay organized.
4. Missing assignments. How many times have you searched and searched for an assignment from a student only to find out they never turned it in? Here is an idea to help: Create a form for “no homework/assignments turned in” and place it somewhere in the room that the students are familiar with. When they don’t turn in an assignment, make them fill out this form and turn it in so you won’t spend time looking for something that simply is not there. This form should include both their name and student ID number. Have several options for the kids to check as to the reason they did not have their assignment. For example, “I lost my work, I was absent when assignment was given, the dog ate it.” This form will come in handy at parent/teacher conferences.
5. Classroom traffic flow. One challenge every teacher faces is setting up the desks. Should they go in a straight line, be grouped in pairs, shaped like a horseshoe? Remember that the goal is not to see what shape you can come up with, but that the flow of the room runs smoothly. Place desks with traffic flow in mind. Always remember to place teacher’s desk away from the students’ desks for obvious reasons.
6. Student supplies. When storing your room supplies, keep in mind the importance of organizing things at the appropriate height for the children. Students should be able to reach the supplies without needing to interrupt you to do it for them.
7. Extra organizing. A basic rule for organizing any area is to have fewer things on more shelves. If your storage closet has adjustable shelves, don’t be afraid to adjust shelves in an effort to possibly add more shelves and become better organized. Using square or rectangular storage containers will give you more room than round ones. Remember to group like things together. When possible, use containers with tops so that you can stack and create more space. But try to stack no more than two. Three or more in a stack will usually lead to a problem.
And finally, one other tip that really has nothing to do with organization, but everything to do with the children who will be in your classroom: The most important questions you need to ask yourself regularly are: Why am I here? Why am I teaching? What am I hoping to accomplish? The people who had the greatest impact on me were my teachers. It wasn’t what they taught me, but their attitude toward teaching. It was more than me learning how to write; it was that someone cared about me. That’s what I learned the most. That’s what your students will learn this year – someone cares.
Be that teacher that greatly impacts lives and whatever you can do to make learning fun, do it!
Please feel free to share YOUR organizational tips in the comments!
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