This week, I thought I would share a few quick tips that have helped me keep organized in the classroom over the years! And sometimes, pictures are the best, quickest way to communicate! I hope that they are useful to you! Here are a few quick pictures of some things I do in my room to stay organized.
One thing that helps me keep organized is any clipping paper masters that I often need for lessons inside the teacher’s manuals that we use, and keeping those masters in page protectors.
I mark the correct page to begin on for each group with a colored post-it note. Those same sticky notes often last me a whole year!
I recently found some colored clips that serve the same purpose. They work just as well, of course!
I try to always save the large zippered bags that new bedspreads and other blankets come in so that I can store picnic blankets in them in my classroom! I like to take the kids outside and read a book on the grass when it’s a nice day outside! Plus, it’s nice to have something to sit on if there is an outside school event.
I love having plastic drawers that are labeled with the things that I use a lot. I have a box for our “All About Me” person of the week, another for birthday crowns, special birthday pencils and notes that go home on that special day, and another for the Scholastic Book Club (so that there is somewhere to put all of those catalogs that arrive continuously!) I have another bin for first aid supplies, and another for calendar supplies.
I have another drawer for notes for new students that may come in the middle of the year, so if there is ever a note that would be important for a parent to know all year from that point forward, then I put it there. I place extra copies of everything that goes home on the first day of school here as well, so that if we get a new student, I have extra copies of everything that child will need.
I keep about two extra copies of the weekly homework in one of these bins as well. If a parent comes in at any time and asks for a copy of the homework from any given week, I can almost always provide an instant copy. In the calendar bin, each month has its own manilla envelope for supplies, so that when it is time to change the calendar, it is quick and easy to find everything that I need.
At the end of the school year, I clear out the drawers and send home the extra worksheets that have collected in the bins so that kids can practice on them over the summer.
Another thing that I do is take roll and the lunch count at the same time, and I write it on a dry erase sleeve. Then I take it to the computer and enter the attendance into it while the kids sing along with a DVD or play the Quiet Game. Here’s a video from one of our new Animated Sight Word DVDs!
Several years ago I started keeping the files and worksheets that I use the most for homework in binders in page protectors, and I would NEVER go back to shoving everything into a file folder again! Sure, it was a pain in the neck getting them into binders, but now I can ALWAYS find exactly what I want. Things don’t get lost. And I am slowly but surely converting everything to digital copies as much as possible, and storing them on my computer instead. That way, all I have to do is find the item that I want to do and print it.
I also find it extremely simple to keep a small stack of post-it notes in the pocket of the binder, and each time I take out a worksheet to copy, I mark it with the date before I put it away. I can also tell which things I am storing and NEVER using, too! Those are good things to get rid of!
I LOVE keeping an old printer/copier/scanner in my room! It’s not even connected to my computer because it is so old that the software is incompatible, but I don’t care! I just use it as a xerox machine when I need a quick copy of something. It is SO handy- you wouldn’t believe how many teacher visitors I have during the day when they find they have to have a copy of something QUICK! I also love being able to give a kid an instant new copy when they “accidentally” mess something up that they have been trying to avoid doing. It’s also handy for making copies of contracts that I sometimes need to send home with children.
Another great thing to do is to have everyone in the class bring a sports top water bottle to school to keep there. With the help of volunteers, I keep them filled up. Each color group has a colored basket where their bottles are kept, and these baskets are spread around the room. So when the children all need a drink of water, we don’t have to wait for five or ten minutes for them all to stand in line at the water fountain; I just send them to their water bottles and let them all get a drink at the same time! As long as the baskets are in four different corners of the room, and then the children can all spread out to get their drinks, and each take a nice long drink for a minute or two. Then they put it back in the basket and come on back. If it is empty, it goes into a special white tub that has been designated for that purpose.
When it is time to come back from getting a drink, I either play a song or start counting backwards from 10. When I get to zero, or when the song ends, then everyone has to be back with me in the large group. As long as I am consistent with my consequences, then they all come right back when I tell them to. If I start making exceptions, then nobody listens and nobody cares if I said that the time is up. That’s just the way it is!
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