A well-organized classroom means less stress for you and more time to educate students. Most teachers are already known for being organized, but when was the last time you thought about what worked and what didn’t in your classroom? The beginning of the school year is the perfect opportunity to become the ultimate organized teacher. Think of a classroom, where the students take responsibility for their own belongings and where everything has its place. Just follow these tips to staying organized and your classroom will practically run itself.
Organize and Label EverythingWith teaching, comes worksheets and a lot of paperwork; it’s part of the territory. But there is no reason for papers to be unorganized or laying in piles around the classroom. Here are a few tricks to help you organize your files and manage all of those papers:
- Binders- A simple three-ring binder will help you keep track of all that valuable paperwork. Have your students purchase a binder in the beginning of the school year, and every time they receive a paper, tell them to place it into their binder. Notes to or from parents, should be placed in an envelope and clipped to the front page of their binder. This will help keep important notes safe, secure and organized. Use three-ring binders for your teacher resources, valuable articles and lesson plans.
- Boxes- Purchase large totes or boxes to store supplies, books, toys, holiday décor and any other item that is too large to fit into your binder. Label each tote or box appropriately so when you need it, it is easy to find.
- Baskets- Place baskets in a specific spot in your classroom and label them appropriately such as, “homework”, “reading” or “papers to go home.” This will ensure you know where everything is, and teach the students responsibility for placing their papers in the correct basket.
- Label- Label everything in your classroom. Label folders, binders, books, totes, boxes, cabinets and even the students’ desks. Specific items should be color coded. All reading folders are red, take home binders are white, teacher’s manuals and lessons are blue and so on.
Prepare in AdvanceA huge part of keeping your classroom organized is to have lessons, activities, field trips and substitute information all prepared ahead of time. Follow these tips to minimize your stress:
- Absences– There will be a time when you’re too sick to come to school, but if you have a substitute teacher folder already prepared, they should have no problem working with your students. Clearly color code and label the folder, and keep it in a location where the substitute can easily find it. Provide a class list, fire drill information, office phone numbers, seating charts, daily schedule and a few lessons.
- Lessons– Prepare lessons and activities at least one week in advance. Label and color code a folder with each day of the week on it, and in the folder, place your lesson for that day. If supplies are too large to fit into the folder, then label a small tote with the specific day of the week and put your supplies into that. This will keep you organized and give you more time with your students.
- Field Trips/Open House– Planning for everyday activities is hard enough, but there comes a time every school year that you must plan a field trip and an open house for your classroom. An easy way to prepare for these events is to place all of the information you need in a large envelope or small tote. Include items for a field trip such as consent forms, name tags, lists and an itinerary. To prepare ahead for an open house, provide each parent with a folder that includes a welcome letter, homework policy, class rules, school calendar, curriculum outline and activities to do at home.
- Student Expectations– For your classroom to stay organized and operate smoothly, prepare your students in the beginning of the year. Train them to know that everything in the classroom has a place. Go over class rules and explain how the classroom is organized. Tell them when they get something out they need to place it back where they found it. Show them where their papers go in the morning and before they go home, and where to place their belongings and school supplies. Provide them with a visual chart of the class rules and an outline of how the classroom is setup. Help them understand they are responsible for themselves and keeping the classroom clean and organized.
Creating the ultimate organized classroom is a terrific way to keep your class running smoothly and keep you stress free. If you find that something isn’t working for your class, then change it. Remember, an organized classroom is a stress-free, functional classroom.