This week’s topic for Sunday Funday, organized by Julie, is “Everything Organization”. This post has been sitting in my drafts since the end of the school year, and although there probably isn’t anything new in this post, I figured I would join in on this week’s topic anyway.
As a teacher, you have so many things going on all at once and having an organized classroom helps me immensely when my brain is being pulled in multiple directions at the same time. Here are a few things last year that helped keep my room organized, thus helped keep me somewhat sane all year!
- Command Hooks & Binder Clips – I think I got this idea from Sara Van Der Werf, but I’m not exactly sure. It’s such a simple idea, but it’s been so useful, especially to keep papers that typically would have been in a pile on my desk off my desk and easy to find. I use it to keep my list of students who need to make up tests along with the tests themselves. I put seating charts on another one and class lists on another. I also have one next to my calculators with the list of students and the calculator that’s assigned to them.
- Calculators – At the start of the year I had two bins with calculators that I took out for students when they needed calculators. This was a pain. I was constantly checking to see if I got all the calculators back, and I learned that students do not know how to neatly put calculators back. Partway through the year I decided to number the calculators and put them in the shoe holder I already had in my classroom for cell phones -it’s a school policy that this is where students put phones during class. I assigned students who needed calculators a number in each class and posted it next to the shoe holder (using a command hook). This worked SO much better than the bins! It was easy for me to check at the end of class if all calculators were returned, and if one was missing, I knew who to talk to about the missing calculator.
- Unit Binders – This may have been the biggest game changer for me this year. In the past, I found the biggest binder I could and shoved all of my originals and answer keys in there for as many units as possible until it was full, and then I found another huge binder. I would also have one pile of stuff I was currently using with the intent that I would file the stuff when the test was over. I never did. It was nearly impossible for me to find anything in these binders, so I didn’t really use them much. This year, I decided make a binder for every unit for each of my classes. I originally saw this from Gina Wilson, but I wanted ones to match my own units. I recognized the fonts and created my own version to go with my classes. My mom always says that if something makes you smile, you’ll use it. She’s right. These binders and covers make me smile. This is the first year that I actually kept up with filing my originals and answer keys every week, every two weeks at the most. In the front of the binders I also have the learning targets and vocab sheets I post on the board.
- Task Card Bins – I have several (ok..more than several) bins of laminated task cards, card sorts, etc. This year I have them labeled on the outside with the class, unit, and general topic of what’s inside. On the top, I have a card with exactly what’s inside as well as how many copies I have of each. (I also have a folder on my computer labeled “Activities” where I have folders for each unit for each class with the activities I have in these bins. Then if I’m lesson planning at home I know what activities I already have copies of.)
- Supply Bins – This isn’t anything new, but having these bins with labels on them have been great. My classroom is right next to the senior locker bank/commons area. They will often come in asking for scissors, glue, etc. It’s nice that I can direct them to this area, and they can find what they need without having to stop whatever it is I’m doing.
- Copies – I’ve been doing this for a few years now, but I have different colored file folders labeled with the days of the week for each of my classes. I use these to keep the copies I need for that day. I also have one for “last week’s copies” to keep handy if a student needs a new copy of something from the previous week. My goal is to file the copies from 2 weeks ago every week, but that rarely happens… One great thing about this system is that my co-teacher can easily find copies, and if I end up being gone unexpectedly, I can direct someone else here and they can find what they need.
- Hand in/Return Bins – In the past, I had file folders for papers that needed to be returned to students in the same bin where I kept my copies. I found this tray at a garage sale and thought it was perfect for this. I’m terrible at returning papers to students, so having it sitting on the counter not only helped me remember to this, it also encouraged me to actually pass them back when I got sick of looking at the stacks in the trays.
- Paper Tray – I got this tray for papers on my desk so that papers I still needed but didn’t want to deal with right away weren’t quite so cluttered on my desk. If the stack became taller than the tray, it was time to deal with some of them. I didn’t let myself have random stacks of papers other places on my desk.
I’m looking forward to reading the other Sunday Funday posts this week on organization to pick up a few more ideas from the rest of you to try to stay organized this year!