I originally published this article for TeachHUB, but thought I should share it here too for those who might have missed it. Enjoy!
Welcome to 2012! In the spirit of the season, I posted a question to my Facebook Fan Page fans about their professional resolutions for the new year. There were lots of fantastic ideas posted, but the one I kept seeing over and over again was the theme of being more organized in the classroom so that he or she would be able to leave after school and actually spend time with loved ones.
The new year brings with it the opportunity to reflect on what works and what doesn’t in our classrooms. While many teachers do that on a regular basis with their teaching methodology, when was the last time you really thought about the effectiveness of your organization patterns? It can really make a difference to you, your students, and colleagues!
Here are five classroom organizational tips and tricks to help you start the new year off right:
Batch Your Planning & Supply Gathering Times
If you plan for an entire week at one time, you maintain the same train of thought about your student objectives and materials you may want to use. But, if you are constantly planning 1-2 days at a time, you have to review what you have already done and start the process over each time. Plan in larger chunks (not too large, as there will always be changes to even the best laid-out plans) to be able to keep the planning momentum going.
Prepare with Little Distraction
When can you get the most accomplished? Before school, after school, during your planning period, or on Sunday afternoon in an empty building? Whenever that time is, make an effort to get to school to plan and organize. If you are constantly being interrupted by students or colleagues who want to chat or having to wait for the copier, you will find it difficult to streamline the time it takes to complete those tasks.
Always Leave a Clean Desk
Maybe it is just me, but I find that if I leave my desk in disarray the day before, I already feel frazzled and behind heading into the next day. Make a conscious effort to leave a note of things that need to be addressed, file away extra papers, and put all supplies away that may be cluttering up your desk (even if all you do is hide them in the drawer). At least you will feel on top of things bright and early to start out!
Never Do What Students Can Do Themselves
This is a wonderful mantra that should be utilized to its fullest. Have the students straighten desks, organize supply caddies, and pick scraps of paper up off the floor. Not only does it save you time and make your custodial staff happy, but it also teaches responsibility to your students. Sounds like a win-win-win!
Plan a Buddy System Organization Blitz
Every year, you say you want to completely organize your manipulatives, classroom library, and more. But at the end of the year, you are ready to be done. You always have good intentions of coming back early before summer break is over, but you want to spend the last few days enjoying what is left of the summer.
So, maybe the best time to get organized is now! Ask a fellow colleague to help you on a weekend or in the evening for a few hours over the course of a week, if you agree to do the same for her or him. Order in some take-out, pump the party music, and feel great when it is done without spending any of your summer to do so!
By choosing even one or two of the options above, you will feel empowered to continue to make small changes in your classroom organization. I hope you have enjoyed these tips and will be able to implement at least one!
Here’s to hoping 2012 brings you organized desks, files, and cabinets!