Saturday, March 28, 2015

Teacher Sanity: An Organization Linky

One of the many things that I wasn't taught in college was how to maintain organization in the classroom.  How are teacher things are organized?  How are student things organized?  What do kids need independent access do?  What do you not want kids to have access to?  Are some questions I think many of us ask ourselves subconsciously and may be different for each teacher's personality and style.

There are many times when I have said to myself - "Why didn't I think of that?!"  So please if you have an organizational idea that you would like to share link up with me below!  

SOAP BOX WARNING:  One thing that really nerves me up is when I hear veteran teachers say things like "Oh yeah I was that organized when I was just starting teaching." and "Someday you won't care that much about having all those papers perfect."  Yes, I may be a bit more critical this early in my career, but after 26 years on this earth I know I am super type A, perfectionist, neat freak, organization fanatic!  So don't tell me what I will and won't do in 15 years.  Sorry, not sorry!

Phew!  Anyways.....

Student of the Day:  Each day there is one student that is the student of the day.  The names are on the stars and are kept in the front of the room.  The student of the day gets the comfy seat pad (which has seen better days and will be my summer project).  This child is basically the helper of all things: calendar, paper passer, office assistant etc.  Anything that needs to be done or can be done will be this child's task.  This way is also very helpful when there is a sub because she/he doesn't have all the kids being bossy, just one! :)  The great thing is the kids do this all independently...switching names and the seat pad.  
Student Stuff:  Our school is blessed that each student has their own cubby space and hook to keep their belongings in.  I printed out special name coloring pages which act as their label for their cubby space.  In the cubby they keep their daily five bags (black Wal-Mart sacks), backpacks, library/AR folder, and probably a bunch of junk because we know kids are all hoarders by nature.  
We have one turn in tray for office notes or homework.  Side note: We do weekly homework and then sporadic math about twice a week so that cuts down on the papers EVERY SINGLE DAY!!  
Before I started teaching I found these mailboxes at the Goodwill for about $12.  They are perfect for the daily papers and have extra spaces for myself and the principal.  I learned the hard way that kids will want to make you and the principal TONS of stuff (especially during the letter writing unit) so having a mailbox can cut down on TONS of trips to deliver the goodies.  I use binder clips on the slots to label and easily switch out each year.  
Here is also where we keep our paper tray that has fun scraps for a variety of uses!  This particular day our book hospital must have been moved because it sits there next to the scrap paper box too.  This way kids are independent in placing torn books where they need to go until I have time to fix them up!
Although my kids have all their own supplies we also have communal supplies as well.  Lost things go here as well - - natural consequence - - keep your things where they belong!!!  One thing we do share 100% are pencils (unless they are special and you teachers know what that means) and glue sticks....I didn't snag a pic of that but hey it would have just been a bucket of glue!  However, it is down where the kids can reach so they can replace glue independently.  
Other than a school issued take home folder my kids have a desk folder and a writing folder.  We use our desk folders a lot so we actually have two so we can replace around Christmas time!  Never fails the kids think I bought them all their new supplies at Christmas when really I have just been storing it for them since back to school night.  

Desk folders keep anything unfinished work or multi-day projects we are working on.  This is especially helpful for guided reading because the kids keep all their stuff!  I keep a can of pencils and any other materials so that cuts down on the time used to get right to work during that precious time!

Writing folders are mostly used during the first half of the year when we use printed paper with big lines.  In January we transition to composition notebooks for writing.
Bathroom Breaks: Also known as the teachers arch nemesis!  We take entire classroom breaks or call by tables every now and again but then of course learning has to stop.  Many times we do something called tapping.  I have the boys and girls listed with their name and picture.  The kid at the top of the list goes to the bathroom/drink and then taps the next kid and so on.  After a while we will go bottom up or even top down and bottom up as long as they are efficient in the bathroom.  Once again something that the kids are completely independent at doing!
At our school the kids have to fill out a nurse note with their name, date, time, and a reason to see the nurse.  This is something they have access to and after permission is given they fill out the information INDEPENDENTLY.  I also keep bandages in the blue zipper pouch and lotion here too.  

It isn't in the picture but right here is also a tin with extra glue stick lids and dry erase marker lids.  Best idea ever!  It is so easy when they have lost or thrown away a lid by accident because we have extras.  They are accessible to the kids so they can be independent.
Our class library is truly a labor of love!  This took me SOOO many hours this summer to complete, however it is one of the things I could never teach without.  This is another area that has been tailored for independence!  There are two sections: Leveled Books and Fun Books.  The students are required to have two fun books and two leveled books.  All the books and bins are labeled the same so the kids are able to browse and return without any help.
Teacher Stuff:  I am a planning freak and I am willing to admit it.  I have anxiety, so having the next week fully planned is always a goal of mine.  I keep my current weekly resources in my labeled drawers and then I have an extra rack for each day when planning ahead or if things need to get shifted around.  Everything has a place!



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