Monday, December 7, 2009

Classroom Organization Tips

Organization is one of the keys to successful classroom management and to a less stressful year. When we are organized, we feel more confident and "together" each day. Below you'll find some tips to help you get yourself organized.

Tip 1: Daily Organization Folders

I just love Daily Folders! If you've heard this one before, please forgive me, but every year I am reminded of what a great organization tool this is! I take different colored file folders and label each one for a day of the week. As a secondary teacher, I do this for each class period and use stickers on the tab to differentiate between each period. I like to use cartoon figures like Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Daisy to represent each class period. Then I use an upright file box to hold all of my folders. Each class period has a gusseted hanging file to hold all five daily folders. Self-contained elementary is a bit easier with just 5 folders (one for each day).

Inside each folder I place my lesson plans, handouts/copies, notes to send home, administrative notices or memos, parent notices, and so on for that day. Each afternoon I:

  • Take out the folder for the next day
  • Check to be sure everything I need is inside
  • Put my sub folder just inside (on top)
  • Place the folder on top of my desk

Then I:

  • Set up my whiteboard for the next day
  • Get my bulky materials ready and out to be used (in an easily accessible place)

Now I feel that I am ready to begin the next day. What if something happens unexpectedly and I can't get to school? No problems – everything a substitute needs is right on my desk and near my podium or overhead. This looks great when the school administrator has to come in for a few minutes if no one else is available. The students know to get started on their board work (it is already up), my plans and materials are on my desk ready to go, and everyone has an easier transition!

Tip 2: Positive Notes

Another way to get organized is to create materials in bulk ahead of time. This can be done on weekends or during school holidays. One thing I like to create and have ready to hand out at any time are positive notes to students. I know that students love to get positive notes from me, but I just don't have the time to sit and write out a full note at the end of class! One solution is to brainstorm several different "positives", type them out, copy them on bright paper, and have them ready. I usually set up my page in four squares and type one positive message in a fun, yet easy-to-read font in each square. Then I copy these on colored card stock paper. I cut them out and place them into folders on my desk. (Other ideas include using a basket, hanging the folders on the wall instead of putting them in your filing cabinet (no dust collecting), or putting a stack on your overhead or podium).

Sample Positives:

  • Thank you for participating in class today!
  • Thank you for helping another student when they needed it!
  • Thank you for being such a good helper to me today!
  • Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!
  • Thanks for being on time!
  • Thanks for leading that group!
  • Thank you for sharing your materials!
  • Thanks for bringing in all your work on time!

What are some other specific "positives" you want to reinforce in your class? I also like to think of the life-skills – Cooperation, Teamwork, Honesty, Integrity, Friendship, Perseverance, Determination, Personal Best, and others.

Now choose and sign the note, put a smiley face on it, and hand it to the student as they leave the room!

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