September 26, 2018

Easy ways to get organized this upcoming school year!

Get back to school ready with these easy-to-implement organization ideas! |

Yeah, it may be summer break for most teachers (ahem...including this one) but much like most teachers we're always thinking about the year ahead.

I am so excited to begin teaching first grade this upcoming school year; covering a teacher friend who is staying home with her new baby (expected to arrive this July!). It's such an honor when a teacher entrusts their class with you and these little firsties will have so much fun while in my care.

One of the big things I like to tackle first when planning on getting into my classroom the first day back is envisioning the organization. From teacher and student materials to the physical makeup of the desks, chairs and bookcases. It all plays a part in how well a classroom functions throughout the school year. 

So, over the last few weeks I've been cultivating a little list of my favorite classroom organization ideas from fellow teachers across the web (i.e. Pinterest). Each idea makes for creative uses of space without much prep or thought - both being huge pluses for me!

Arranging the Classroom

Knowing your physical space in your classroom, and using it effectively, will save you all school year long! Over the years, and in different rooms, I've tried a number of different arrangements in terms of the big furniture like student and teacher desks, center spaces, reading nooks, and gathering space. Other uses of space incorporate your walls, doors, or anything you can hang something on. Using these spaces in the right way helps the flow of traffic throughout your room and allows students to work independently without any hassles.

But, always keep in mind that you won't truly know what works until your kiddos get in there. Each class and each year is going to feel and need something different than what you've done before! Keep an open mind and be thoughtful about how you'd like your room to feel and work.

Flexible seating options.
This is the newest approach to classroom arrangement and it's large in part due to the influx of students who need to fidget or those who do their best work in a position other than seated at a desk. By offering students a choice, they have the opportunity to think about what environment helps them do their best - but, of course, understanding the ground rules for each seating choice.

I love this idea to break the small group learning table into identifiable spaces for the kiddos. You can find this, and more fun organizational tips over at Adrienne Teaches!

Designate the right space.
Have visible and designated areas for each major subject. The bright and welcoming colors in First Grade Made's classroom invite students to that space! I love her use of bins for centers and how each wall clearly states where students can find the anchor charts or their work throughout the year.

Arranging the Teacher

Being an organized teacher go hand in hand. If you're unorganized then you'll quickly find yourself underneath papers you don't know what to do with and students all over the place. By incorporating some easy tips and figuring out what works for you will take so much wasted time off your plate!

Use the walls and boards!
This is a 'duh' statement but how you use them is completely up to you and oh, so important! I loved my hot glue gun when I had walls made of cinderblock because I could literally hang anything and it would stay up the whole year - then easily be removed.

Clothespins to the rescue!
Using hot glue to glue clothespins to your cinderblock walls is the perfect option for hanging posters that come up and down regularly - such as my Star Student posters. Another way you can hang clothespins on other types of walls is by hot gluing pushpins to the backs and sticking them in the wall or board that way!

Pocket folders are the best!
Use doors or walls to hang folder pockets for student's unfinished work, for example - but think about the traffic to this place before designating just any ole' door or wall. Make sure students can access this easily.

Anchor chart organization
I love creating fun anchor charts for my kiddos but storing and displaying them can take up so much space! Luckily I found this idea to use a magnetic curtain rod to help me display my charts and have a place for them when I'm done. I just simply flip and display my next poster!

Teachers, embrace the binders!
I am all for teachers using technology to keep track of their lessons or even student data, but nothing's as good (or reliable) and paper and pencil. So, finding a binder system that works for you is instrumental in staying organized and keeping grades easily accessible for when you need them most.

Arranging the Supplies


School supplies have a zillion different ways to be organized, but these few ideas caught my eye! Much like designating a space for your centers or student work, every day supplies need designated areas to be stored when not in use and easily accessible to students if you want your day running smoothly. Here are a couple of ways you can organize your supplies...

Supply stations.
Again, the easiest thing you can spend your money on are these various Sterilite plastic bins because you can literally use them or absolutely anything and everything. If you have desks that don't have inside cubbies, use these drawers for each student to keep their things. Use stations or groups of tables? Use a set of drawers for each major subject for every table group and assign table captains to retrieve their materials.

Creekside Teacher Tales decorated her plastic drawers to keep her crayons organized in her classroom. I love this idea - really for any grade!

Charging stations.
Nowadays technology is found in almost every classroom; going beyond just computer desktops. Now students have individual iPads or similar device and much like anything, teachers need to keep these charging stations easily accessible and organized. I love the numbered cubbies from Time 4 Kindergarten's room! Such an easy way to keep these devices safe.

Desk Fairy
I love this idea of a desk fairy because student desks tend to quickly get out of hand. So, if you're prepared to go the extra mile and reward students for tidiness then this idea is perfect! Because let's face it, both students and teachers need to be organized!

Now, I want to hear from you! What are some of YOUR favorite ways to organize your classroom? Share a link in the comments here or on Facebook! I'd love to see!

September 1, 2018

An Organized Classroom

One piece of unsolicited advice that I would offer anyone - teacher or not - it is to be well organized. The more time you spend early on getting your personal or work space in order the easier your future days will be. This is especially important for teachers at the beginning of the school year when they begin thinking and planning out the vibe and flow they want to have.

Imagine your classroom floor plan.
Where will furniture be placed? How will traffic flow? How will students find their materials? Where will student learning be displayed? Turned in? Handed back out? Will your students have jobs? How will they know the daily schedule?

All of these questions allow you to think about what kind of space you want to create. Our classrooms should be equipped to not only manage the learning, but to give students daily opportunities to be independent and take ownership over what and how they learn.

Today I'm excited to share with you all how I get organized and answer those questions at the beginning of each year!

One: Classroom Jobs

Having classroom jobs, or responsibilities, are such an important component of our classroom culture. Everyone has a stake in their ability to learn so therefore they need to be accountable for ensuring our learning space is a well maintained machine. Discussing Hopes & Dreams at the beginning of the year helps reinforce this all the way to June and lends itself to a discussion about jobs.

Now, classroom jobs will look different depending on the grade level. When I taught 2nd grade I had a number of jobs that were appropriate for that age group. In kindergarten, I may have less jobs or have more students helping with certain jobs.

This resource includes a wide variety of jobs such as:
  • Line Leader: The obvious and most coveted of all jobs ;)
  • Caboose: Another obvious but necessary job
  • Teacher Helper: Need help passing out/collecting papers or materials? The teacher helper is there for you!
  • Substitute: Is a helper absent? Get a substitute to fill in for any jobs whose kiddo isn’t in school that day.
  • Scrap Collector: By the end of the day it’s always interesting to find all those little scraps that happen to fall on the floor. Get your scrap collector to recycle those papers!
  • Safety Monitor: Do you have a safety bag you have to take with you everywhere? Your safety monitor is responsible for remembering that bag during specials, lunch, and drills.
  • Lunch Counter: Do you have to report a lunch count to the cafeteria each day? If so, this job requires students to take a tally of each lunch choice and report it to the cafeteria.
  • Lunch Monitor: This helper keeps an eye on behavior during lunchtime and reports to the teacher about what happened. My previous school’s lunchroom had a point system for behavior and this job correlates to that system. 
  • Attendance Runner: Also at my previous school, after taking attendance each morning this student runs it to the office.
  • Pencil Sharpener: At the end of the day this person is responsible for sharpening all the pencils and replaces old ones.
  • Librarians: Our school had a cart that we would deliver to the library of all returning books that week. The librarians would be responsible for delivering the cart as well as making sure our classroom library was organized.
  • Messenger: Need to run something to another classroom or ask another teacher something? Send the messenger!
  • Calendar Helper: This student helps out with calendar math every morning and is responsible for preparing the calendar for the following day.
  • Door Holder: The obvious third most coveted job.
  • Clip Chart Monitor: If you incorporate a clip chart in your room this helper is to put all the clips back to green at the end of the day.
  • Trash Collector: Last but not least, this helper keeps the classroom tidy.
I've added a few new jobs to this download so head on over to TpT to check them out!

Two | Writing Process Posters

I found this to be so helpful when I taught 2nd grade because it allowed everyone (including me!) to see what stage they were at in their writing! I used it as a clip chart of sorts by laminating and displaying them with student clips on the sides. As students worked through the different stages they would move their clips.

Three | Literacy Center Rotation Cards

Launching the Daily 5 in any classroom can be overwhelming at first, but the first step is getting prepared and organized. Before the kiddos arrive on the first day it’s important to have your centers established and prepared based on what you’re introducing in each lesson. This download has all the resources you need to get your reading block running and off the ground. Let’s take a peek as to what’s included.

Colorful reading center cards grab your attention and clearly identify each center!

Corresponding posters that you can display around your classroom so students know where each center is located.

These helpful posters are perfect when launching your Daily 5 routines and expectations. They easily accompany your beginning of the year lessons and give wonderful visuals and reminders for students throughout the year.

Everyone knows that anchor charts when beginning the Daily 5 routines are a vital part of each lesson. These posters are perfect for printing or even display and write on them using your smart board!

Last but not least, have students begin charting their stamina as you build up your independent reading time each day! Stamina charts come with both a chart for the whole class or individual student charts!

Four | Labels, labels, labels!

Labeling your classroom effectively is crucial for your students to be more independent and free up your time to do more important things. The better your kiddos know your classroom the better it will function overall. Here are a few of my favorite labels for the classroom.

Daily Schedule Cards

These schedule cards are a MUST because it helps students see what their days are going to be like. I’ve added a bunch of cards that practically cover almost all holidays, subjects, occasions, and fun things that could happen in any classroom. I love using these guys year after year!

Library Labels

I have just recently added these cards to my shop, which offer a number of different ways to organize your classroom library. There is by genre, Lexile, AR, DRA, and F&P. Whichever you choose, make sure your students learn to keep the library space organized too!

Enjoy your back to school and happy organizing!