Classroom Organization ~ What To Do Wednesday?

classroom organization Jan 20, 2021

Dear Lesson Plan Toolbox,

I probably should send a picture of my classroom because it is a hot mess. I feel like I try to be organized, but as hard as I try the more of a mess I have to clean up at the end of the day. I look at all these classrooms and I see bookshelves that are gorgeous, papers placed in appropriate spots, and manipulatives all having a home to be stored. My classroom is the exact the opposite. 

If you were to walk into my classroom at the end of the day, you would see books just stacked by bookshelves, crayons and pencils all over the floor, blocks and all our other center materials scattered about. Our tech cart is always a nightmare because the cords are in a tangled mess. Our worksheet bin is overflowing with papers that I don't even know how to tackle them.

Trust me, I know a lot of this has to do with my discipline, but I am just trying to survive this year. I would love to hear any advice that you might have to offer on how to organize my classroom.

Unorganized Confusion

Dear Unorganized Confusion,

I am sure your classroom is not in as bad of shape as you are thinking. One of the main drawbacks to social media is that so often we find ourselves comparing our lives to that of others. Sometimes this can lead to amazing new habits, but at other times it can add more stress to our lives that is just simply not necessary.

As I am reflecting on your email, my first thought goes to what systems do you have in place? What are the students responsible for as far as cleaning up? If you can assign some responsibilities to students, even as young as preK, you can alleviate much stress from yourself. Beyond that, most younger students especially, love having a job to do so they can contribute to the classroom environment. You can have one or two students in charge of sweeping, one student in charge of putting tech back in the cart, several students responsible for wiping desks and chairs at the end of the day, and maybe even have two responsible students tie up the trash. Find a flow that will work for you and your students.

As far as papers being organized, I can share what worked for me. Many teachers use cubbies or different trays to collect work, but that simply never worked for me. We had red and a blue basket for each of the two homerooms I would teach. Each room had their color to turn their work into and it worked really well. At the end of each class, I would paperclip the work together and keep it in the basket until I was ready to grade or review it. This way, I always new where the papers were and students always new where to put their work no matter what they were working on. 

One final tip you can try as far as keeping your bookshelf organized is to categorize the books by colors. Sounds kind of crazy, but think about it. A student might have a hard time knowing what basket or part of the shelf he/she took a book from, but if it is just a matter of putting a blue book by the other blue books your odds are much better. This year with the "waiting room" books have to go through before they can be shelved again, might be a good year to teach a student how to do this job. Then you can either assign this to your students or have your early finishers put them back. 

All of the tips and tricks in this blog are systems that worked for me and they may very well work for you. Remember though, if an idea doesn't work for you it doesn't mean you're a bad teacher. You just need to find a system that does work and with time you will get there. Please feel free to reach out to us on Instagram (@lessonplantoolbox) or email ([email protected]) and we will be happy to offer some more ideas.

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