One of our favorite authors, Harry Wong, defines a well-managed classroom as a task-oriented and predictable environment. His books detail the research that teachers know well: learning occurs best when students know what is expected of them, and when the teacher exercises control over the classroom. Organization of even the smallest of things goes a long way in maintaining and fostering an effective classroom environment. One of our favorite bloggers, Charity Preston, has some great advice on organization for teachers that we’d like to share with you:
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 the colleagues you work with every day. Here are five classroom organizational tips and tricks that I‘ve found to help teachers keep it all together!
1. Batch Your Planning & Supply Gathering Times.
If you plan your lessons for an entire week at one time, you maintain the same train of thought about your student objectives and the materials you want to use. But, if you are constantly planning only 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 plans) to keep the planning momentum going.
2. Prepare With Little Distraction.
Decide when and where you can get the most accomplished: before or after school, during your planning period, or on Sunday afternoon in your empty school building. Whenever that time is, make an effort to be at school to plan and organize when there are few distractions. If you are constantly being interrupted by students or colleagues who want to chat, or are always having to wait for the copier, you will find it difficult to streamline the time it takes to complete those tasks.
3. Always Leave a Clean Desk.
Maybe it’s 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 in the morning when you start your day!
4. Never Do What Students Can Do Themselves.
This is a wonderful “mantra” that should be utilized to its fullest. Have your students straighten desks, organize supply caddies, and pick up scraps of paper from 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!
5. 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 your summer.
So, maybe the best time to get organized is now, before the end-of-the year rush is upon us! 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 up the party music, and feel great when it’s finished without having to spend any of your summer to get it done!
By choosing even one or two of the options above, you will feel empowered to continue to make small changes in your classroom organization.
Don’t forget to join us for more organizational tips and advice at our "Overcoming Organizing Obstacles" Webinar, with host Charity Preston tomorrow at 4 p.m. EST!
Charity Preston, MA is the editor and creator of several websites, including The Organized Classroom Blog, Classroom Freebies, and Teaching Blog Central, among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. Charity is currently taking time off to run her online businesses and spend time with her toddler. She is married with two children, ages two and 14 and has two cats and a dog. Life is never dull in the Preston house!