With all the organization tips, tricks and freebies out there, what is it that you actually NEED?! For those of you about to start your first year teaching or just trying to set things up so things go better than last year, I’m here to give you my top 7 must have tools to organize your class.
1. Student Mailboxes
Every teacher absolutely must have an easy and efficient way to hand back papers. During my teaching career I’ve tried lots of options. I’ve tried passing papers out at the end of the day, while students are packing up. I’ve designated “paper passer” as a student job and tried to delegate the task. But no matter what I tried, I always ended up with a huge stack of papers that never seemed to get smaller! Introducing… student mailboxes. Every student has a hanging folder with their name or number on it. I can put papers that have been graded into their folders anytime during the day. I don’t end up stopping their learning because the students hardly even know I’m doing it. If there are notes that need to go home to every student, I can quickly put one in each folder in a matter of minutes. Click here to purchase the storage crate. This is one of my very favorite time saving tools for organizing! Let me know if you give it a try and love it as much as I do!
Thanks bloglovin.com for this detailed explanation of how to set up classroom mailboxes.
2. Organize Daily Materials and Plans
I like to use book bins like the ones pictured. However, I’ve seen teachers use folders, binders, or a set of plastic drawers. The point is that each bin or folder is marked for one day of the week (Monday-Friday). As you make photocopies, prepare lessons and gather the teaching aids you’ll need throughout the week, place them inside the designated bin. So, let’s say on Monday you had an open plan period and you made photocopies for a lesson you’re teaching on Tuesday and copies for a lesson you’re teaching on Wednesday. Instead of piling those copies up on your desk you place the copies for the lesson on Tuesday in the Tuesday bin and the copies for the lesson on Wednesday in the Wednesday bin. You will be amazed at how much time you save organizing your materials as you go rather than continually moving around piles on your desk.
3. No Name Area
Students will inevitably forget to put their name on their work. What will you do to figure out who’s paper it is? One option is to create a wall, bin etc in the classroom where all no name papers go. Just make sure to train your students to look in this area regularly. I found that hanging something like a no name peg board up in the front of the room was so obvious that students immediately noticed when something new was added. Another suggestion might be delegating a student job relating to no name papers. “No name detective” could be a cool name. That student’s job is to take the no name paper and determine who owns it.
4. A Method To Organize Absent Work
There will be days when you have one (or multiple) students absent. You need an easy way of organizing the work they have missed so that they can get it when they return. Some teachers have files in a corner of the room marked for each day. Extra worksheets they have from a given day go into that folder and the students check the folder when they return. Something I like to do is to continue handing out worksheets to every desk in the classroom, regardless of if the student is there or not. That means if a student is absent the person handing out the worksheet will just leave a copy on the empty desk. When the absent student returns to school he/she will find all the work they missed laying on top of their desk in a neat pile. Takes one less step out because the student doesn’t need to go looking for their make up work. Obviously, this strategy only works for teachers who have a single set of students.
5. Homework Tracking System
If you teach upper elementary through high school you know that homework can get overwhelming at times. You need to think through how to simplify your grading and how to keep track of missing work. Upper Elementary Snapshots has a free homework checklist that you can download (pictured below). There are somethings, daily math assignments for instance, that you don’t need to grade every single day. Instead, you could go around and check that the students have completed it using your checklist.
For those who are really tech-savvy you can use QR codes to track students missing assignments! Wow, mind blown!!! If the student doesn’t have their homework they (or you) scan the QR code, enter their name and the reason they don’t have their homework. Instant digital documentation. You could even use QR codes to track how often students are tardy, go to the restroom, or have to leave your class to go to a buddy room. Read more about this amazing idea and download the templates at Peppy Zesty Teacherista If you need more step-by-step instructions on how to create your own QR code read here.
6. Organization System For Lesson Plans.
If you’re a new teacher, you’re going to be pouring out hours of blood and sweat preparing lessons and making materials this year. Don’t let that hard work get lost! You need to devise a system to store all of those plans and make notes on ways to revise them for next year. Your system could be a binder or a file crate if you are just getting started. In the long run, I recommend Google Drive. Read my previous blog post to find out why.
7. Student Job Chart
Most teachers use student helpers in their classroom. Whether or not you’re using these effectively and efficiently is the real question. I advise not creating too many jobs because that kind of system becomes too complicated. Find the tasks that are simple yet take up valuable time if you were to do them.
Must haves to include:
-keeping the room clean (monitoring not cleaning up everything)
-monitoring that certain areas are clean such as centers or supply stations
Giving students jobs not only helps to save you time but it also fosters responsibility.
There you have it! If you implement these 7 tips at the beginning of the school year I know you’ll work a lot more efficiently and have a lot less stress over the small stuff. Happy teaching!
Check out the rest of my Back to School Series below: