How to Be an Organized Teacher
An Organized Desk Is Essential
Why it is Important to Be Organized
She walks into the school room five minutes prior to the start of class. The students are already chatting and sharing news from last night and seem oblivious to her entry. As she moves to the front of the classroom, a paper airplane flies across her face, hitting a child in the head. The room seems a bit stuffy and the blackboard still has yesterday's agenda posted. She sets her tote on the desk and turns to face the class. Suddenly, she realizes that her class is already going in a different direction than planned for the day.
Occasionally, we have days like this when it seems as if our whole world spins out of control and all is lost. As a teacher, we try to keep times like this to a minimum. We know that days like this are not conducive to learning and only deter the path forward for students. So how do we keep this from happening?
The answers is to become an organized teacher. A good cook in the kitchen can whip up any menu within minutes and present a decent meal when the kitchen is stocked and everything is in it's place. Similarly, a good teacher can navigate rocky waters if her classroom is well organized. With some planning and preparation of basic school room essentials, your day's schedule can flow smoothly in spite of late starts.
A teacher's ability to organize and prioritize classroom materials and schedules makes for successful teacher-student learning and efficacy. It is especially important during the first few weeks of each school year and it will set the expectations and classroom behavior for the duration of the year. A study (Harry Wong,1998) showed that classroom management depended upon a teacher's early organization skills, which led to student cooperation, engaged student activity, and a productive learning environment.
Which of the following keeps you organized in the classroom (choose one only)?
Basic Classroom Essentials
There are some simple organizational methods that will make any teacher's classroom schedule sail through rough seas easily and quickly. The first step is to know exactly what is needed to operate at the basic level. It may seem tedious, but keeping a central filing system either on your desk or in a personal work area is key in keeping on top of everyday classroom instruction.
Baskets, crates or standard cardboard file boxes are sturdy, mobile holders for important daily material such as calendars, handouts, forms, progress reports and reward stickers. By creating a central work station your essential needs are easily retrieved or filed as needed, saving time and effort.
A storage cabinet located near the teacher's desk area can be used to hold often used supplies such as sentence strips, student folders and large or bulky items. Other useful storage items are over-the-door shoe holders, ziplock baggies, shoe boxes and tupperware containers. These can be used to hold and organize papers, books, manipulatives, prizes and other teaching materials.
Organization On The Run
Preparation Outside the Classroom
The well organized teacher plans ahead, not only in the classroom, but at home. Many instructors have home offices or at least a private space where they store classroom materials and supplies. When I taught pre-schoolers, my home's basement served as a combination office and closet for all the wonderful manipulatives, charts, toys, and books that I didn't have room for at school.
I purchased inexpensive shelving at the local hardware store and used it to stack games, art supplies, dramatic play items and prop boxes that I needed to rotate in and out of the classroom according to thematic lessons. Also, if you can locate them, discarded display stands from grocery and retail stores make great storage space. Arranging your school room items according to themes goes a long way in being able to put a lesson together when the time comes. A label maker is useful in noting the contents of a storage box making it simple to pull items as needed.
Currently, my real time saver is owning a durable rolling cart or briefcase to tote items needed at home and school. My favorite is a briefcase that has three large inside compartments and outer zippered areas that can hold flash drives, pens, scissors, glue sticks and other miscellaneous smaller teaching material. It is also large enough inside to carry my lunch bag and small purse. Make a habit of packing your cart or case the night before with those completed assignments so that you can simply roll on out in the morning.
Through the years I have accumulated a vast amount of learning materials useful at many different levels of classroom education. Today's technological advances have made storing of such documents and forms a breeze. My briefcase is a lot lighter these days since I do not have the added weight of tons of paperwork. Storing forms on a portable laptop and flash drive are convenient and keep a teacher organized.
I realize that many also use folders as methods of organization, but having an electronic storage system reduces clutter and can set up those regularly used forms and classroom handouts in specialized folders and zip drives.
A good teacher is prepared and organized and sets the stage in a classroom for excellence in student learning.