When it comes to organizing, some teachers are pros! They can find the perfect spot for every poster, every manipulative and every paper. For those of us who have more piles and boxes and bags than we know what to do with, we stand in awe of those who have amazing organizational skills. Since the chances of those great organizers coming to arrange and sort our classroom supplies is slim to none, we have to figure out ways to keep our teaching tools organized so they don’t take over our rooms. The tips below will help begin to conquer the clutter and keep teaching supplies under control.
With so many teachers having to buy their own paper for their class, the last thing that anyone wants is to waste it. Instead of keeping multiple copies of papers on hand, start a masters book. Use a 3″, 3-ring binder and tabbed dividers for each month that you are in school. If this is your first year teaching, start your book from scratch by keeping one copy of each reproducible that you use and putting it into the binder under the month that you used it in. Veteran teachers may have a stack of papers and supplies that are just waiting to be organized before school starts again. Work through the piles and boxes methodically. Toss what you do not need and keep one copy of each sheet that you use with your class. This helps control the print out clutter and gives you material to use during every month of the year. Another idea is to put the pages in clear, 3-hole sheet protectors, so that if there are extra pages, you can keep them all together and not print out as many during the following year. You can also arrange your binders by subject or grade level if you teach multiple grades.
File Folder Box
How many times have you found the perfect map or article for an upcoming unit, only to have nowhere to safely put it until the unit begins? This year, purchase a hanging file folder box and keep folders for each unit that you do with your students throughout the year. Have files for the big unit studies, as well as the quick units, so that when you find materials for them, you can file the resources away. When it is time to start planning the unit or lesson, pull out the file folder for that topic and everything will be right at hand. The trick is not to forget to look in the file folders when it is time to plan!
The Ultimate Planner
Some teachers can work within the confines of a small planning book and feel confident that they have everything they need. Others can be seen carting around binders, notebooks, date books, planners and more, but can never seem to find what they need. If this is you, have no fear. Create an ultimate planner for your school and home life. A large 3″, 3-ring binder is going to be your best friend for the rest of the school year. In it, place a date book with holes to fit in the binder, a planner for your lessons and a blank notebook. Everything should be together and through the holes of the large binder. Also place a binder pouch to store pens, pencils, a calculator and correction fluid. The date book is for your home life, the planner is for your lesson plans and the notebook is to write down all of your notes, to-do lists and reminders. Having everything together in one place will make planning school and home life a lot easier.
By multiplying, we are not talking about math! We mean those manipulatives that seem to take over the classroom with their bulk and tiny pieces when no one is looking. Put a lid on these wayward teaching tools by keeping them in stackable bins, baskets or tubs. Clearly label each container with the contents, so everything is easy to find. When you use the manipulatives, be sure to put them back where you got them from. It may be tempting to toss them on your desk with the intention of filing them away later, but resist the urge and put them away immediately. Your desk and classroom will stay cleaner and more organized for the effort.
What is your favorite trick for organizing teaching and school supplies? Leave a comment below or on the Really Good Teachers Forum and share your ideas with other teachers!