Once the year gets going, it’s very difficult to slow down and make sense of things. You need to have a system from the start before you hit the ground running. That’s what brings me to my fourth critical back to school planning area: Getting organized.
There are so many elements to consider about being organized and how you want your classroom system to work. This includes turning papers in, students who are absent, classroom forms, class jobs for students, planning your lessons, and more.
First, get several binders ready to get organized. These are binders for the teacher (not the student). Use the binders to store specific materials and information you’ll need on the spot. Start with a professional development binder, a student information binder, a parent contact binder, a substitute binder, and a lesson planning binder. Using some simple and cheap dividers, you can split each of those binders to reflect the information that is most important and relevant to you. Most importantly, label your binders! Then, you can keep them near your desk or in an area that you’ll have access to in a moment’s notice. When you contact a parent, you’ll have a spot to jot that down in your parent contact binder. When you have a staff meeting, you’ll have a spot to store those handouts given by your administrator. Use them in the best way that works for you.
Another simple and cheap organization tip is to buy lots and lots of bins. You can find them at any store, including dollar stores. They may vary in size, shape, and color, but their purpose is the same. These bins will help you keep tidy and organize everything in your classroom – colored pencils, markers, books, magazines, flash cards, and prize bin rewards.
Some other class organization specifics to consider include:
- How do you want students to turn their work in? A special bin by your desk or in the back of the room means no extra work for you collecting papers. Make it part of the class routine from the start.
- How will absent students get their work? You can have an “absentee helper” take extra papers for the absent students, write their names on it, and keep in a special spot. Alternatively, you could just add the days extra papers to a bin. Again, make sure it’s the routine that students know to get those pages from the bin on their own when they come back.
- Consider what classroom jobs, if any, you want to implement this year. Classroom jobs for kids help the class run smoother without you having to do every task. It also promotes a sense of responsibility for students. Some jobs include: homework checker to check off students with assignments, computer helper to set up technology, class librarian to organize books, class veterinarian if you have a class pet, absentee helper to make sure absent kids get their work the next day, and keeper of the pencils, who will pass out an extra pencil from the pencil bin to students without a writing utensil.
- How do you envision your lessons to span across the year? Get a calendar and map out what skills you want to teach to students in each month. Even if it’s a rough estimate, a monthly lesson planning calendar will help you stay on track with lessons.
Getting organized is a critical step. Even if you just get a foundation of organization down, it can help the whole year round. I hope all the teachers out there are enjoying their back to school planning. Stay tuned for my third tip for back to school planning coming up soon!
Check out my all my back to school planning tips:
- #2 Back to School Planning Tip: Getting to Know You Activities
- #3 Back to School Planning Tip: Instructional Planning
- #4 Back to School Planning Tip: Getting Organized
- #5 Back to School Planning Tip: Bulletin Boards