Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Year I Finally Organized My Classroom

Okay this blog post comes from summers of searching blogs, my own trial and error, the helpfulness of a fellow teacher, and a desire to help others in their own classroom organization.

View from the back of the Classroom

My Desk Area: (Pictured below)

So the three sets of drawers were IMPERATIVE this year. I teach three different levels of students: 2 Upper Level, 2 On-Level, and 2 Pure GT Classes. This means I have a crazy amount of paper to keep track of, from copies, to pass backs, to papers I need to grade-- it all gets a little crazy. This year though I didn't have stacks of paper anywhere. Each set was for a different level I taught. 

Here is how my drawers were organized:

Top Drawer-- had two folders (one for each class period). This is where I put graded papers 
Middle Drawer-- Graded papers/Scantrons  I didn't want to pass back. Mostly this was quick checks or scantrons that the kids wouldn't have value in getting back. 
Bottom Drawer-- This is for any copies I got that I wasn't ready to pass out to the kids yet. I stored them in the bottom drawer. 

On the top of the left set of drawers are my dry-erase markers, middle set of drawers have folders that hold all of my "Originals" from copies I got back, and on top of the right is all the various passes teachers have. 

View behind my desk
EXTRA COPIES: Next to my desk is where I keep all of my extra copies of papers. The tabs are labeled for the days of the week then after that "Week 1, Week 2, etc."  When a student is absent or needs extra copies it is easy for me to know exactly where those papers go. 

Extra Copies for Absent students

TURN IN TRAYS: I call them trays-- they are buckets or boxes or bins. Regardless though this is by far and away the best way I've had to turn things in.  Every class period kids turn papers into the box and then I clear papers out of the box and put them in my "To Grade" drawer behind my desk in the appropriate class period folder. This seems tedious but it really isn't that bad. In fact my students got into the habit of telling me if there was papers from a previous class left and its a gentle reminder to me to clear them out. The "Late Work" tray is legitimately exactly as its name suggests-- for late work. Students turn their Late Work in here-- sometimes they turn it into the "Turn In" bin by accident but because I take papers out of it every class period I just transfer any papers that "do not belong" into the Late Work bin. 
Turn in Bin and Late Work Bin (Bins for Target/Shelf is IKEA)
 PICKUP TABLE: As I said before I teach six classes and three different levels. I divided my table into three different sections. Last year I struggled with swapping out papers every period. At the beginning of the year part of the procedure was picking papers up from the correct place every day. I thought kids would struggle a lot and pick from the wrong piles but they didn't! This worked awesomely!

PASS BACK FOLDERS: The grey crate was for papers to "Pass Back"-- each class period has their own folder. Whenever I finished grading papers I simply put them in their designated class period folder. Our procedure was that if kids saw papers in the pass back file-- they should pass them back before the bell rings. Throughout the year I would have regulars-- kids who always passed back papers-- but my high achieving classes ESPECIALLY loved this. They got immediate feedback. My favorite part? They started passing back when they walked into class and when the bell rang I would request that they put any papers they still had back into the folder and they could finish the next day. 

If a class got delinquent in passing out the papers I would grab a pile and hand out chunks of it to students to pass back as they walked in.

This is everything in use midway through the year. 
Side Note: I did put aside about fifteen minutes a week to "Organize" our papers. We tape papers into their notebooks in my class. 
Pick Up Table and Pass Back Crate

This was my procedure for the year that I LOVED. LOVED. LOVED. I don't foresee changing much in the future! The quotes on the desks are from an earlier post of mine

 I put up stars all over my classroom this year. The big patterned stars are for 100's on tests and the little stars are for A's on tests. I wanted a way to reward kids for their grades and it also brightened up the room a lot. The stars ended up wrapping around the ENTIRE room. The kids LOVED it. I gave them their stars off the wall at the end of the year

"My Classroom is me and I am it-- my classroom is where I like to be and it looks like all of my dreams"-- vaguely quoting "The Big Orange Splot" by Pinkwater


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  2. Thank you so much for making an organizing blog post for the Type B teacher! I keep seeing all these blogs from the organizing-fiend teachers and though I envy them, I could never be successful with their suggestions. I'll try some of these tips out next year.