Let’s face it. Managing a classroom can be a daunting task. The more we can do to GET organized and STAY organized day after day, the less stress we’ll invite into an already stressful career. I’ve learned in ten years of teaching that SIMPLE is better! Here are some easy things you can implement TODAY to save time, energy, and SANITY!
1. Assign student numbers
I assign students a number according to the alphabetic order of their last names. I even have this number on their name tags so they constantly see it and remember to use it!
Students must write their numbers on their papers so I can quickly put the papers in order to grade and record them. I can also quickly see whose paper is missing!
Numbered papers make it easy to file them as well. Whether you send home papers nightly, or file them away to send home as signed papers, numbering students is a must!
I love this freebie from A Cupcake For the Teacher for calling on students using their numbers!
Keep up with where students are by using their numbers as well. You can use the numbers year after year! This idea comes from Spectacular 2nd Grade.
2. Have a plan for early finishers.
There’s nothing worse than early finishers disrupting the class. The whole group gets thrown off course! Have a plan in place for your early finishers to work on or do…something productive yet quiet and unobtrusive.
BOGGLE is a fun activity that encourages students to spell and to work with words. I’ve seen many Boggle boards out there, but this use of magnetic letters and washi tape is simply adorable!
I love how Snazzy in Second gives her students differentiated extra work and awards them “Brownie Points” for completing assignments. She even has a cute freebie you can download to go with your Brownie Points system!
I have some free “I’m Done, Now What?” task cards in my TPT shop. Display as few or as many of these as you want on your white board, and students always have a visual of extra activities they can complete!
3. Give students a “Finish Folder.”
All of my students have a Finish Folder in their seat sacks. This is where unfinished work goes when it’s time to move on to our next activity. I also fill up this folder when they’re absent and miss out on lessons. Students know that this is their FIRST fast finisher activity. The items in their Finish Folder must be completed! The Happy Teacher calls it a “Ketchup Folder” and she has a free printable on TPT! Grab it below!
4. Have ONE Helper of the Day
I honestly got tired of having 20 different jobs to rotate, explain, and remind students to do day after day. So I have one new helper EVERY day! This helper is available to do whatever I ask! They get special seating privileges, to be the line leader, to choose where they want to sit at lunch, and to pick a friend to help them wipe down the lunch tables after we eat. I also ask them to do other things as needed…run an errand, pass out or take up papers, water the plants, etc. We rotate through the leaders every day, so no one gets tired of having the same job. Plus, I don’t have ONE MORE management tool to worry about changing out…a classroom helper chart. You can go through the alphabet/student numbers as I do. Or you could put sticks in a jar and choose one helper randomly every day until everyone has had a turn!
5. Keep parents informed–consistently.
I’m trying to do a better job of keeping parents informed–in a consistent manner. This year I created some simple, ink friendly weekly newsletters that are cute and scrappy. Each Friday, I pull up the following week’s newsletter, type in the homework assignments, spelling words, test dates, class news, and other important reminds and copy it front/back. Then it’s ready to send home on Monday. This process takes me about 5 minutes! You can check out my editable, pre-dated newsletters here:
6. Use Nightly Folders.
In the past I’ve used elaborate folders with lots of headings and sections and I’ve had trouble keeping up with everything (and have probably confused my parents in the process!). Now, I use a basic two pocket, three-pronged plastic folder. I label the front pocket “LEFT AT HOME” (with a left hand image) and the right pocket “SEND RIGHT BACK” (with a right hand image). There’s a zipper pouch in the front for parents to send in money, notes, etc. I include a copy of that month’s Spelling Menu (found in the packet below):
I also include a monthly behavior calendar. A good day gets a sticker… a bad day gets a behavior code. Parents are asked to initial the calendar each night! I got my behavior calendars from Jessica Williamson for only $3 and she edits them EVERY year for the new calendar year! GREAT purchase!
This is truly the EASIEST, fastest system I’ve ever tried! I send home our daily papers each night in the folder. If I don’t have time to grade something, it goes home the next day! Students know to take their folder out and place it in our basket every morning as soon as they arrive.
These tips have evolved over the course of my ten year career. They’ve truly saved me time and energy and freed me up to create, teach, and enjoy my kiddos. I hope some of these tips and tricks will inspire you!
I posted some FREE classroom supply labels a few weeks ago, and I wanted to be sure you had the chance to grab them. If you do, PLEASE be kind and leave feedback. It’s always appreciated! I laminated my labels, punched holes in them, and hung them from colorful Dollar Tree baskets using ring clips!
Do you want these *free* labels? Go grab them here:
Are you prepping for back to school? I am! I’ve been at my school for 6 years now, and I realized I’ve changed grade level 5 times and rooms 3 times! I’m planning on camping out in first grade in my new room for a VERY long time, so I wanted it to be just right! I’ll be showing little snippets of it over the next week or so, and then I’ll follow up with the grand reveal!
First up, I have a TON of books (as do most teachers). I wanted to have a colorful, USEFUL classroom library set-up! My husband built this massive shelf for me last year, and he painted it Ceylon Cream. I bought baskets to match my theme and colors from The Dollar Tree.
I designed book basket labels to go with every series, author, theme, and curriculum topic I could think of! The red baskets on the bottom shelf are monthly baskets for books I read in those months. Here’s a better peek at my book basket labels:
I attached the labels using velcro dots. That way, as I change out the labels and book bin contents during the year, I’ll just velcro on a new label!
Here’s the system we’ll follow for browsing and borrowing. I created number labels for my students. I’ll hot glue these to a ruler or a paint stir stick. Students will use this number stick as they browse and borrow to hold their place in the box their book is from. They can’t take their stick out and get another book until the book they have has been placed in the correct box.
I’ll share my method for keeping up with all the additional books I have and how I’ll rotate the content on the shelves later this week!
If you want to get my book basket labels and student numbers, they’re available here on sale for 20% off this week:
Hey y’all! I hope you’re enjoying your summer. One thing I’m doing this summer is moving classrooms. I’m fortunate to have a key to my building and access to my classroom 24/7 (private school!). So I’ve been working QUITE a bit! But I actually find it fun, so it doesn’t feel like work (*most days*). I wanted to share a few tips for how I’m organizing my desk space and my classroom and show you some of my creations and some of my finds…including a fun freebie!
First up…Birchbox! Who subscribes to Birchbox? Love, love, love it! The boxes are my main reason for wanting to subscribe. #truth
I wanted to find a way to use those beautiful boxes so I decided to turn them into desk drawer organization. I made stylish, scripty labels to place on top of my boxes, and I lined them up in a drawer all pretty-like! 🙂
Um…hello!!! How could you not grin when you opened this drawer?
P.S. The notecards are from Blair Turner Paper Co.
Wanna use your Birchboxes to organize your desk? Download these free labels:
Another fun way I’m getting organized this year is by using monthly binders. In these binders, I’m keeping plastic sheet holders to hold master copies I know I’ll need in that particular month. I’m also including a planning calendar in each folder outlining my proposed units for each week of that month. I made the notebook covers and spine covers black and white so they can be copied on any color paper you choose! I’ll organize them some this summer and some as I teach throughout the year so that by next year my master copies will be easy to get my hands on from month to month!
You can check out these goodies (along with some blank monthly planning calendars and a quarterly curriculum planner) here:
One last thing I’m doing to get organized is branching out from the traditional plastic tool box to organize my teacher tools. I’m going shabby chic instead! I found this ADORBS box at Marshall’s and had to have it! It was $30. I figured out the size of the label inserts and typed up a few scripty labels to hold my most used supplies!
How are you getting organized for the coming school year? I’d love to learn some more tips and tricks! 🙂