I Want to Get Better at… Organization Next Year

Summer 2017 I want to get better at...

The daily craziness of being a teacher can make it hard to stay organized. Just when you’ve got your desk cleared off, stacks of papers come flying in. Or right after you spent time tidying up, in come students to mess everything up again.

This summer, you won’t have students in your classroom. You won’t even be in your classroom! But that doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about how to make classroom organization go more smoothly next year. In fact, taking a step back and planning systems that work can be more productive than acting reactively to every pile of papers.

If you’re looking to get better at organization, these resources can help!

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What Do You Believe About Teaching And Learning?

Setting Up Your Classroom Deep Dive Blog Header

I’ve always been one of those people who has a tough time really wrapping my head around the new school year until the physical space of our classroom is ready. That may be the residue of years of Augusts in my mom’s 4th grade classroom, watching her think and craft and organize in the most enthusiastic ways. It could be a little of my penchant for tidy spaces. But, most likely, it’s because I know the actual work of teaching is so unpredictable, so kinetic, so messy, that having our classroom space ready gives me a sense of calm.

Space is important. It’s not everything. It doesn’t have to define us (I know so many of you teach in spaces that are difficult to work with), but the way we use the space we have can reflect what we believe about teaching and learning. In fact, it does reflect what we believe. It’s the first message anyone gets about what learning will look like in this classroom. And I know this matters to you. In a recent “Ask Sarah” column, I answered a reader’s question about what an ideal classroom can look like.

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Should All Teachers Have Their Own Classroom?

Tch Laureate Team

I was frustrated.

I was angry.

I get it. I work in a Title I school with overcrowded classes where not every teacher is blessed to have their own room, especially new teachers. I was fortunate to have my own room for my first year of teaching. I already tasted what it was like to have my very own space, which is why it was that much harder to give it up. Year two I would roam.

It wasn’t easy to hear the bad news from the principal, especially because it dropped at the beginning of the first week of school. It’s moments like these when you feel unappreciated, devalued, and sometimes you want to quit. The thought of traveling to six different classrooms throughout the day made me feel defeated from the start. Six different rooms. That meant six different seating charts, six different classrooms to set up, six different offices, six different teachers to negotiate with, and the list goes on. As predicted, I had a miserable first week of school, but my despair ended quickly. After that first week, I realized that roaming as a second year teacher would be beneficial to my growth as a professional.

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Reimagine Your Learning Space: Starbucks Your Classroom!

Hey!

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen each other. I know we don’t talk that often these days, so I thought I’d drop you a line and see what’s been happening with you.

How are you? How’s your summer? Hot? Are you chillin’ like a villain? Doing some grillin’? I wish I was… But I’m not. I’m kinda’ blah right now. I’m bored. And I’m boring, too. I’ve looked the same for centuries, and that’s a long time. Trust me.

Look, I’m not saying it’s your fault. And, I’m not saying you don’t care. I’m just saying that I’m in need of an update in the worst way… I’m Outdated. Constricting. Confining. Compromising. I’m Obsolete! You know what I’m saying? I want a change. I need a change. I must change!

No more rows, columns, grey, and gloom. No more control — it’s an illusion.

Collaboration is where it’s at. Communication, creativity, and critical thinking are what I want to emulate, stimulate, cultivate, and propagate.

What you say mate?

How about some couches, armchairs, coffee tables, high tables with stools, restaurant style tables, standing tables, a rug, and maybe even a yoga mat? How about you make me look like Starbucks, but cooler? Can you do this for me?

I promise you won’t be disappointed and the kids will love it.

Stay cool.

Yours truly,

Your Classroom

Boring Classroom

What Does Your Classroom Communicate?

As teachers, we spend a great deal of time in our classrooms. Sometimes it may even feel like we’ve moved in. I imagine our students feel the same. If we’re going to spend most of our time in our rooms, the space should feel good. It should feel comfortable. A classroom should inspire creativity and productivity, but that’s not always our reality. When something is off in your classroom — when your design lags behind your teaching style — you can feel it. It’s almost as if your classroom is trying to tell you something needs to change.

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If A Teacher Were To Build An App . . .

There’s an urban legend in education that says new teachers will begin their careers as “roamers,” or traveling teachers, in overcrowded high schools. I suppose I was an anomaly. I had my own, beautiful classroom for my first year of teaching, but the glory was short lived. I became a “roamer” in my second year. Traveling to five different classrooms — one for each passing period — isn’t exactly thrilling. Needless to say, I was very disappointed to be displaced.

Was I really going to let this little setback ruin my year? Of course not!

Rather than looking at my new situation as a problem, I used this experience as an opportunity to try something brand new; something completely outside the box. I would redefine classroom. I would build a mobile app — a “mobile classroom” to fill the void.

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#TchLIVE: Constructing Our Learning Spaces

As the school year begins with laminating machines firing up, photocopy machines heating up, and all kinds of technology charging up, there’s this question teachers often ask each other in hushed tones: “Is your room ready yet?”

I’m sure you’ve heard every intonation of this question. There’s the energetic-excited-enthusiastic voice, just hoping you’ll ask her so she can tell you about every corner of her space. There’s the voice hoping for camaraderie and absolution in not having started yet. And there’s the common, but understated, “Well, it’s as ready as it’s going to be because the kids are coming tomorrow.” You know she’s exhausted every ounce of creativity and purposefulness with every name plate, every Pinterest organizational idea, every word wall and responsibility chart.

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A Back-to-School Backpack Just For You

2015 Back-To-School Backpack

As kids plan for back to school, they (and their families) often think about backpacks. Do I need a new one, or is my old one just fine? How big should it be? How will I make it my own?

For kids going to school for the very first time, getting a backpack is a rite of passage. When you’re ready for your own backpack, you’re ready for your own adventures. You can bring the things you need, and take home what you created and collected throughout the day. While what’s on the outside of a backpack is often about personal style, it’s really about the things students carry inside them, especially the things that are meant for their eyes only. Maybe it’s a secret journal, a book to read in the quiet moments between classes, the small stuffed animal tucked inside an inner compartment just in case it’s needed. And, backpacks often carry brand new supplies that get students excited to go back to school after summer break.

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Your Back-To-School Backpack

2015 Back-To-School Backpack

Welcome to Teaching Channel’s very own Back-To-School Backpack. We’ve filled it with four fresh notebooks on subjects we know are important to think about at the start of the school year. While brand new notebooks with blank pages are exciting, it’s also comforting to have some starter ideas. Each notebook contains carefully selected links to related Teaching Channel content that can support you in the back-to-school journey.

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