Classroom Organizational Ideas: Part 2

organization Pic 1





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EdTech537-Week 8-Blog Post 2

Here are six more things I do in the classroom to help maintain my sanity. Teacher Sanity = Teacher’s Family Sanity!! In organizational post #1, I focused on how to deal with paperwork. For this post, I am going to talk about organizing your classroom planning techniques. Do you plan for class the night before? Do you lose sleep because you are not sure if you have everything ready for the next day? Then these helpful hints are for you!!

6. Make Homework Calendars!!

  • These are good for the teacher, good for the student and great for parents!
  • Simply make a table of each section you plan to cover and the HW you want to assign with it.
  • This should also work for topics other than math.
  • It helps the teacher stay on pace in today’s demanding curriculum pacing.
  • When students are absent they already have the new HW assignment.
  • Post the calendar on your website so anyone can access it at anytime.
  • Make adjustments the first 2-3 years, after which time the calendar is most likely the way you want it!!
  • Is math HW important? Read this article!!

7. Update a Plan Book an Entire Unit/Chapter at a Time

  • I still write everything down in a plan book, then I can have it open on my desk, in hand when I update the agenda on my white board, or visible when I am entering assignments and dates for grade entry.
  • There is also technology available to keep track of your daily classroom plans, but I haven’t found it to be more efficient…yet.
  • I write down my plans in pencil, because plans can change and pencil erases.
  • I organize my plans by date and write down what I am doing in every class each day.
    • Each day I list my Entry Event (warm up or pop quiz), HW Discussion (or not), the New Topic, the Instructional Technique (guided notes, group task, computer lab) and HW Page.
    • I add pass back papers on review days, returning test days and Mondays as needed.
  • By writing down an ENTIRE unit at a time, you save yourself time by not trying to do this everyday.
  • By the time I am in the 3rd year of a curriculum, I can usually rely on what I wrote down the year before!!
  • Also during this phase, I put in all my copy requests for the unit.

8. Make File Folders for each Day of the Week

  • This is an unusual technique that I developed out of necessity due to not having a classroom for almost six years. You heard that right, I roamed classrooms for almost SIX years and still stayed at the same school…long story that needs a separate post!!
  • Make a file folder for each day of the week and simply label Monday, Tuesday, … Friday!
  • Make a set for each course you teach.
  • Use another portable file box to store these folders with your prepping materials.
  • Every other week, after school on Thursday or Friday, place all materials in the file that you need to teach class each day for the next week or two!!
    • If something is not ready yet, I highlight it in my plan book so I remember to prep it.
    • I put in warm ups, HW answers, my guided notes with answers, group activity notes, task cards, copies for the students, and quizzes or tests.
    • I put them in order so it matches my agenda for the day.
    • If something is bulky, I wait to get it out the night before.
  • After school each day I clean up my papers from the day, grab the folders for the next day and do a quick check for all materials.
    • If there is an activity, then I set out the supplies needed during the quick check.
    • This is when I will set out bulky items.

9. Keep 3-Ring Binders of Your Creations

  • Label another file folder, To File Later. I keep one for each course I teach in the portable file box from #8 above.
  • At the end of each day, put all your copies of notes and answers in this folder.
  • Pick a day when you have more time, and file everything away for next year…it takes me about 30-45 minutes.
  • I try to file everything for a unit/chapter at the end of each chapter.
  • Here are some ideas on what you should be filing to save yourself time the following year.
    • Previous Calendars – write yourself notes on what to fix the following year and just update on the computer later.
    • Lesson Plans –
      • Are you using guided notes, a group activity, an exit ticket, a HW worksheet? File everything here.
      • Not only do I file all master copies, I refile extra copies to save paper.
    • HW Solutions – Work out your solutions once and save them!!
    • Quizzes and Tests – Keep your master copies, extra copies and answers all in one spot ready to go.

10. Write the Daily Agenda on the White Board

  • One of my pet peeves is when students walk in the room and ask for a one-on-one conference about what we are going to do today in class!! Okay, why would I want to state the objectives for the day, 32 times as students enter? Instead I respond, read the agenda on the board…sometimes this is accompanied with a growl. Sometimes another student will answer for me as I walk away. (This is my fave!) However, I don’t know why this bothers me so much!?
  • After school, I grab my super organized plan book, and just write down the main highlights for the next day or two.

11. Do Not Collect HW Every Day

  • I have students keep all HW in one graph paper notebook.
  • My students grade their own HW the day it is due, then they have immediate personal feedback.
  • At the end of each unit/chapter, on test day I collect all HW notebooks from all students.
  • Every assignment is scored to hold students accountable and emphasize the importance of math HW.
  • Then my TA scores HW on a rubric system, which does not include accuracy.
    • Since you asked, my rubric is simple. I stamp HW the day it is due, students self score and make corrections in class.
    • Each HW is worth 5 points, then a point is lost when the stamp is missing, a score is missing or if a student did not make corrections.
    • Another point can be lost if there are three or more missing problems.
  • I do not look at HW…I repeat, I do not look at HW!! There are many other ways I would rather check for understanding then when a student tried a new technique for the very first time!! See my previous organizational post under #5 Get a Teaching Assistant…
  • I have to repeat my personal opinion – TEACHER ASSISTANTS ARE UNDER-VALUED!!

Final thoughts

To make this system work, I usually stay late at school one day per week. I have a busy schedule as I tutor two full nights a week then want to spend some time with my daughter too! The rest of the week, I try to leave at a reasonable time.

I hope these ideas help someone, anyone out there. More importantly, I hope these ideas potentially help save a teaching career. Teaching is a super intense commitment during the school year. Both teachers and students need those vacations to recharge before the next session begins. Good luck to everyone reading this!!



Filed under AECT Standard 2.4

4 responses to “Classroom Organizational Ideas: Part 2

  1. Heather Lodwick

    Wow I think I mentioned this in your previous post, but I can’t wait until I’m at that point in my career where I can tell you exactly what I do! I am still figuring things out! One thing I do that you mentioned and I completely agree with is the agenda board. Last year I devoted an entire whiteboard (my room had a ton of white board space) to a weekly agenda. It bothers me a lot when students constantly ask and I think it’s because I’m already reteaching the same lesson six times a day so the more I have to repeat that isn’t planned is just too much!

    • Hi Heather: Yes indeed, these ideas are from years and years of polishing my organizational processes. I can’t even tell you how many times I have changed things. Also, everyone has their different styles and spaces, so things change under different circumstances as well!! Thanks!!

  2. Angie, you should really consider taking all your tips and put them into a handbook or guide for new teachers! Your tips are excellent and I’m sure they really help your students succeed.

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