Not too long ago, I posted this image on our Instagram Page and asked for people to finish the sentence: "When my classroom is clean, I feel..."
Majority of the responses to this post included feelings of being a better teacher, organized, settled, prepared, and calm. However, I know as the year goes on, it can become difficult to keep the classroom looking like DAY ONE.
While i'm definitely not a fan of classrooms that look untouched all day long, I do believe that in between transitions, and at the end of the day, the classroom should be returned back to it's original state. When you allow your classroom to become a mess, it creates MORE work for the teacher and eventually it becomes too difficult to catch up.
I've organized some quick tips to keep your classroom from becoming a disaster that will help you and your students feel content. :)
1. Start with a Solid Organization System.
Everything in your classroom should have an assigned place
To download this checklist, click the image above.
2. Review, Review, Review Your Classroom Procedures for the 1st Two Weeks.
Go ahead and ignore the free Classroom Procedure Checklists that many educators have so graciously made for you, and you will immediately see your classroom management go out the window. Students will be out of their seats without permission, asking questions that you've already gave them the answers to, homework will never make it out of their book bags, and the list goes on...
The link below will take you to a bunch of different options. Choose the one that works best for you. Keep a copy of your procedures list in your teacher binder, clipboard, or bulletin near your desk. Reference it often throughout the year.
Note: You do not have to teach all the procedures day/week one. Some procedures won't be necessary until a little later in the year. Make sure you hit the most important ones first and fill in the rest when you see fit.
My top procedures are: Entering Classroom, Morning Work, Announcements, Lining Up, Hallway Procedures, Asking Questions, Recess Procedures, Cafeteria Expectations, Transitions, Carpet Time, Sharpening Pencils, (Minor) Emergency, (Major) Emergency, Restroom Procedures & Expectations, Student Notebooks, Clean-Up, Homework, Dismissal
3. Incorporate Student Jobs.
Most teachers include student jobs as part of their day to day routine. Not only does it enforce responsibility, but it helps to build community and allow the students to feel like they play an important role in the classroom. For the teacher, it takes some of the load off of you! Yes, "Teaching is a Super Power", but you do not have to do everything on your own. Sit back, relax, and allow your students to benefit from a very important life skill.
Now, what I have noticed, is some jobs tend to be more coveted than others. To build student involvement and ensure the work is completed, consider incentivizing the work load. Less desirable jobs should come with a higher pay. At the end of the week, the students can turn in their classroom dollars for a trip to the treasure chest, free time, etc.
If you're running low on cash, here's a couple of free incentives that your students can earn:
-Choose a Class Read Aloud
-Read to Another Class
-Positive Phone Call Home
-Lunch with Teacher
-Sit Next to a Buddy
4. Remain Consistent.
This tip is simple. In order for all this to work, you HAVE TO remain consistent. Provide multiple opportunities for your students to practice the rules and procedures and correct mistakes immediately. If you notice a student(s) is really struggling, perhaps a mini desk/center checklist will help them out.
At the end of the day, after dismissal, make sure you straighten out any loose ends and get all activities printed, copied, and prepped for the next day.
BONUS: Don't Be Afraid to Reclaim Your Time!
As (Auntie) Maxine Waters has shown us, your time is valuable! Do not allow people to waste your valuable planning periods, PERIOD. If you don't feel like the professional development you are receiving is valuable, then speak up. However, when you speak up, be sure to be mindful of your delivery and have a suggestion or offer to facilitate one of the team/faculty meetings. When you are working with your teacher peers, incorporate norms so that everyone's opinions and ideas are valued. Please, do not sit in a room because you feel obligated, when there are other more important tasks that can be done in your classroom to prepare for your students.
As always, I would love to hear from you! What do you do in your classroom to ensure sanity...i mean...organization throughout the school year? Scroll to the bottom to join our mailing list and/or leave us a comment. :)