Around the middle of the school year I remember looking around my classroom and suddenly feeling overwhelmed by my ever growing to-do list. I would stand and ask myself all of these questions…
”Does everything look dusty?”
“Would that table look better over there?”
“How do I make stations more efficient?”
“How do I make time to organize our storage cabinets?”
As the year went on, I would find things getting cluttered and less efficient, because quite simply…I was tired! Let’s face it, work/life balance is nearly impossible when you are a teacher. Are you feeling this way? Staying late at work every single day and still not feeling prepared for the next day? You are not alone! We hear this from teachers often! Take a deep breath and try these strategies to become THE organized teacher that leaves on time each day *sigh* What a dream!
HAVE A PLAN
The first step to becoming an organized teacher is to have a plan. With so many things to cross off your to-do list, “winging it” is just not going to do the trick. Without a plan, I would find myself starting ten tasks only to not finish a single one. Have something specific in mind that you would like to accomplish that day to work towards an organized classroom. This does not have to be a grand plan of changing routines or rearranging your entire classroom, it can be something as simple as decluttering that one shelf in the storage cabinet or clearing out that desk drawer that drives you crazy. Come in with a plan and accomplish that task for the day no matter how small – it makes a difference in the long run!
TO-DO LISTS ARE YOUR FRIEND
When I feel stressed, making a list always clears my mind. Sometimes your brain is full of so many things to do, it helps to simply write (or type) them to get those thoughts out into the open. When you start to feel overwhelmed by your thoughts and dreams of what you would like to achieve, sit down and make a list of the steps that can help you get there. Remember that to-do lists are a marathon, not a sprint. You may not be able to cross everything off your list right away, but knowing what needs to be accomplished and slowly working towards your goal is key.
GIVE EVERYTHING A PLACE
In order to declutter your classroom, one simple tip that works wonders is to give everything in your classroom a home. Be sure that important items students use often are in a space where they stay that is easy to locate or put away. By doing so, students help your classroom to stay organized and you have less cleaning up to do at the end of your work day. This goes for you too, teachers! Give your items a home as well. This way, the item that you need for your upcoming lesson is in its place and ready for you to find quickly.
MAKE ITEMS LAST
Your future self will thank you for this one. Rather than reinventing the wheel every year, try to make items that will last! If you think you may reuse the items for a recent lesson again the following year, laminate reusable items. I am guilty of quickly printing off that lesson in a pinch from TPT and throwing things away with the thought “eh, I will just do this again next year”. Take the time to make quality items for your lessons, spend the extra minutes taking care of them and saving them. It may take a little more time this year, but in the future you will be much less stressed!
PRO TIP: Fluency and Fitness is a one stop shop for lessons! Members can even keep their digital resources organized by using our “Favorites” feature to make your own folders and save games.
ORGANIZE THE HIDDEN JUNK
The phrase “out of sight out of mind” doesn’t really work when it comes to that classroom cabinet that haunts you. While it may not be out in the open for everyone to see when they enter your room, in the back of your mind that junk cabinet is always there. You can never feel fully organized when you know that behind that cabinet door there is chaos. Take small steps to organize what is hidden behind those cabinet doors. You may knock out the entire cabinet in one long sitting, or you may work slowly on one shelf at a time. Either way, you are making progress, purging the junk, and making your way to the new, improved, proactive YOU.
FRIDAY CLEAN UP
When I was in the classroom, we took about ten minutes at the end of the day on Fridays to do a little “Friday Clean Up” and prepare for the next week. Students would organize their supplies, be sure their work stations were cleared and ready. They would even dust, clean white boards off, sharpen pencils, etc. This quick ten minutes helped me (and students) to feel like we had a fresh start every Monday morning when we came back from the weekend!
LEAVE ON TIME (IT WILL STILL BE THERE TOMORROW)
Remember to give yourself grace. Teaching requires your energy, time, and heart day in and day out. Becoming THE organized teacher you aspire to be may not happen over night and everything will still be there the next day. Start small and take baby steps. These strategies will help you to be that proactive, efficient, prepared teacher you hope to be!
Need tips on organizing your literacy and math files? Check out this blog post from Tickled Pink in Primary to go the extra mile in your organized teacher journey!