By Dana Truby, Megan Kaesshaefer
“What’s the secret to avoiding art messes? How can you make your room orderly without emptying out Office Depot?” Here is a selection from 100 teacher tips for creating a beautiful, organized environment (click the link to see all 100).
1. Address Stickers
Brand anything as yours—classroom library books, rulers, staplers—with a return-address sticker, and they just may stick around.
2. Download It!
From field trip forms to IEP progress reports to “No Homework!” reward coupons, you can find dozens of free downloadable templates at toolsforteachers.org. Better yet, each form can be customized for your needs.
3. Number Line
Assign each of your students a number. Then have them write their name and number on every paper. It makes assignments easy to keep track of and grades quick to enter.
4. Label Everything
Place labels and photos on shelves and containers. It will make cleanup quicker and you won’t have to field a thousand questions a day about where things go!
5. Hide It Away
Ugly storage area? Hit the fabric store and look for a bright fabric or remnant. Use safety pins to hang kids’ work or to make it into a word wall.
6. Reduce Clutter
Weed out all unnecessary clutter. Use crates and baskets for those things you want out of sight but handy when needed.
7. Start at the End
I have a calendar for the entire year. I take notes on major themes, brainstorm books, then I break down each book into themes and skills. I count the days and work backwards to fit it all in.
8. Tangles of Wires
Slip wires through two or more empty paper towel tubes to contain them. For an even better look, have kids cover them with colored paper first.
9. Too Much Art
So much artwork, so little wall space. When kids’ work piles up, take photographs of their masterpieces and post them on your website, or make them into an inexpensive photo book. (Try shutterfly.com or snapfish.com.)
10. A five-minute daily clean routine can help keep the germs at bay and your classroom gleaming. Have your helpers of the day use disinfectant wipes to scrub down these hot spots:
- Light switches
- Cabinet handles
- Drawer pulls
- Water fountains
11. Brain Break
Between activities, have kids take turns acting out a fun or silly thing (e.g., catch and reel in a fish, hit a home run and then cheer for yourself)
12. Style Code
I place a letter (A=Auditory, V=Visual, K=Kinesthetic) by each lesson plan idea to keep track of learning styles.
13. Math on Monday
Try to plan one subject’s lessons for the next week each day. On Tuesdays, plan social studies, etc.
14. Kitchen Timer
Multipurpose tool of the gods. Use it for transitions, group time, journaling, cleanup time.
15. Teach Study Skills
Never assume kids know how to study. Teach them how to review a chapter.
16. Library Cards
When students borrow a book, have them write the name of the book on an index card and place it in a pocket chart. Later they can write about the book on the back on the card.
17. Match Up
Place stickers (yellow stars, blue circles) on your baskets and the books inside and they’ll be easy to return to the right place.
18. Student Information Sheets
I send home student information forms the first week. On the back of the sheet is a contact log I use all year long.
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