A jigsaw is the perfect way to bring students together in pursuit of a common goal. Students work in small, interdependent groups where they each become an “expert” on one… Read more »Read More about How to Create a Jigsaw Classroom
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Start the year off right by taking time now to organize and optimize your classroom. Organizing physical space isn’t just about sorting and labeling. It’s also about time management and peace of mind.
Here are seven steps for conquering clutter and creating a welcoming and orderly classroom.
Reflect on last year in your journal or on some scratch paper. Which systems of organization worked? Which didn’t? What materials did you frequently use, and what was left gathering dust? Were students able to move freely without distracting others to get a hall pass, turn in homework, or grab materials?
Now, it’s time to make a mess. That’s right; to get your classroom ready for the school year, you first have to go through total disorder. Remove everything in your desk, closets, bookshelves, and bins. Place every item out in the open. It’s important that all your items are visible so that nothing is hidden, or you might be tempted to skip over a section.
Next, examine each piece individually. Ask yourself: Did this item contribute to my instruction and bring value to my classroom last year? If the answer is no, place it in one of three piles: toss, recycle, or donate.
This approach is very similar to the “KonMari Method” described in The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up , in which readers are instructed to hold each item and remove anything that is not essential or doesn’t bring joy.
Now it’s time to enjoy the cathartic task of clearing out all those items you sorted. Not sure where to go with your recyclables? Use Earth911 to search for a local recycling center.
This is also a time when you can help others by donating new and gently used classroom items. There are many options for school supply donations:
At this stage, your classroom will look pretty messy. Accept the temporary chaos; it’s necessary for a fresh start. Use these two guiding principles when organizing:
Students with special needs may require additional organization and design considerations.
For inspiration check out this tour of a structured one-on-one work area created for a student with autism.
So much of your year is spent in your classroom. Make this time enjoyable with touches that reflect your personality and create a welcoming environment. Sites like Pinterest offer endless inspiration, and this Book Nook idea is a great place to start.
Following these steps gets your classroom ready to welcome students and prepares you to embrace the coming school year feeling organized and rejuvenated. To learn more about how to get organized, check out our course, Operation Organization: Establishing Order in Your Classroom .