By Teachers, For Teachers
Once the New Year has come and passed, and the students have finally settled into their daily routine again, it’s time to think about re-organizing your classroom. Mid-year is the perfect time to think about what has worked so far, and what has not. With a little classroom management, planning, and preparation, you can make the rest of the school year sail smooth. Here are a few teacher-tested classroom management organizational strategies to get you through the rest of the school year.
Take a moment and look around your classroom. Do you like the seating arrangement? Do you find that it is working for you and your students? Look at your classroom walls, bulletin boards, and door decorations. Have you kept up with them, or are they the same ones that you put up in the beginning of the school year? Think about each component of your space and what you need to change to freshen it up.
Once you have taken the time to think about what you like and don’t like in your classroom, and what is and isn’t working for you thus far, you need to then create a schedule. Make a list of the supplies and materials that you need, and plan for your time to get it done. For example, if you know that you need to change your door decoration every month, put it on the schedule that on the first day of every month you must change it. Creating a schedule will help you stay organized.
Take an hour after school and tear down all of those old classroom decorations. Better yet, when you have extra time in class, have the students take down the old decorations for you. Prepare for the upcoming holidays like Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter. Just the old saying goes, “Down with the old, and up with new.”
Take a moment and re-evaluate how your classroom is running. Have students gotten the hang of where their homework goes and how classroom transitions work? If you find that your current set up isn’t working, then change it. A little tweak here and there will not disrupt the classroom community, it will only help it.
Treat midyear like the first day of school and review your classroom rules and routines. By now you know what is working and what is not, so you can omit or add to your rules and routines so your classroom will run a little smoother from here on out.
If students’ desks have not been changed since the beginning of the school year, then now is the time to change them. Try a new configuration than what students are used to. If you find that it doesn’t work, then you can always change it back. Just make sure that you put some thought into it before changing students’ seats, because you want to make sure to separate students who you know will have personality conflicts.
If students are used to the same old call-and-response to get their attention, then maybe this time of year is the perfect time to change it up. Stay current and try a call back where you say “Hey” and the students say “Ho.” Students will like this because it’s from a popular song that is on the radio. If you find that a call-and-response system is too young-centered for your students, then try using a wind chime or the tap of mallet on your desk to get their attention.
Midyear is the perfect time to offer students some new incentives. If you’re finding that students aren’t handing in their homework on time, then offer extra credit for the students that hand in their homework within a specific time period. Or, if you find that students are coming in late to class, offer a homework free pass to all students who are on time for one month straight. Sometimes a little incentive will go a long way.
You don’t have to keep every paper that you grade, only keep the important ones and those should go into a special folder like a student portfolio. If you have kept past papers or artwork that has been showcased in the classroom, midyear is the perfect time to give those papers back to the students. This will help you de-clutter your classroom, and make room for other student papers that will be showcased throughout the rest of the school year.
If you haven’t done so already, take the time to give each student a color-coded accordion file folder with his own unique number on it. This folder (which should have about 10-15 slots) should house everything from important essays to tests, quizzes and personal information. If you want to stay organized then this folder is a must-have.
Do you have any classroom organization tips that you would like to share? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear them. You never know, your one tip can be just the thing to change a teacher’s life!
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.