By Teachers, For Teachers
With every new year comes new goals and resolutions. Last summer, I decided my new school year goal would be to tackle the piles and piles of paperwork that are always overtaking my desk.
Admittedly, I am a naturally messy person. The paraprofessionals in my classroom (who I cannot live without) have learned this and do not attempt to go behind my desk as they know they may get lost in my piles. When we rang in 2012 (ok, I was asleep…) I knew that I would really need to focus on getting my classroom organized so that I when it comes time for me to go out on maternity leave in March, someone else can take over without too much confusion.
Being a special education teacher requires an extra level of organization due to all of the IEP paperwork. I may be a mess, but I do know where everything is located. It was just time to create a apply a method to the madness.
Since my reorganization effort, I have begun to use binders to manage all of the important documents that I need be easily accessible while I’m teaching and readily available for meetings.
This year I created a teacher binder. This binder houses several sections, including:
for each grade level I teach.
I found the idea for this while stalking blogs and checking out pinterest over the summer. I have found that having all of this information in one spot has been a great resource for me.
My teacher binder used to contain a section for each student, but it was getting WAY to thick.
With all of the data collection that we do in special education, I had to move this information to its own binder. In this binder I have a section for each student that includes:
I really like this binder because when I go to an IEP meeting, I just bring it with me and I have all of the student’s data at my fingertips. It also helps when I am adding progress notes to an IEP. I can easily access the information I need.
In my first year of teaching, I made the sub binder after a substitute teacher complained that she did not have enough information from me. I vowed to never get this complaint from another sub. Now, this binder houses everything a sub may need for the day:
When you open it, in the pocket is any forms the sub may need that day such as notes to the nurse, time out notes, etc.
It also has a small ziplock bag with band aides and rubber gloves.
The first page in the substitute binder is an introduction to my classroom. It has a short paragraph thanking the sub for coming in for me. Then it lists people that can help the sub along with phone numbers for the nurse, office, and other special education teachers.
This page also list some of the classroom routines such as bathroom procedure and sharpening pencils. Depending on the case load I have each year, this page changes slightly.
Emergency Sub Plans
My Emergency Sub Plans are go-to activities/ plans that are used only if I am not able to write plans for the day. I clearly state this and highlight it. Some years I actually put these in a separate folder so that there is no confusion.
The following section has Student information. I have a list of my students along with what grade level they are in and which teacher. I then also include a brief blurb about that student.
Depending on the student they may get an entire page dedicated just to them. This really depends on the students specific needs.
This section gives the sub some ideas on what they can do to fill time if needed. I have directions for games like 7-up and a page of jokes and riddles appropriate for the classroom.
I have done lots of other things to keep my classroom organized this year. Some of worked great (like my binder), some have been a huge failure (like not having a designated time out chair… what was I thinking?).
Another organizational strategy that has worked great this year is using file crates as seats and storage. I saw the idea on a blog this summer and my mom and I tackled them one day. The kids have loved using these seats during circle time, independent reading and just to sit on as an alternative seating option. I have loved them because when they students move them around they offer some sensory input, I can store all kinds of things in them and I can put them almost anywhere. If you would like to see how I made file crate seats, find directions on my Learning Ahoy blog.
I could keep going on and on about organization in the classroom, but what I really need to do is go organize something. Here are some of the resources I use to help me. I am also adding ideas as I find them to my Pinterest board.
Classroom Organization Books:
Places & Spaces by Debbie Diller
Classroom Organization Websites:
More Special Ed Resource Room Binder Tips
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