Welcome to Week 3 of the Summer Workshop for New Teachers! This week we are talking about organization for new teachers – it is a necessary topic for all teachers! This could be the never-ending blog post if I tried to share all the organization resources, hacks, and teacher tips ever.
So, what makes organization so important that I feel confident in saying this is a topic that applies to all teachers? An organized classroom accomplishes several purposes:
- Less distraction for your time and attention
- Maintain a clearer focus on priorities
- More time to teach (and for yourself!)
- More control over your environment
- Less stress!
It’s important to start by breaking organization into smaller categories.
For instance, there is what I call “big picture” organization and “detail” organization. Some examples of “big picture” organization are curriculum maps, school wide plans like MTSS, or learning systems like Google Classroom; whereas “detail” organization is how you are going to sort and contain guided reading materials or math manipulatives, individual lesson plans or a classroom reward system.
One of the “big picture” ideas I like to advise people to think of first is their workflow. You would never come in and just wing it every day—you have lesson plans written, materials prepped, resources ready, etc. Beyond that, though, is workflow.
Workflow is knowing what tasks are best done when.
For example, in my case, I usually had about an hour each day before school. I knew in that time I wanted to check email, have all my materials laid out for the day and confer with any other people (parent volunteers, student teachers, etc.) that might be working with me in the classroom that day.
After school, I often chatted with colleagues, but was fortunate that most of the time they came to me. During this time, I could pick up materials and put them back where they belonged, set up the schedule for the next day and clean up if needed, all while still having that important social interaction with friends.
Since I preferred not to take work home, I stayed one night a week later than normal to copy and prep materials so that my plan time was truly used to plan or for just taking a break if I needed one—we’ve all been there, right?
This is what worked for me in the stage of life I was in and schedule I had. Your workflow will likely be different, and that is ok—the importance is in having one, not that it is identical to mine or anyone else’s.
As a new teacher, this may take some time to figure out. I would caution you, though, that just because you are new teacher, that doesn’t mean that you should be the first car in and the last car out of the parking lot every day.
Yes, you may put in more late nights or early mornings than some colleagues for awhile, but you don’t have to work all the time. We’ll talk more about that in future blog posts.
Basic Organization Tips for New Teachers
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, if I shared every hack there ever was when it comes to organization, we would be here forever! But I do want to share a few important general tips for you.
The first one is what Rachelle Smith from What The Teacher Wants calls the ABC’s of organization. Assess, bundle, and containerize. You first have to assess your classroom space and materials. Then try to bundle like items together, and then decide how you will contain them. This is a very individual process, but I will definitely share some ideas of things that have worked for myself or other teachers on my social media.
However, organization is very personal – some people prefer to have paper copies of things while others have everything organized digitally. Whether you prefer paper or digital, there will always be some volume of paper to contend with, so you have to decide whether you want binders or file folders or bins for the paper.
As you can see, if we went into all of that, this would be an extremely long post! Experiment with different options and see what feels right to you.
I would also recommend having one place to jot notes of things that come up throughout the school day. Did you know that it has been reported that the average teacher makes 1,500 educational decisions in a day? (see my Facebook Page for the research).
That is four decisions per minute assuming a six-hour instructional day, so it doesn’t even account for time outside of that window. This makes teachers quite possibly the most decision-heavy profession of all. With all of those decisions to make, it is no wonder we get to the end of the day and forget to call Johnny’s mother like we said we would or that we need a class set of copies for the next day’s math lesson.
This is why I recommend having one place in your room close to where you spend the most time to jot down reminders as they come to you. This could be a section of your white board, an app on your phone or computer, or a master list.
This week’s freebie is a master list based on workflow—a place to jot your reminders in the time frame you need to do them in. You can make multiple copies or a more eco-friendly version would be to size it to fit an 8 x 10 or 5 x 7 frame and use a dry erase marker.
Just enter your information below to get that freebie ⬇️⬇️
Hopefully, this post will help you get one step closer to being the most organized teacher you can be! Happy teaching!