Monday, August 11, 2008

Classroom Organization Tips from Veteran Teachers

I facilitated the special education session during the DCPS New Teachers Orientation today. It is so refreshing to see excited and eager new teachers anticipating to meet their students on the first day of school. DCPS Clinical Psychologists were the presenters for the special education sessions; now I swear that I will work on finishing my PhD in Clinical Psychology so I can join their team soon. It's been long overdue.
After the NTO, I'll go back to my school to finish moving my things from Room 100 to Room 118. I want to be ready for my new students. Here's some tips from veteran teachers that are always helpful to me:

1. Use accordion folders with 10 to 14 slots to organize anything. It helps to keep assignments, activities, quizzes, tests, and lecture notes in order.
Beth Hayes West Liberty, WV Grade Levels: 9-12

2. Teach your class an attention code. I say "Hey" in a sing-song voice and the class responds with "Ho." This code alerts the children that they need to stop whatever they are doing and immediately look in my direction. This is useful in the classroom when the students are working in centers and I need their attention. If we are on the playground, my class is quickly distinguished from the others by this code.
Angie Dulaney Delhi Elementary School Delhi, LA Grade Levels: 3-5

3. Make a file folder for each child for all parent/teacher communication. Then all year you have a concise record of every note you have either written to or received from parents.
Jerri McCreless Brookwood Elementary School Tuscaloosa, AL Grade Levels: 3-5

4. Collect the kids' school supplies at the beginning of the year so they don't overfill the desks and floors. Label them with their names and do a bimonthly supply restocking.
Jane Armbruster University Park Creative Arts School Charlotte, NC Grade Levels: 3-5

5. You don't have to grade and record every paper or piece of writing. As a new teacher, I felt I had to read through every piece of their work, write comments, and record nearly everything in the grade book. Prioritize what work is important enough to grade, note which students aren't catching on, and then recycle the rest of the papers and worksheets!
NatalieSt. Cecilia School St. Louis, MO Grade Levels: 3-5

6. At the beginning of a new quarter give each student a piece of paper with three bathroom passes drawn on it. They may use them during the quarter, but if they do not, add extra points to their report card grades. It motivates the students to use the restroom during their normal breaktimes, and really cuts back on classtime disruptions!
Marissa Hurley Mt. Carmel School Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands Grade Levels: 3-5

7. Assign each child the number that corresponds to the number in the grade book. Each child writes that number in the upper right-hand corner of everything that has to be turned in. With this done, I can simply put the papers in numerical order and call out any missing numbers. It also helps with recording grades in the grade book and saves loads of time.
Angie Dulaney Delhi Elementary School Delhi, LA Grade Levels: 3-5

8. Make a class list with columns. Draw the necessary columns next to the students' names and assign headings that are appropriate for that specific list. It can be used to keep up as students bring in supplies, money for field trips, and important signed forms.
Sybil Derderian Shrine of the Little Flower Elementary School Royal Oak, MI Grade Levels: 3-5

9. Offer extra credit when you need papers back ASAP. Give the extra credit to all that return the papers within two days!
Jennell Ward Pines Middle School Pembroke Pines, FL Grade Levels: 6-8

10. Make an "Appointment Clock" at the beginning of each quarter. Draw an outline of a clock, but only label the times 12, 3, 6, and 9. Next to these numbers I draw a line. I run off enough for each student and use a different color for each quarter. Then give students 3 minutes to get an appointment (or partner) for each of the times. They must have four different people and can not repeat the previous quarter. They clip it into their binder and the next time I say, "Meet with your 12 o'clock partner" they know exactly who to go to.
JodiLyn Simmons-Machota Dirksen School Joliet, IL Grade Levels: 6-8

11. The first week of school, write all of your student's names on 3"x5" notecards. When looking for "helpers," taking turns reading, or answering questions refer to the names on the cards. This will give everyone an equal chance and keep them on their toes. Use a blank card to separate the beginning and end; when you get to the blank card shuffle the cards before going on. It also cuts down on discipline problems because if students are not doing what they should be, then they forfeit their turn.
Patti Kopp Sigel Elementary School St. Louis, MO Grade Levels: K-2

12. When I was a new teacher, I amassed materials. That was 12 years ago. Since then, I have taught many different subjects and ability levels. I have also moved classrooms more times than I can count. With the wonder of the Internet and scanners and CD burners, it is no longer necessary to carry (and move) loads of papers and books everywhere. If I were starting out now, I would
- a) choose a color-code system and stick to it from the get-go, and
- b) store as much electronically as possible.
I'm preparing to go back to school to a new position and have spent much of the summer re-organizing, cleaning out files (wow, the things I'd forgotten I had!) and minimizing clutter. If only I'd started out that way!
Good luck to all new teachers!
Shyrl Cone Third Grade Teacher Hartland, Michigan

13. Make sure you find out bus numbers for each child before school starts if you are a kindergarten, first grade or special education teacher.

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