I've been wanting to share some of my classroom organizing tips, and I finally got my ducks in a row enough to remember to take my camera to school so I could snap some pictures to share with you.
This first picture is my classroom set of number magnets. Each child is assigned a number which is purely for organizational purposes. I never refer to the kids by their numbers, which is the first thing that parents worry about when you start assigning numbers to their kids.
I get that. But it's not used in an impersonal way so it's really not an issue.
I have to give credit for this brilliant idea to my friend, Janet. She came up with this and it's being used by quite a few teachers in our school now.
As I mentioned, each student has their own number. When they enter the classroom in the morning, their first job is to move their number magnet to their lunch choice for that day. This enables me to take the lunch count and attendance at the same time and with the same tool.
The kids have two choices for lunch each day. The first choice is assigned the color purple, so I write that choice in purple dry erase marker in the first lunch choice section and that is where they move their magnet if they choose that for lunch. The second choice is assigned the color black, so I write that choice in black and the students move their magnets to that section if that is their choice. Finally, if they brought their lunch from home, they move it to that section.
When they're all done, I know how many students want choice number one, how many want choice number two, and the magnets that are still on their numbers are the students that are absent.
It's brilliant and efficient and I love it. Thank you, Janet.
For this system, I just went to Sam's Club and bought a magnetic white board. I sectioned the boxes off with Vis-a-Vis wet-erase markers. I use these because when I go to erase today's lunch choice and put up tomorrow's lunch choice, the border won't erase with the words. You can still erase those lines, but you need something wet to do so. That way you don't have to redraw the lines every day, and that's a big time saver.
I found the different colored flat glass marbles at Robert's and I hot-glued some strong button magnets to the back. I just used a permanent marker to write the numbers on. If you have students in the primary grades, you might want to go for the larger flat glass marbles, because they're still developing their fine motor skills and all that. And they have sweet little chubby fingers and hands.
These are my bathroom, library, and hall passes. They aren't anything fancy. I also made little corresponding signs which I adhered to jumbo sized popsicle sticks with packing tape. Whenever a student leaves the room, they have to put the sign that goes with their pass into their number pocket so I know where they are.
They do have to get my permission to leave the room first, but my short-term memory stinks so the signs remind me where the missing students are when I look to their desk and wonder where they are.
When I was teaching before, I had my students put a ginormous rubber spider on their desk when they were at the bathroom. If I were teaching middle school, I would probably do that again, except I'd maybe use fake plastic vomit instead of the spider. I would do that for middle school because you rarely have more than one student out of the room at a time. Elementary school is a different story.
I got this idea from my Organizational Hero, Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, who I taught with many years ago. He probably doesn't even remember who I am, but I got scads of anal organizing tips from him. People always ask me why I number my cupboards, and I get that it seems silly, but it can be incredibly helpful when you are asking a student to retrieve something for you and you don't have to waste time trying to describe which cupboard or drawer they can locate an item in. I wouldn't do it for my kitchen cupboards, but in the classroom I wouldn't do it any other way.
Since I first put this post up, I've made new numbers for my cupboards, and you can get some for yourself in this post.
For this last idea I don't have a good picture. But I can tell you what I use these for. I post an agenda on my white board every day because it helps me stay on track and it keeps the kids from constantly asking me what we are going to do next. Many things recur over and over again, so I just typed those things up on the computer, printed them out on white paper, cut them out, adhered them to cardstock, laminated them, and finally I stuck magnets on the back. This way I can just stick the appropriate item up in its place on the agenda, add any details that need to be added, and it saves me lots of time every day.
These are just a few of the things that I do in my classroom to save me time each day.