Susan Riley | October 2011
The Organized Classroom
As I have been traveling to various schools over the last few months, I have seen some really wonderful ways that classrooms have been organized to provide high-quality, efficient learning for all students. Then again, I’ve also seen some rooms over the years where things have just been shoved to the closest corner and kids have to pick their way through the junk to get to the teacher’s desk.
Part of what makes our students (and ourselves) successful is being in a space that is conducive for learning. That means organization. So today, I’m going to show you some ideas from classrooms that have gotten really creative with how to organize their small spaces.
Baskets and Labels
I’m loving the small things that can get teachers started. These plain-Jane, plastic baskets can be purchased at any retailer (Dollar Store, Wal-Mart, Target, etc) for very little money and the labels can just be printed out, attached to construction paper, laminated and taped to the containers. I have seen this used countless times with varying success. The trick is to provide enough containers that you can have a small set of items to go into each container. Also, I find that those teachers who try to categorize with the word and an associated picture have a much better success rate of sticking to the “bin system” than those who don’t.
Simple, Uncluttered Walls
I know that most classrooms that I walk into (especially in Elementary School), have so much STUFF on them that it’s hard to know where to begin. For learners who have sensory issues, or even those who have attention issues (which is most children at some point), this is really distracting.
Having so much stuff on the walls almost negates the reasons that you have it up there in the first place. Instead, it’s much better to be thoughtful with what you need to put up, what you want to put up, and how to categorize them on your walls.
Try to keep things simple, clean and straight-forward. This kind of setup is still bright and cheery, but students have a very clear expectation of where they can find essential information.
Another wonderful example could be utilizing folders on the walls for students to access information. You could easily update this to be for secondary students as well.
I LOVE this example from ClutterFree Teaching’s blog. It’s still bright and friendly, but items are carefully chosen, spaced accordingly, and she utilizes color to highlight important information.
Clean and Clear and Under Control
A teacher’s desk can be one of the messiest places in the whole classroom!
I know we’re all busy and at some point, each one of us has a desk that looks like a tornado just touched down. It’s an indicator of our hectic profession – papers to grade, projects to begin, lesson plans to write. BUT – we are the models for our students.
We need to show them what we want them to learn. Every time I have gone into a classroom where the teacher’s desk was a constant mess, the students all had the same thing going on inside their own desks. Let’s model for our students how keeping a clean desk can help them be more efficient, detailed learners overall!