It’s that time of year again when school bells will begin ringing. Having spent nearly 32 years in the classroom I always anticipated this as one of the most exciting times of the year. There’s much planning to do, purchases to make, and lessons to prepare for this new adventure. Here are six teacher tips to get organized.
Six Teacher Tips To Get Organized
1) TO FAIL TO PLAN IS TO PLAN TO FAIL
A variation of this quote is attributed to Winston Churchill during WWII. “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” So it is with the business of teaching. Take the time to sit down and form a personal plan. Set goals and realistic schedules for your life.
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat healthy
- Schedule times for grading papers, preparing lesson plans, gathering ancillary materials, and changing bulletin boards
- Decide how you will track the personal achievements of each student, and how you will motivate each to achieve his/her best
- Think through your entire 24 hour day and make plans on how to best use these hours.
- Remember to plan time for family, friends, and personal times of relaxation.
2) PLAN YOUR WORK AND WORK YOUR PLAN
There will be days when plans unravel; the baby gets sick, the car breaks down, there is a snow day… This will happen. Plan on it. Because you have already anticipated this “unplanned event” you can quickly readjust and go to “Plan B, C, or D. It doesn’t matter which plan you are following so long as you have a plan.
Be flexible. Rigid teaching is not good teaching. Structure, yes, but rigidity; no. When a lesson plan fails to meet the needs of the student, go home, rethink the material and the presentation. Come again the next day and reteach the material in a new and fresh manner. Make sure the student is coming along with you on the journey. Remember, teaching is not the same as learning. Your goal is for your students to learn.
3) A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE
The chaotic classroom will produce chaotic students and slip-shod teaching. This is not to say clutter and occasional chaos is all bad, but it should not be the norm. This is YOUR environment and your students will need to discover their place in this space. Think through all the “stuff” that comes with children each day. Where is that “stuff” to go?
Give Each Item A Home
- coats, gloves, hats, boots
- backpacks, books, school supplies
- electronics, if allowed
- lunch boxes
- homework, notes from home
- lunch money
Visualize your home organization and then translate that concept into the classroom. Example: Dishes in left cabinet, silverware in left drawer, towels in hall closet, boots next to back door
Everything must have a home from the very first day of school. A home for everything will bring order to the classroom quicker than anything else you can do.
A classroom schedule is the second thing that will bring orderliness to your students. Will you welcome them at the door with a smile each day as they arrive? Will you remember that THEY are the reason you are here and that THEY are more important than all your well-laid plans?
Remember, your students may have left behind chaos, heartache, rejection, taunting, and abusive situations. They probably had a harried morning much like your own and were rushed out the door in a mad dash to catch the bus. They may not have had enough sleep to get through the day. And yes, they may arrive at your door in a rotten mood feeling confident that today will be a horrible, no good, very bad day.
Leave your problems in the car when you enter the classroom. Give your students the best you have. Welcome them, teach them orderliness from the way you welcome them at the door, to where things belong, and the content that you teach.
Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending” – Carl Bard
Things To Remember
- If things didn’t go so well yesterday, start fresh today.
- For a successful day, check the environment. Is the thermostat set to a comfortable temperature? Too hot, or too cold makes attentiveness difficult.
- Are your ancillary materials in order; ready to pick up and keep the flow of teaching in progress?
- Have the attendance materials been placed on your desk for quick access?
4) PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IS USUALLY CAUGHT, NOT TAUGHT
- In the afternoon, have you taught your students how to prepare to go home?
- Do they have all the necessary materials in their backpacks?
- Is the room straightened by the students in preparation for the next day?
- Have they cleaned out the clutter in their desks?
- Are your lesson plans on the desk with all materials ready for tomorrow?
- Is your board work up, and materials set out?
- Think ahead just in case you have “one of those morning” tomorrow. Are all your teaching materials ready and available?
5) WORK WHILE YOU WORK, PLAY WHILE YOU PLAY
A poem of unknown origin appeared in an old McGuffey Primer. This is a good piece of advice not only for the teacher and student, but for life. “Work while you work, Play while you play; One thing each time, That is the way. All that you do, Do with your might; Things done by halves, Are not done right.”
As you face each day in the classroom, give it all you’ve got. Make a difference in the lives of your students. Let them make a difference in your life.
Open and close each day in conversation with God. Ask for strength, wisdom, laughter, and discernment. There is little we can do that is more important than to spend this time with God. He IS our source of strength. He is our teacher, and from Him we will be made wise in the task of teaching.
If you are on the journey of being a classroom teacher, a parent of a school-age child, or a teacher in your church, I pray you will find something useful in these six teacher tips to get organized. Perhaps you have your own tips to share. I’d love to hear from you.