Today’s post is going to be a little bit of a jump from my posts over the last few days. The previous post show me working with my friend “S” to set up her classroom after returning to teaching after 4 years of being a mommy. So, with her, we were starting from scratch. I hope to post some final pictures of her room very soon!
This post is focusing on a DIFFERENT friend. I went up to help my friend “H” set up her classroom. She was returning to the classroom after being on maternity leave for a few weeks. She missed the end of the year- and the packing up!! She was also making a huge change from being a co-taught classroom (for almost 5 years!!) to being a general ed classroom. So our focus was more organizing all the things she already had.
Three things kept us on track: a tight schedule, a big trash can, and each other!! LOL!
Since we are now both mommies, we had a limited amount of time to get the room organized. It helped keep us from chatting and hanging out too much and helped us get right to work since we had to get home to our kids after a few hours.
We also got some trash bags to throw away any materials that were out-dated or just yuck. More about that later!
And each other! We kept each other company, laughed a lot, and motivated each other. There is nothing like a good friend to keep you honest when organizing and help you “let go” of old materials. I wish I could say we are the super cute girls in the picture, but we are not! Those are some random girls I found on a free photograph site! I couldn’t find any pictures of just the two of us!!
We had a plan of what we wanted to work on. H wanted to reorganize the room and make the most of the spacious room with just her. She was so used to sharing the space with her co-teacher, that she wasn’t even sure where to start!
Because there were two teachers in the classroom previously, there was a lot of extra furniture in the room. We had to make a plan and figure how she would use each piece of furniture and what was necessary and what was not. She was also not happy with her teacher area and felt it was unorganized. It made finding her things more laborious than necessary. That is her area straight ahead, under the TV.
After talking about possible arrangements, the best use of furniture, and setting up her teacher area, we decided to start shifting furniture.
We talked a lot about her “style.” What areas were important to her? How did she use her materials? I could help her organize all day long, but it was her room and she needed to feel comfortable with the set up. We were trying to maximize her efficiency and if I just did it my way, it would do her no good.
After we got the furniture set up, it was time to organized! My favorite part! The labels above are from my classroom. You can get the labels FREE here
We unloaded all the materials in her teacher area that she wanted to organize on tables in the center of the room. As I finished dragging around the furniture, she carefully went through each pile of “stuff” on the table deciding if it was needed or not.
We knew we want to organize her teacher area first because we had a specific plan. Her least used materials went on the top shelf, and her most used materials went on the bottom shelves. She was easily able to reach what she needed.
She had gone through most the stuff on the tables and her teacher area was mostly organized. The one thing we needed to work on was her guided reading books. She was using tubs with the books in gallon sized bags. Because it was open storage, it looked messy and it was hard to flip through. We decided to try another option.
This piece of furniture was previously holding math manipulatives that she didn’t use very often because she already had the manipulatives in other areas. We decided to take the books out of the bags, label them with the level, and then rubber band each set together. Each bucket was a different level. The math materials that were in the buckets got a wipe down, and were reorganized into another easier-to-access system. I will show that in a minute.
We worked for about 4 hours and this is as far as we got. I only had childcare for that time period and had to head home. H was able to stay for a few more hours and get a bit more done. The next day NEITHER of us had childcare, but we decided to see what would happen and brought all of our kids. Between the two of us we had a 3 year old, two year old, one year old, and two month old!!!!! We figured we would just stay for an hour, maybe even less, depending on the kids.
H continued to organize the guided reading books after I left they day before…and realized that they wouldn’t fit in the bottom buckets. Womp, womp. So we tried plan B and used this shelf. The books fit great!
Then we went on a labeling and organizing bonanza.
Normally I like to make super cute labels on the computer that match with cute font and blah, blah,
blah. Well, we had a room full of kids and time was not on our side. She had these cute name plates and we used them as labels. Minus my handwriting, they are still cute, right?!!?
We then labeled all the math manipulatives that were moved out of that piece of furniture.
The top shelf holds community art supplies and the bottom two shelves hold extra math manipulatives. We used the same name plates to label the boxes.
Then it was pick up time. All the materials that she need to copy and laminate went on the front table right by the door. All the trash and stuff to give away to a good home, went by the front door (not pictured- it was a BIIGGGG pile!
I love the round table next to the math manipulatives! I can just picture kids playing math games there!
Her teacher table still had a few things to go through. But, you can see our little helpers that were about ready to go…
Believe it or not we were there with ALLL those children from 10:30-3:30! We were shocked! Everyone was VERY ready to head home at 3:30 and got a great nap that day- including me! LOL!
This post is part of a series of posts on setting up the classroom. Check out the rest of the posts!
Mandy Gregory is a 2007 and 2012 Teacher of the Year. She has taught 4th, 3rd, and 2nd grade in both the general education and inclusion setting. She is the owner and creator of the Teaching Tips website (www.mandygregory.com) and has over 10 years of experience. She is married with two beautiful children.