Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Classroom Organization

Classroom organization is one of my favorite topics. I think I have seen every blog post and pin that offers suggestions about how to organize the classroom. Over the years I have tried so many different ideas! A lot have fallen by the wayside – they just didn’t work for me. This year, however, I feel like I have had a lot of success. I thought I would share what I am doing with all of you. 

So, here we go in no particular order.

Last year going to the bathroom became an issue for my fourth graders. This may be because we are in a portable and going inside the building to go to the bathroom takes a loooong time. Also, kids have to knock to get back into the classroom which tends to distract kids whether we are working as a large group or doing independent/small group work.

 I don't like being strict about the bathroom. I get that sometimes people just need a break - I have gone to the bathroom many times during professional development just to stretch my legs. However, given our classroom constraints, there needs to be some limits.

I saw something like this on Pinterest this summer - I can't remember where. That class didn't have the numbers on the clips, but I decided early on that everything in my class would be numbered so keep kids (and me!) organized. 

Each kid gets a clothespin with their number on it. If they hand me their clothespin, they can take the bathroom pass - no questions asked. (Unless it is two minutes until lunch or recess - which happens occasionally.) I collect the clothespin and clip it to my badge lanyard. This way I know who is gone in case of an emergency. After the child comes back I am supposed to move the clothespin to a "storage" spot for the rest of the day. (I usually forget this step and end up with a lanyard full of clothespins.) If a student has to go to the bathroom after their clothespin is gone they have to ask me. I usually question them a bit, but let them go. 

So far this system is working for us. I do have a couple of kids that go to the bathroom about twice a day during class, but I think they just need to. Maybe they need to go for a walk, or they drink a lot of water - either way I get it.

Wow! I can't believe I just wrote five paragraphs on going to the bathroom! That shows the kind of thought I have put into my classroom systems. Just ask my husband, I agonize over this stuff!

Okay, one more item for today. This looks like it will be a several day post.

This is my lunch organization system. At our school we have these colored cards kids hold up to show their lunch choices. Usually there are two choices (purple and orange), but occasionally there is a third option (green). The envelope in the bottom row has everyone's lunch number on it and it must be taken down the cafeteria every day.

You can't see it, but our lunch tub with all the packed lunches is below the organizer. When kids finish their work before lunch, they put things away, and then grab their lunch or their card. You would think it would get crowded, but it moves really quickly and smoothly. The best part is that I don't have to deal with the lunch process. That is really my goal in all of our classroom organization - I do as few daily chores as possible. 

That's all I can handle today. After typing all this up I do have some sympathy for my husband. This is a lot of information to process :).


 You can read Part Two here.

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