Let’s take a moment to review this week’s blog theme… First, we have cleaned out the closets, carts and walls of our teaching domain to create an organized physical space. Second, we have used visualization to create an organized mental space for best teaching practices. Only one thing left to do to start off the New Year right! Organize the actual classroom materials of the upcoming week or unit!
The organization of classroom materials must be a priority with each new week or theme that you teach.
Having your materials on hand, ready to be used exactly when you need them will help you move seamlessly throughout the day. If over the past months, you found yourself saying “Where in the world did I put that?” in the middle of your lesson, read on…
Three Steps for Better Materials Organization
- Before: Before the students enter the classroom, prepare your class for the day. This might seem obvious but many times in my teaching career, I thought that I was ready to go only to be thrown for a loop when I couldn’t find the song, picture or page number that I planned to use. Now, I write my agenda on the board with useful details (page or slide number, for example). I also number my realia and record the number down in my lesson. If I am showing a picture of a sunset, sunrise and cloudy sky, I number the pictures (Post-its are your friend!) and lay them out (in order) before class begins. In fact, I lay out all of the class materials for the day in order of use on a small table in front of the room before class starts. I queue any song or video that I will be using before class begins and I open my lesson books and workbooks to the proper page so that I truly am prepared. This specific preparation and attention to detail also helps me visualize the lesson running smoothly!
- During: I have found that keeping my agenda in a spot in the room that my students and I can easily view helps all of us stay on task. You may find that reviewing the agenda with your students as an opening activity will help a particularly distracted class stay more focused. Students like to accomplish goals and each agenda item completed should be celebrated as a goal met! Reviewing the agenda items as a closing activity is great way to check for understanding, too!
- After: While time spent in preparation before a lesson probably seems obvious to even the newest teachers, time spent after a lesson is completed can be valuable as well. After the students have left, take a moment to jot down notes on your lesson. What worked, what didn’t? Record or write down adjustments for better delivery next time. Pack up your supplies and materials and reorganize the, so they are ready to be used again. Used labeled shoeboxes or ziplock bags to keep regalia for each unit together. If you are a traveling teacher, egg carton crates stack wonderfully and hanging folders fit well inside for material organization. Clean up your teaching space so that whoever uses it next (you or a colleague) finds it suitable. These few minutes spent after a lesson will pay dividends throughout the year!
You know the saying…”The best laid plans…” We can visualize the most amazing lesson and be as prepared as ever, yet when reality strikes something goes awry. No matter how prepared and organized you are, the best teachers I know always have a full bag a tricks! We will help you develop your own bag of tricks for the New Year in the next few weeks. But for now, we hope the holiday season has been restful and joyous!