Tuesday, January 3, 2012


If you are just joining us, you'll want to start here or check out my Clutter-Free Guide to Organizing and Managing Your Classroom.

Typically a classroom has a whole group meeting area and a designated place for small group instruction.  As part of my summer Setting Up a Classroom Series I blogged about creating both of those so you may also want to check out those posts.  This week we are going to focus on making the instructional spaces that you have in your classroom both organized and functional. 

Analyze your current instructional spaces and tweak them to improve on their form and function.

  • Start first by looking at your current spaces. What jumps out at you? Sit where they sit. Put yourself at their level.  Does the area look inviting or is it cluttered? Are children able to sustain focus or is there visual clutter and distractions from their viewpoint? I always recommend teachers do this as they are setting up their rooms, but it is especially important to do it throughout the year as anchor charts and posters get added and things become tattered and worn.
  • Purge anything that doesn't need to be there (outdated charts, dry markers). Relocate items that have made their home in these areas, but do not serve a purpose related to it.
  • Assess how the space is functioning for you. When you gather the group together is everything at the ready or do you find yourself needing to get up or have students fetch things for you.  List out anything that hinders your lessons and meetings and strive to find solutions to meet your specific needs.
  • Find ways to make the space do double duty and help with storage. Consider using a wooden shelf turned on it’s side for a bench in the group area. You could then slide baskets into it to hold supplies. Perhaps add in a storage ottoman or crate seating.  
  • Put together a Tote Caddy with all of the items you use when instructing (scissors, markers, post-its, tape, highlighters, etc) and have it by your side when you are working in either area.
  • If you don’t have shelving behind your small group area you may want to add a place to store teacher guides, lesson plans, etc. I like the Closet Maid Organizer shown on the right because you can add storage cubes which will both contain and hide your items. I also like that it offers built in sectioning for further organization.
  • Are you using a traditional stationary easel? Look into writing a Donor's Choose grant or investing in something like this Teacher's Value Easel that is more versatile, portable and offers storage underneath.
  • Below is my current small group area. There are a few things that make it really work well for me. I heart the swivel chair. I brought this in from home and since I spend so much time at this space it is helpful to have a comfy place to sit and an easy way to access all of my students when they are at the table (as well as my materials on the shelves behind me...360 anyone?). Speaking of the shelves, it's great to have everything within reach. I used storage cubes from Target as student seating. Each seat contains an individual dry erase board, markers, wipes and anything else they may need during our small group work.

On Friday, I'll put up the Linky Party related to this week's Clutter-Free Classroom PROJECT. The Linky will be ongoing and you can always jump in and link up at anytime. If you don't have a blog you can respond to the prompt in the comment section on Friday's post. Below is this week's prompt. Keep these questions in mind as you take your pictures:

  • Show us your instructional areas and share any tips you have for making them organized and functional. Let us know if you did anything to improve them this week.torage classroom management classroom arrangement classroom organization skills organization ideas for the classroom organization ideas for teachers organization ideas for elementary classrooms decluttering a classroom declutter classroom before pictures kindergarten first grade second grade third grade fourth grade fifth grade sixth grade preschool 1st grade 2nd grade 3rd grade 4th grade 5th grade 6th grade time management, professional organizer, ways to get organized, organizing products, helping kids get organized, organizing teachers, the organized classroom, tips for getting organized tips for classroom organization storage manipulatives school supplies, how to organize a teacher's desk, organized teacher desk, how to clean a teacher desk, teacher desk, organized teacher desk tips, tips for organizing a teacher  how to organize teacher resources, teacher resource books

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