The second half of the school year is upon us, and with the new year comes an opportunity to freshen up your classroom. Whether it means rearranging desks or setting up a new organizational system, there are so many ways to get things together for the spring. I love decluttering my classroom! Not only do things look better, but I feel like things run more smoothly, too
Here are a few things to think about as you start the process of decluttering this year.
6 Tips for Decluttering Your Classroom & Getting Things in Order for the New Year
1. Start with the right gear.
When you think about your classroom, how much time do you spend reorganizing the chaos left by your students at the end of the day?
Challenge yourself to take a look around at the end of the day.
- What do you notice hanging out around the classroom that should be put away?
- Does everything in your classroom have a place, and if so, is that place clearly marked so students can easily return supplies to the right place?
Clear plastic stacking bins with bright labels can add color and organization to your classroom.
2. Build shared responsibility & teach organization skills.
Do your students have easy access to their supplies? If they have desks, does each student have a system of organization for the contents?
Consider giving your class a few minutes each day, or at least once a week, to straighten up and get ready for the next day/week. Keep students accountable for filing their papers correctly into folders or binders.
3. Provide tools to organize shared materials & clearly label them.
If your classroom has tables, are all of your students’ supplies easily accessible?
You may want to consider using small baskets to hold supplies for pairs of children, rather than having a whole group reaching for a larger container.
Having a shallow basket to hold daily journals/folders on the tables rather than another place in the room will allow your students to access supplies without having to move around the classroom.
4. Use movement breaks to reset and reorganize.
Moving, though, is another way to unclutter and destress your classroom. Consider building in time for chair yoga, songs, stretches, or other brain breaks. Students who are given the opportunity to move around in a structured way are less likely to be moving when you prefer them seated.
If possible, give your students a 15-minute recess outdoors to break up the longest part of the day. The attention and focus you gain will be far greater than the 15 minutes they spend outside.
Students love to have the playground all to ‘themselves’, instead of having to share with multiple classes or grades during the traditional recess time.
5. Declutter your lesson planning.
If you’ve done a project before, don’t feel like you have to change it up to be a super teacher. Stay off of Pinterest if it makes you feel like you’re not keeping up.
At the end of the day, students want you. They want a smile and maybe a hug as they enter the room in the morning, and another as they leave. They want a teacher who is available to listen with her heart and take time for her students, even if that means she doesn’t have the prettiest display in the hall.
At the end of the day, and 10 years down the road, your students will remember the relationship they had with you – not the cute, fun projects they did.
6. Consider your routines.
Evaluate those routines and rules.
If something isn't working, now is the time to adjust and reteach. Give students opportunities to practice the routines you've taught and learn the new ones.
If you struggled with classroom management the first part of the year, this is the time to start anew. Introduce a new behavior management system and enjoy the rest of the year with your class.
Here’s to you, your students, and an organized, enjoyable second half of your school year!
I hope your organization gets off to a great start for the new year. While decluttering your classroom can feel overwhelming, taking on small bits at a time can make things easier.
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