Hooray for summer! Time for us teachers to have fun and get ready for next school year!
The question is...how do we balance those two things?
Well, like most teachers I've become pretty enamored with scrolling through Pinterest in order to get excited about how to improve my teaching. So it got me thinking. If all the eye candy in the form of other teachers' photos help us to see exactly what we want our room to be, theoretically, having photos of what the reality of my classroom is could help me to objectively determine what should be fixed!
It can be difficult to be objective about how a space looks when you live there. Areas of a room are all in context. Photos help frame out areas, making them more manageable when it comes to creating dedicated sections.
Plus, like most teachers, I had to pack up my room for the custodians to work their magic. I didn't have the luxury of spending loads of quality time in the aftermath the kids left. Therefore, a week before school got out and the visible organizing and packing began, I took a series of...let's call them "before" pictures. Warning: these will not be cute. These are "lived in" pictures that accumulate junk and have slowly eroded into non-photogenic catch-all spots. These are the spaces I want to change.
So for the next 6 weeks here on Shut the Door and Teach, although there's no teaching going on, the door has been shut, so that the "reconstruction" can begin. A few new storage solutions will be purchased, new labels will be created, printed, laminated, and adhered, and a few wall displays may get a relocation and/or makeover. But it will all be at a relaxed pace so that I can balance some quality time with my family and local beach. :D
I have ideas for many of these projects, and I'm in need of your suggestions for others. I'll go back at the end of the summer to update each post with "after" photos. I hope you enjoy this series; if so I'll do it again next summer. There's always room for improvement after all!
Summer Project #1: Kids' Materials Shelf
This area has gotten SO much better over the years, I have to say. Things that work in this space are:
- Maybe I'm not being objective, but I think at a glance, you can see where nearly 75% of everything is right away.
- Everything is at the correct "level." The smaller materials (like paper clips and sticky notes) are at the top at eye level. Commonly used paper is just below that because it's the most commonly used item; easily within reach.
- The little crayon/marker/scissors crates are pretty, durable, and match my classroom color palette. Keeping those!
- The paper trays separating the construction paper works.
- That round mini-trash has helped TREMENDOUSLY in the way of stopping kids from being too lazy to through out wrappers and junk when getting things from the shelf.
Things I plan to change:
- I want more of those colorful little crates. I really hope Staples still carries them. I just need 2; one for glue bottles and one for glue sticks. That would free up that Sterilite shoebox, which I need for another project later on.
- Labels, labels, labels. I used to think my kids were too old to need every little thing labeled, but now I'm wondering if it might help a few take more pride in keeping this space organized. I'll create for that little wooden box: masking tape, paper clips, black Sharpies, staples, sticky notes, index cards and erasers. I need 5 crayons labels, highlighters, scissors, glue bottles and glue sticks for the little crates. I'll also need something for the new staplers, hole punchers and rulers compartments.
- More letter trays. I think if I could get the tape dispensers, staplers, and hole punchers and rulers stacked vertically, it might keep them from getting placed just anywhere. It might also be more convenient when distributing them to groups; one person can just bring the tray around.
- Possible Duck Tape application. I'm nervous about what it looks like after a year of wear and tear, but I think I can justify it on this shelf because the kids and I have gotten splinters from it. I'll just mask the lip of each shelf to give it a touch of color and finger protection. I may also give the "mini trash" a stripe or 3, and I'll have to think about those WB Mason boxes that contain the 11x17 papers. Unless there are letter trays that exist in that size.
Questions for you all:
I'm considering a more drastic plan, and I'd love for you to weigh in. I thought about buying a large bin for each group, and putting all the materials they need into it, instead of this more "communal" system. Does anyone do this and like it? What is the key to your success? I worry about the fact that I switch up my groups each month; they might not feel the same sense of ownership.
That should do it! Sounds manageable, I'll just add each component to my Back to School toDo List. It's a free, editable list that you can get from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I update it a little each year and it really keeps me from spinning around like a top between all the printing, laminating and shopping (better to take 1 day to do each one of those things than do all 3 for each project each day)!