A couple weeks ago I got to spend the afternoon in Michelle’s classroom. Michelle found me, I’m not really sure how. She said she thinks Pinterest and I think if she found me off there that makes me feel real special! I was trying to entice people to join my email list by entering their name in a drawing for two hours of free classroom organization support.
Michelle was the lucky winner! She was so funny because our emails back and forth were her basically being like “it’s okay if you want to back out,” “my room is terrible, are you sure you want to do this.” Even when I walked in the door to her room she prefaced me with how terrible her room truly was. However, I was more shocked by these critters greeting me…EW!
I gave Michelle two hours, but hopefully enough ideas and knowledge to keep her going for a few weeks! 😉
As I do with anyone that I work with, I ask them to identify three areas of concern that they want to address RIGHT NOW. We decided that her top area needed to be organization of her materials. Michelle is the typical teacher that focuses all of her energy and time on bettering her students and leaves the stuff that betters her as a teacher till later.
We started by opening up her cabinets. There was tons of STUFF in there. A lot of the stuff was stuff that had been passed down from teachers before her. Stuff that she NEVER even opened, but still took up valuable real estate in her room.
I helped her go through all of those books, resources, binders, etc. We created a “keep,” “sale,” “recycle,” and “give away” pile. This made it easy to sort all of her things. Then we put the items that we were keeping back into the cabinet. However, this time when we put them back, we put like things together. I talk about grouping items in cabinets in my classroom cabinet organization posts (here and here). Basically the idea is to group all like things together.
We had a section for each of her core subjects as well as classroom management. Her school is very old and a lot of history is there, so she also had a lot of school and town history type stuff that she couldn’t get ride of. We also made a section for things that stay in her classroom when she leaves to give these items a “home.”
We also organized another cabinet to include all different kinds of student materials.
Next we started chatting about her small group area. There was a lot of stuff going on here. Not very organized, although she knew where pretty much everything was! 😉 I gave her some tips for clearing off her bookshelf, better ways to store certain items, and how she could create bins to house her lesson plan materials.
This was to be her “homework.”
I want to brag on some things Michelle was doing well in her classroom.
1. Flexible Seating
This is something I have always wanted to try but my controlling nature has prevented me every year. When I walked into her room there were no desks. I am a big fan of cooperative learning so this caught me off guard. But while touring her room she showed me all of the different ways she allows her children to work. They sit on the floor, on the couch, in desks, bean bags, cushions, using lap desks, really anyway they want that they can stay focused with.
2. Classroom Library
Michelle’s school has also had a lot of support from Debbie Diller so I wasn’t surprised to see her classroom library the way it was, but I liked it!
I love love love that she has featured books sitting on top of her library. I also like the little nook feeling she has created by turning two bookshelves inward. This isn’t something I would usually promote, but they are small and it sections off the library into a cozy little nook.
3. Math Stations
Michelle also has her math center organized well. I like that it is all in a corner together with manipulatives out for the kids to easily access.
Working with Michelle was a lot of fun and not anywhere near as overwhelming as she made it out to be!
Want to makeover your own room? Click the box below and get your free copy of my “Classroom Makeover Goal Planning Sheet.” I walk you through all the steps of identifying your “top 3” areas and creating a plan to help you execute your classroom makeover. And…if you do makeover your classroom, take some before and afters for me, please!
Until next time,