Organization is kinda my thing. It's what sets me apart from many teachers who are constantly battling desks that are covered in heaps of paper.
Once, a coworker I don't know very well was subbing for me during a meeting. When he came to my class, I guided him over to my desk to show him the lesson plan. As soon as he saw it, he asked me, "Do you even work at this desk? Where's all your stuff?"
"Organized!" I told him.
My mind focuses better when I don't have any distractions around me.
And because I know this is true for many of my students, I'm always keeping my eye out for other ways to simplify and organize my classroom and their belongings.
One of the easiest tips I can offer is to color code each subject.
When I moved to a new school in 8th grade, I was surprised to see that the school mandated what color folder and notebook we used in each class. At first, it felt like a uniform, like they were trying to stifle my individuality. I mean, what was the world coming to if I couldn't declare my love of rainbows, unicorns, and puppies with a plethora of Lisa Frank school supplies?!
Nope. Not at my new school. We were limited to the following when it came to folders and notebooks:
- Blue for language arts
- Red for math
- Yellow for social studies
- Green for science
- Black for art/music
It didn't take much time, however, until I was able to see the benefit in this situation. It made our locker stops efficient, and it was easy for teachers to quickly confirm that everyone had the right materials. No one ever had to go back to their lockers because they grabbed the wrong folder. It just didn't happen.
The fact that the whole school followed this system made it even easier. Simply by looking at the contents in a students' hands would tell you where they were headed or from where they came. Also, it became second-nature for students at this school, who saved their Lisa Frank envy for pencils and erasers that looked cool but never worked.
I adopted this color-coding method for myself when I went to high school (and college). It took away some of the anxiety I was feeling about having such limited time to stop at my locker before running to the other end of school for my next class. Being organized like this allowed me to simply reach for the color I knew I needed and be on my way.
Ultimately, my organizational skills resulted in more time to socialize with my peers in the hallways, which, let's face it, is why I went to school in the first place! ;)