Start Your Year Off Right: Classroom Organization

I thought I’d do a little series on the blog about beginning your new year. Some of this series will be old news to some of you veterans, but I thought it might help some teachers that are newer to the game.  So my first post is about the classroom. How can you make you classroom inviting but organized?  My classroom literally flows in a order that during our morning meet my kiddos can  rotate their bodies to the next activity. Everything is set up in a way that I waste little precious time throughout our day.   
Is your classroom ready? Here are pictures of my classroom last year. Now many would say that a bright classroom is too distracting.  I would say that a bright, unorganized classroom might be, but this classroom is inviting, very organized, the blocks of color keep each chart or space divided making it easy to focus. I also make sure that our room is not cluttered. You don’t 5,000 things on your walls.  As you see, I do not have colors and number and alphabets all over.  Instead, they have those resources on their First Grade Helper. This keeps our wall for only those things we really need in first grade.  
 I try to make my spaces very defined and strategically placed for easy access when they are needed. Below is our calendar. I placed our birthday board above this areas, so we can refer to it as we review the months and dates. I also don’t like taking up a huge amount of space for birthdays.  This large poster framed, makes it easy for me to write birthdays at the beginning of the year and wipe them off for the next year. We are also a OLWEUS school so our bullying posters are above so we can review those quickly when needed. 
 To the left of my library are all my leveled readers. Those are books that my students take home at night to practice reading with their parents. I’ve written several grants to stock that library because I’m so passionate about the home to school connection and it’s power in creating readers.  My library is color coded. Red baskets are fiction, yellow are chapter books, blue is nonfiction and green are poetry and song books. The blue baskets to the right are my students book bins. They fill those bins each week with 6 just right books, or books on their level and 4 books they just want to enjoy, regardless of the level.  We use these boxes for several reasons during the day.  
 The back of my room is separated into sections where my anchor charts go during the year.  I also made a very simple helpers wall.  Furthermore I don’t believe everyone needs a job, every week.  I rotate my kids and keep it simple. Their names are kept in the little tin below. I tack their names up on Fridays and then announce the jobs on Monday mornings.  The white bins below the helpers are where I store all of my centers for the year. The bins are marked by months.  My center bins where my students go to get their activities are right next door in those little bins.  This way I can quickly change out my centers for the next week, with ease. It’s all about making the most of your time and space.  
 My word wall is made of stainless steel so I can easily attach my words. My kids are able to remove the word easily as well if they need to use them for any reason.  It also makes them easy to put up. I have my students put the new words up each week. 
 Make the most of your spaces.  I put an organizer under my easel to not only keep things I need during our meeting time, but also stay organized without too much clutter or furniture around the room. 
 My focus wall is one of the most important parts of my room. Not only does it show my students what we’re focusing on each day, it also reminds me of the topics I need to cover. 
 As you can see below, my word wall is directly behind my guided reading table.  This makes it easy for my students to look up and find their sight words as they are reading.  
 Make lunch count and attendance easy! Magnets and dollar store cookie sheets will not only show you what students are doing for lunch but also who is not at school. 
I also designed these chair pockets, to make organization of your kiddo’s things a breeze.  
Here is some of my decor if you need to brighten up your room.  And if you like more calm colors I’ve also created a few things for a shabby chic feel.
Here is my bright Word Wall and Alphabet.
These are my Bright Subway Art and Pretty Prints Pack.
These are very similar but in a Shabby feel.
Below is my Classic Classroom Pack
This is what is included in my Focus Wall
These are the posters included in my Reading Anchor Chart pack. I love these because not only do they teach and are great to referring to, but they don’t take up much room.
 Just Frame It pack.
 Posters, Pennants and Printables pack.
And you can also CLICK HERE to see a tour of my classroom a few years ago.  
Picture of Michelle Oakes

Michelle Oakes

Wife, mom of 2 boys and a bulldog, reading specialist, Target frequenting lover of fashion, home decorating, Cincinnati girl.

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