Today I want to talk about something that’s been at the forefront of my mind, mostly because I’m having to deal with it right at this moment: Classroom Organization. I know, it’s probably not a topic you’ve thought about (unless of course you are a teacher yourself), but it’s one that I’ve been dealing with for the past few weeks as I try to get my room ready for my students. When you are a student yourself, you rarely give any thought to the way your teacher has designed his or her classroom. There were probably posters on the wall, name plates on the desk (elementary only, of course), possibly some decorations of some form or fashion in various locations. Nowadays, however, classrooms are getting a lot more fancy, namely because of the push on the importance of reading, which is obviously something I can totally get behind. Teachers – particularly those in the lower elementary grades – have classroom libraries that they’ve probably organized in some cutesy, fun way, with colorful labels on the baskets/bins that hold the books. The books are probably even organized by subject (which makes my librarian heart happy), or author, or some other way of keeping things straight. Included with this classroom library is probably a place for the kids to read, or at the very least, a rug of some sort where the class can come together to listen to a story.
Now, I am ALL for this setup. In fact, I would WANT this setup for my own classroom. Which brings me to my current problem: a total lack of space. I currently have 21 students on my class roster, and will probably be adding at least a couple more before it’s all said and done. My classroom has desks instead of tables, so I’ve grouped them into groups of four. This eats up quite a lot of floor space, as you can probably imagine. Throw in my desk, a table for small group work, and that aforementioned area where we can sit on the floor to read stories together, and space is a serious commodity that I just don’t have. And yet, I want my classroom to be welcoming and cheerful, so don’t want them too crammed together. Not only is being squished not very much fun, but it also provides close contact with other children that can lead to behavioral issues. And I REALLY want to cut down on those. So it has become a juggling act of giving kids enough space to thrive while still providing me with the areas I want/need to teach effectively. I believe I’ve figured things out space-wise, although I do NOT as of yet have the cute rug (although I found one I really like and may splurge on). I also don’t have the neatly labeled library – I’m actually still trying to sort all the books the two retired teachers left for me – but know that organizing all of them isn’t going to happen. I am going to have to let go of my anal-retentiveness and just deal with it, which will no doubt be a year-long work in progress. Ha.
Moving along, I’ve settled on my classroom theme for this year, which is owls. I have found some really cute owl-related things, like decorations, bulletin board borders, alphabet letters/numbers, an AMAZING behavior management clip system, and lots of Owl-related things for Daily 5/Cafe, which is are systems I plan on using with my students. I also found a super cute blog – First Grade OWLs (Outstanding, Wonderful Learners – HOW CUTE IS THAT?) – where I’ve gotten a lot of my owl-related stuff, because she makes and shares her creations on her Teachers Pay Teachers store (as a side note, I am SO JEALOUS of her classroom. No, really, LOOK at it!). Seriously, I could shop for owl things all day! The hard part is getting them all classroom ready for Meet the Teacher Night, which is August 8th. Obviously your entire room doesn’t HAVE to be completely ready, but it really ought to be mostly ready, and mine is really really not. STRESS! (But! CUTE OWLS, right?)
So that’s where I’m at right now. Trying to get things done for work, trying NOT to buy every single owl-related school supply in existence, and stressing out about all the things I still need to do (like LESSON PLAN, OMG). But surprisingly, I’ve not gone completely off the deep end … yet. Aside from the stress and the physical pain of lugging furniture around and climbing up and down off of things as I try to put up decorations (my hip still hurts from that), I’m actually mentally okay about this whole thing. We’ll see how much that changes once the kids show up at my door on the first day of school.