The first step to enjoy teaching is to organize your classroom. Without rules, routines, and general order, a teacher becomes overwhelmed, frantic, and unhappy. It’s time to gain control of your classroom, students, and stuff.
Classroom Management – Determine what you want and how you’ll get it. Set clear expectations for discipline. Establish authority. Plan routines for each activity, from listening to lunch count, working collaboratively to walking in the hall. Build a community of learners.
Students & Their Stuff – Strategically arrange your seating chart to match your teaching style, as well as individual student needs. Determine and clearly communicate where you’d like students to put each assignment, how you’ll be returning their work, which papers should go home, and how they can keep it organized. Consider where students will store their supplies, and make it work for you. (For example, if students play with their rulers during instruction, collect and keep them until needed.)
Teaching Stuff – Decide how you will file unit plans, lesson plans, worksheets, and activities. Whether you use a traditional file cabinet, binders, or digital files, categorize everything logically. You need to be able to find what you’re looking for, and your classroom should not be overrun by teaching materials.
Parent Stuff – Establish a simple system for communicating with parents, such as creating an email group, website, or newsletter. Log and file all parent contacts, communication, and conferences.
Professional Stuff – Be prepared for your evaluation or a job change. Continually collect evidence of accomplished teaching. Keep a running list of all staff development. File your credentials in a safe spot.
I’ve found that the best way to keep my head above water is to make lists, prioritize, and plow through. When each school day is done, I straighten my desk to give myself a clean start the next morning.
Teaching is like laundry: it just keeps coming. We may never be totally on top of it, but we can be in charge of it and get the job done.