Category Archives: Organization

Decluttered Closet



When I moved to my new school two years ago, I was in awe of all the storage space I had in my classroom.  Most of one entire wall is filled with upper and lower cabinets – more storage than I’ve had in years.

This is only a portion of the cabinets on this wall!


But wait – there’s more!  I also have a walk-in closet with metal shelving that I don’t even have to share with anyone else.  I was amazed!


However, coming in at the last minute, and not knowing what belonged to the school or the teacher who was out on leave, I basically left the closet untouched for a year.

Fast forward a year.  All that is left in the closet belongs to the school or to me.

“Just shove it in the corner for now.”

“Just throw it anywhere, kids.”


My June project was to declutter and organize my closet.  What with summer school and a bad back, I haven’t actually finished this project, but I managed to get the declutter part completed, sort of.  Everything from the closet went into one of four piles:  keep in closet, store elsewhere, dispose of, and offer to colleagues as freebies.  Old, out of date textbooks have been boxed up for the custodians to remove, the pile of give aways is boxed up and ready to go to the teachers’ mailroom, and I’m in the process of finding homes for everything else.  So far, the closet looks like this:

a work in progress


When I get back from vacation, my goal is to get everything else in its place, see what containers I need and containerize.  Then I’ll need to find homes for the items that will not be returning to the closet, but which I still need to keep.  I’ll have one day to get it done.  Wish me luck!







I’d Like a Clutter-Free Classroom, Please.


Waaaayyyy back in February, on Valentine’s Day to be exact, I wrote my first post for “Teaching:  A How-To Guide”.  My goal in starting this blog was to have a public record of my success in the Clutter-Free Classroom Project, which I somehow (Pinterest?) found on this amazing blog, The Clutter-Free Classroom.  Its author is my hero these days!  If you’re not already a regular reader, you need to head on over and see what you’re missing!

Of course, as is typical for me, I came to the Project late by a month and a half, so I never really caught up.  What with kids in the room all day, my chronic migraine flaring up big time as we got closer to state testing in April…  you know how it is.  I realized the day I was having my kids take a reading test while I dragged my area rug from one side of the room to the other that my project might not be in the best interest of my students at that particular moment.  However, I vowed – yes I did – to return to the Clutter-Free Classroom Project when summer arrived.

I have one week left of summer school and planning with my team.  Then I’m going to hit that room hard until the custodians bodily remove me so they can clean.  And I’ll be recording my progress here from now until the room is perfect, which allows me to keep blogging long after summer is over!


Teaching a Multi-age Class… Help!


It looks like next fall (which is August in Florida), I will be teaching a 4/5 split class.  I’ve done it before and found it a lot of fun, actually, but because of how our numbers fall, it will probably be mostly fifth graders with four or five fourth graders thrown in for good measure.

I’m looking for suggestions on how to make this setup the most beneficial for my students without actually losing my mind.  I’m looking into the Daily Five for managing Reading Workshop and perhaps a form of it for Math.  We are using Go Math, which I have not worked with because I’ve been team teaching and doing all of the Reading for the past two years.  My colleagues tell me they have a truly difficult time getting through all the content in an hour, so I’m a little concerned about having to do two distinct math lessons each day.  Naturally the fourth grade and fifth grade math curriculum road maps are completely different, which adds to the fun.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has taught an intermediate level split or from anyone who has any creative suggestions!  If nothing else, this situation should provide me with plenty of opportunities for a Professional Development Plan next year!

Stamina and Sanity and Paperback Books


I had such high hopes for today’s blog post.  Monday, a new week, a new organization project.

But my migraine had other ideas.  The two doses of migraine medication I tried didn’t make me any more productive, mentally or physically.

And breaking up a fist fight between two of my students made me a tad irritable.  Why did that child have to go and talk about his momma anyway?  Geesh.

So I’ll leave you with the mental picture (because I obviously wasn’t strolling around my room snapping photos today) of my book reorganization extravaganza!  I inherited my classroom last year from a fantastic teacher who was on a leave of absence and has since retired.  Many trade books, individuals and sets, were left behind.  I piled books upon books in my storage room, jumbling levels and genres, and … oh my.

Since my students are starting literature circles this week, I started pulling all those books out of the storage room and piling them on counters, tables, and shelves so I could see what I’ve got.  Quite a bit, actually.  I’m now working to put class sets and half sets neatly and logically back on my storage room shelves.  Book sets of 4 – 8 will be sent down to our reading coach so others can use them for lit. circles.  I also found several pairs of books, which will be handy for buddy reading – something I haven’t done because I didn’t realize I actually had the books to make it possible!

And last but not least, I am finally sorting the remainder of my books by genre.  That will be a nice addition to my leveled books.  This overhaul has also demonstrated glaringly that I have very little nonfiction in my classroom.  With the Common Core Standards calling for 50% nonfiction in fifth grade, I’d better see if I can scrounge up some funds to purchase more books.  I suppose I can pull out some of my Scholastic points I’ve been hoarding, and utilize those as well.

Sounds like I have a lot to do tomorrow.  If anyone takes a swing at anyone else, my head may explode.  At least that would distract them, right?

My Teacher Bag


I have never, ever had a bag for carting work back and forth from home.  That I actually liked.  I’ve used a canvas beach bag, which I loved until I washed it and it went limp.  I have had various bags that were gifts from well-meaning parents who had absolutely no idea how much paperwork I carried back and forth.  And I’ve had bags I bought and thought would be great, but were okay at best.

This year I rarely carried a bag home because I tutor until late afternoon four days a week.  By six p.m. the thought of taking work home – well, the thought doesn’t even cross my mind.  However, inspired by The Clutter-Free Classroom Week 7 Challenge, I bought myself a new bag.

Here it is, along with the nifty accordion folders I bought.

It says professional, it says take me seriously, however, it doesn’t say fun.  Anywhere.

And it cost about the same as the awesome looking Thirty-One bags so many teacher bloggers rave about.  It doesn’t have a ton of room inside either.  However, for the remainder of this school year, it will do.  But I do see a Thirty-One bag in my future.  Yes, I do.

The thing I’m enjoying most about my new bag is that I have my papers corralled into three folders, which were cute and I loved the colors.

To Grade - you'll notice this one is stuffed to the gills even though I just had a week off. Ugh.

To Record - You'll notice this one is also stuffed full. I was on vacation, all right?

Logically, since I haven't done any grading or recording, the "To Return" file is flat as a pancake.

This bag does offer some pockets for pens and the like, but I think I’d rather have a pencil pouch or box for my colored grading markers, stickers, and stamps.  What I’d really like is enough space to carry my wallet and keys along with my cell phone and cut out carrying the purse to work altogether.  Oh, and my migraine medicine.  Must have that.

Time is Flying!


Somehow this week of Spring Break has ended and I am still not prepared for Monday morning.  I guess that means I truly vacationed.  Which is lovely now.  Tomorrow morning is another story.

I am continuing to organize my computer files, and today that means my bookmarks.  I actually worked on this several weeks ago, but recently while on my personal laptop, I realized I had bookmarked scads of links for school.  No wonder I could never find them at work!  So today my mission is to open both computers side by side, sort through bookmarks on my personal laptop and save the useful ones to my work laptop.

Then I’ll explore my photos and files on my own laptop and transfer school related files and folders to my work laptop.  Having ALL my work related files on my work laptop will hopefully make my life a little easier, or at least a little more logical.

Which may or may not free me up to get my schoolwork done before 8:30 tomorrow morning!

My Files Are Virtually Organized… Sorta


I’m exhausted.  Worn out.  Dragging.  And I didn’t have to lift a single file or trashcan.

Who knew cleaning up my computer files would be such an involved process?  Everything I have on my school laptop has been there a year and a half or less.  How much could I have?  Apparently about three hours worth of filing and still counting.

And this is why sorting through and organizing is so important.  Just like a real file cabinet, documents get shoved in drawers, misplaced, and thrown into a “miscellaneous” pile.  In order to utilize what you’ve got, you have to know how to put your fingers on it quickly.  After three hours of sorting, purging, and organizing, I am proud to say my documents look like this:


I looked at all the documents and folders I already had.  Redundancies were eliminated and new folders created for the individual files I had scattered around. For example, I am in charge of our school’s Boxtops for Education collection and I also compile the school newsletter.  Those items got folders of their own. Two folders named 21st Century Tutoring were a waste of space, so last year’s folder hit the trash bin. As the year progresses and I start looking ahead, I will probably start a New School Year folder and incorporate my Time Capsule folder and some of my Clutter-Free Classroom resources into it.  Files are so much easier to modify, eliminate and create on the computer.  And no trees are killed in the process.  So all in all, I was feeling pretty darn good about my accomplishments this evening.

Until I glanced over and saw the word “Downloads”.  ARRRRRGGGHHH!!

Notice at the bottom of the screen shot it says “1 of 136”?  So I’m not nearly done, but it’s now after 9 pm and tomorrow is another (vacation) day.  So my biggest advice when it comes to organizing your computer files is to recognize that if your files are a mess like mine were, make sure you set aside several hours.  A half hour a day for several days may be the best way to manage this task in what is already a hectic teacher’s day.