Saturday, January 7, 2012

Clutter-Free Classroom, Week One

I've never done this whole "linky party" thing before, but when I read about the Clutter-Free Classroom Project that's going on, I knew I had to join in. As a first year teacher, I'm still getting my organizational system down. Add that to my classroom not being finished until after I'd had students for a few weeks and not getting my bookcases until December, I feel like I'm behind the game. At the beginning of the year, I was embarrassed for our principal and assistant principal to come into my room. It's so much better now, but . . . ugh. It's definitely a work in progress. 

The challenge for Week One was to take "before pictures." Some of these are cringe-worthy . . .

Our Classroom

As you walk in . . . you'll notice that there are no desks. I teach a primary-grades special needs class (emotional disorders,) and I only have 4-5 kids at a time. This means my room is kind of small compared to the regular classrooms in my school, and it's positively minuscule compared to some I've seen on blogs.

And here's my whole room, from the far side. To the right in this picture are my cabinets, which I don't have a good photo of. Both of these photos were from right before break, so there are a few things I've organized this week that you'll see below.

Teacher/Group Area

At the beginning of the year, I had my desk and the parapro desks away from the main tables. I'd wanted this so that the parapro and I would keep engaged with the students. This worked for me, but not for her. Now that I have no parapro (but interviews are ongoing!) I have my desk behind me so I can quickly get to the phone or my e-mail without interrupting our learning. 

Here's our small group table, my desk, and my bookshelves. My laptop sits on my desk, so I can get to it quickly to check e-mail or google the correct spelling of Lusitania. The bookshelves are much more organized than they were in August, but they still need intensive work . . . 

These magazine files (IKEA!) hold our current work in each subject (reading, writing, math, science, and socio-emotional.) I need to make labels for each of them to make it easier for a sub to find things, but since I was reminded once again on Friday that I'm not allowed sick days . . . it's not at the top of my list. If I have to have a substitute anytime soon . . . we'll have bigger problems than just finding materials quickly.

Here's my teacher toolbox, inspired by Create - Teach - Share. It just got finished on Friday, actually.

One of my two teacher bookshelves. It is a mess. I think my first step will be adjusting the shelf heights. They're not really working for me. The second thing? Finding if I can get rid of the books on the top and bottom shelves. I inherited them, so I think they're school property. I'm going to ask my mentor and AP about it, because I don't use them. 

This is my calendar area and behavior chart. Obviously this picture wasn't taken this week, but it still looks the same. I want to clean up my random-note area near the phone.  I think I could maybe make a cute bulletin board?

Classroom Library

Okay, this is one area that had given me a lot of trouble. Just Monday it looked . . .

Ugh. Atrocious. Our "most loved" books were stacked on the top shelf, lesser ones neat but hard to look through on the second. Dry erase slates piled on the bottom. Tons of unused space, but no organization at all. Yuck.

I finished with this at 4:30 on Friday. My mentor walked in right as I was finishing to say goodbye, and she stopped mid-sentence and was like WOW. I still need to figure out what to do with those last few books and the square containers, but it's so much better. These books are all organized by category. When I get my new leveled library on Wednesday (thanks, DonorsChoose!) they will be organized separately. 

I just got this bookcase at the end of December, so it's on my to-organize list. I want to get the shelf heights changed here, too. My leveled library is going to go here, and should take up the middle two shelves. I think our personal book baskets will stay on top, the lap desks on the bottom, and our bucket-filler buckets will move to the top of the black bookcase. 

The Closet

Ummm. I don't really want to show you these pictures. If the library was pretty atrocious, this is horrifying. . . 

It is a wreck! So much of the stuff in here that I inherited is just taking up space, and the three things I put in here (puzzle mat, stuffed animal bin, and crate seats) are just lying on top. I really need to work on this. I've tried several times, and got a lot of things into plastic boxes and put up the little metal shelf, but it's still . . . ugh. And, umm, triangular. Yeah. It matches my irregular octagon room. 

So, there you have it. I'm pretty pleased with how my room is now compared to in August, but I know it still needs lots of work. I'm hoping that this project (and learning from other teachers completing it) will help get me motivated and give me more ideas.

Clutter-Free Classroom


  1. Your room looks great. It also looks very narrow. looks like you do a good job of utilizing it. The only clutter I see is in the closet. I think you could get that cleaned up real easy.

    Ms. M
    Ms.M's Blog
    A Teacher's Plan

  2. Thanks for linking up. You've got a great room to work with. I love the colors on your clip chart!

    ❤Jodi from...
    ★★The Clutter-Free Classroom★★
    Helping Teachers Get Organized

  3. Hi - I think you've done a great job with the space you have! I love the new library setup. I am looking to re-do my classroom library and am thinking about doing something similar.

    I'm following you - always looking for other special ed blogs :)

    Kara @ spedventures

  4. You have good space to work with! Seems as though you do not have a lot of clutter and extas lying around, which is great. You will have everything exactly as you want it by the end of this project I am sure!! Btw, this is my 1st time doing the "linky thing," too!! :)
    Two Fulbright Hugs

  5. Hi! I'm giving you the Versatile Blogger Award. You can pick it up here :)