classroom organization

When I first started teaching, I found myself in a similar situation as Ryan, a physics and engineering teacher.

I had inherited a stockroom filled with a mishmash of untouched items from the previous teacher’s 15-year tenure.

It felt like I had stumbled upon a drafting museum! (Pretty sure the previous teacher had been “gifted” any outdated tools, supplies, and technologies.)

But fear not, with a little organization, you can conquer the chaos and find small equipment bliss.

In this blog post, I’ll share three tips that will help you transform your stockroom into a well-organized haven.

Tip 1: Set the Intention for the Space

Before diving into the actual organization process, it’s crucial to determine the purpose of the space and who will have access to it.

Ask yourself if only you will need access or if students may also require materials from the stockroom.

This decision will influence how you organize the items, making it easier for everyone to find and return them.

Additionally, consider the frequency of use. Items used more should be easily accessible, while those used infrequently can be stored higher up.

Tip 2: Embrace the Power of Clear Bins and Drawers

When organizing small equipment, clear bins are your best friends.

Unlike opaque bins, which become black holes of mystery, clear bins allow you to see exactly what’s inside.

You won’t have to waste time rummaging through many bins or rely solely on labeling.

If possible, opt for drawers instead of bins.

Drawers make it easier to access and put away items without disturbing the entire stack. If you have built-in cabinetry, use bins and drawers within them to keep everything hidden away.

Tip 3: Label with Images for Foolproof Organization

Labeling is essential for a well-organized stockroom. But why stop at words when you can use images to enhance clarity?

Embrace the concept of “Poke Yoke,” making it so simple that anyone can understand. Include both the word and a corresponding image on labels.

This way, even those unfamiliar with the equipment can easily match the picture and place items back in the correct spot.

Clip art, printed pictures, or even photographs of the items themselves can serve as clear visual cues.

For drawers, glue or tape a picture of the contents on the front, allowing you to identify what should be inside.

Recap and Conquer the Chaos!

To recap, here are the three tips to organize your stockroom for small equipment bliss:

  1. Set the intention: Determine who needs access to the materials and plan storage accordingly.
  2. Embrace clear bins and drawers: Opt for transparent containers to easily see what’s inside and consider using drawers for better accessibility.
  3. Label with images: Make the organization foolproof by including pictures alongside words to ensure anyone can return items to their proper place.

Following these tips, you’ll transform your stockroom into a well-organized space where finding and storing small equipment is a breeze. So roll up your sleeves, gather your clear bins and drawers, and let’s conquer the chaos together!

Useful Links

 Do you use an L M s or are you wanting to use an L M S but are a little bit afraid of the overwhelming aspect of it? Because there really are a ton of different things that you can do with LMS or learning management systems. I would imagine that. Since the pandemic, you have either adopted an LMS or your school or district has really wanted you to, or encouraged you to make life easier so that students can learn when they are not available at school.

But I wanna let you know that I have some tips because I have been using an LMS since my first year of teaching, and this was a long, long time ago. And at the time I used something called, Moodle and we had to go in and actually program. I’ve used several different LMSs from that Moodle to now. Our school district heavily uses Canvas, so I’m going to give you some broad tips today.

My top tips if you are wanting to dive. Into your LMS this summer if you’re preparing it for next school year, or if you’re wanting to kind of clean things up and avoid some pitfalls that students fall into, follow these 10 tips as you get that set up. Welcome to the Secondary Teacher Podcast, the podcast for middle and high school teachers juggling multiple preps to get the strategies to reduce.

Overwhelm so that you don’t have to choose between being an effective teacher and prioritizing important relationships. I’m your host, Khristen. Massek, a 10 year high school engineering teacher, former middle school assistant principal and teacher coach. Every week we will discuss strategies, systems, and time-saving tips to help you not only survive but thrive as a multiple prep teacher.

As I was coming up with this list, it really is the top 10 things that. I really have learned, and I’m going to say this too, I’ve used it as a teacher and then I’ve also used it as an administrator and then a student. But I think a lot of us at this point have used it as a student just because LMS is so, I just wanna give you some tips and tricks from.

All of those perspectives. And I also wanna let you know it is in no particular order because I was just brainstorming them and really couldn’t figure out what I felt like was the top most crucial tip for implementing an lms. I’m just gonna start with the randomness. Just know that there’s 10 and they are all equally awesome, and you can decide which is the most valuable.

The first one is to remove any unnecessary navigation if it is possible for you. Make it as simple as possible for your students. this is that idea that Japanese term po make it foolproof, make it idiot proof. Make it so students don’t get lost in this rabbit hole. what I see happen the most as a teacher and also an administrator, was that I.

If there are tons of different options on the left hand side of the screen and they can jump from their assignments to their quizzes to the calendar, they don’t know where to go. They have a hard time when they log in, and then somehow they’ll get into an assignment and then they don’t know how to get back to the, the list of the assignments that are in front of them or however you want to organize it.

So honestly, if you can take. Away as much navigation as possible. Then that will make it easy. They know they just click that button. There’s only one button to click. whatever you can do to remove any unnecessary navigation, that’s where you wanna start. Now that does mean that you, on your side, you’ll still see all the navigation and you’ll be able to go through things, but it’s just limiting it from the student view, and it’s really to make it so that.

It’s just super simple for when they log in, they know exactly where to go to find out where the assignments are or whatever resources and materials you’re giving them. Number two, use the same assignment and assessment structure for everything. This is goes along with the keeping it simple. You just want to have one structure.

There are so many different things, and you’ll see different ideas, but making it so that it’s super crystal clear as every single assignment is laid out the same way. And one of my favorite ways to do that is I would just create one assignment. This is how I’m going to structure it. I’m always going to have a video at the top with my instructions, and then, This is how they’re going to submit it, and it’s always going to be this same way.

So with the assignments too, if there are multiple ways of doing submissions, try to limit it so that there is just one or two ways and you don’t switch it out, and then you create that first assignment. From then on, you just copy that assignment and change the content within, so keep those the same.

Same with your assessments, any assessments that you are doing there, whether they’re quizzes or something else, try to keep it very, very similar, if not the same, so that it just isn’t confusing for your students. Number three. Don’t require a photo submission. If you can give feedback while walking around.

I see this happen so much. Teachers are asking students to do. Things to turn in assignments that could be done quicker by walking around. this is to save you time. You’ll still be able to see that your students are accomplishing that task, but it doesn’t require them to then take their Chromebook and angle it in a weird direction and try to take a photo of the sketch that they drew and then submit it.

And then you have to wait for those submissions to come in. And maybe they didn’t submit it right? It just. Makes it so much easier when it comes to giving feedback and assessing if you’re not requiring random things to turn in. And so that kind of also goes around with, don’t require more than is necessary because you can have resources and instructions in there, but you don’t always have to have them.

Submit their assignment to the lms. That will save you a ton of time and will also save your students time as well. Number four, use rubrics as a tool for you, not necessarily your students. Now, your students will probably reference them once when they’re going through to. Decide what to do for that particular assignment, but I’m gonna tell to you straight right now, they are not going to read your comments.

They will not even double check. If they’ve got the rubric there and you’ve clicked from different categories and here’s what they scored, they won’t pay attention to that. All they’ll be looking at is that final score. if you want to give them feedback, I would suggest giving them feedback in a different way, whether that’s a verbally or as they are.

Doing the assignment itself and not using your LMS to give feedback to your students because it will take you a ton of time. I know I’ve done it. I’ve spent hours and hours writing in comments, marking up drawings. They don’t care. They won’t really resubmit. Sometimes they will, but. They’re not really paying attention to the comments and feedback that you’re giving, but the rubrics will help you as you are grading and making your life easier.

So don’t stress out about what the rubric looks like or whether or not your students are reading your comments. Just kind of go in knowing that that rubric is for you, not so much for your students. Number five is use any help forums. So, Typically because LMSs are being used so much, there’s going to be a Google Classroom forum.

There is a canvas forum, and it’s an easy place for you to type in questions and get answers and find out how to do things. I would bookmark, whatever that is. If you’ve never used that LMS before, bookmark that page so that you can refer to it all the time. And that way it will explain to you how to send feedback.

It will explain to you how to create a quiz, how to create an assessment, how to put in a video. It just gives you like that nuts and bolts. Plus, it will also, with the nature of a forum, will allow you to ask questions and then get answers, and then also see what other people are asking and what their answers are that they’re receiving.

Number six, use video whenever possible. this is one of the best things about LM MSS systems? It is, feels like probably one of the worst things for teachers because we are not typically used to recording ourselves. But there are so many things that video helps with differentiation. It can help by having those subtitles, those captions, it can help by having or allowing students to rewatch and get instruction.

It can also allow you to shorten your instruction because you just know that they can re-watch it over and over and over again, and. having to re-explain yourself may not be as necessary, so short and sweet, but those videos are so important. The written instructions while written is great, and yes, students need to know how to read, but a lot of times we end up writing them at two high of a level, and it would be best if students had a video in conjunction with those written instructions.

So whenever possible, Number six is use video. Number seven is provide examples, any assignments, anything where, just like when you’re teaching in the classroom and you provide examples when you can digitize them, do it and provide examples for students so they can see what they. Expectations are what your outcomes are, what what proficiency is.

That is just a general good teaching practice. But provide them within your LMS because especially if they are not at school for some sort of illness or other reason, they can access those examples there as well. Number eight, keep the grade book and LMS up to date as much as possible. depending on the LMS you’re using, and then your grade book, they may or may not talk to one another.

So when I first started using an lms, I did use Moodle and I used Canvas before our district adopted it, and I did have to hand enter in the grades. It was annoying. I know, and I know that there’s. Quite a few teachers that are probably having to do the same thing. One thing that is really simple is to say, oh, refer to Canvas.

That is your final grade. And I know I did that for years. I did it for years. And then as an administrator, I. I had no idea when a parent called or when we were in a parent meeting where that student was, if everything was kept in the LMS and it wasn’t also put into the grade book. see if there is some sort of like, Pass back.

A lot of systems are now talking to one another, especially the bigger systems are talking to one another and they’ll do it automatically. But also if you can keep both of those up to date, it not only will help your students, but it will also help your administrators. And I know it’s kind of tedious, but there are ways around it.

So do some research to figure out how to get it. To talk to one another because that is very important and I feel like with the pandemic and post pandemic, that is becoming more of a reality of getting those to talk to one another. So it’s not a farfetched question to ask. Number nine, a preview, everything.

As a student, a lot of our LMSs there is like a. Button where you can click view as a student, do it on everything you wanna see what they’re going to see. What happens if you’ve already taken away the navigation or limited the navigation. When you push that button, that will disappear and it will just allow you to see what they are seeing, and you will catch errors.

You’ll catch things that are kind of wonky or maybe some misconceptions that. Your students might fall into based on the formatting. So just always preview it as a student. It doesn’t take very long. There’s usually a button that you can click to do that. And then finally, number 10 is check your student data frequently.

One of the powerful things about LMSs is that they allow you, if you are using the grading features and if you’re using quizzes within, there is they are taking data, they’re. Letting you know how your students are doing. But one of the biggest mistakes that I made early on is that I would give an assignment, I’d give a grade a test, whatever.

I’d give a quiz, and then I would never refer back to that data. But it was collecting it all for me, and I could see if I wanted to, I could click a button and I could literally see how my students were doing. On each question. If I was giving a quiz, I could see who was doing well on this question and not so well on this question, and it was a valuable piece for me when I finally figured out to refer to that, I.

To know where I was having gaps in my teaching, and it will also help you figure out where your gaps are. make sure that you use that student data so that you can see how your students are doing and what you can. Do to improve that or reteach so that your students can learn those concepts. We have finally reached the end of this episode, and I’m going to review the list really quickly in case you missed any of them, but you might need to re-listen.

So number one is remove unnecessary navigation. Number two, use the same assignment. And assessment structure for everything. Number three, don’t require photo for submission. If you can give feedback while walking around. Number four, use rubrics as a tool for you. Number five, use the help forum. Number six, use video whenever possible.

Number seven, provide examples. Number eight, keep the grade book and the LMS up to date as much as possible. Number nine, preview everything as a student. And number 10, check student data frequently. If this episode was helpful for you, it could be for others to spread the word about this podcast. Take a screenshot of this episode, add it to your Instagram stories, and tag me at Khristen Massic, K H R I S T E N M A, SSI C Until next week.

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