I love the new year. It's full of excitement of the new things that will be happening. It feels like a fresh start, too. I find myself getting things organized in my classroom as I get ready for a new year. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks as well as some of my favorite tools for keeping an organized classroom, but I'm still able to keep everything I may need at my fingertips.
**Note: This post included affiliate links. If you purchase any of the items featured in this post you will not be charged any more and a small commission will be sent my way. This helps keep this website up and running.**It's always such a battle between order and things in a special education classroom. Our students need a lot of supports to help them access their curriculum and to be able to participate in activities but this just means MORE STUFF in our classroom. If you don't have a good system in place for organizing and storing all this "stuff" you're quickly going to be drowning in data sheets, sensory fidgets, behavioral icons, classroom schedules, and so much more.Morning meeting is a routine in our classroom. We meet together to practice greetings, review our calendar, and other basic skills in the morning. But our morning meeting requires SO. MUCH. STUFF. Pointers for the calendar, stirrers for counting the days we've been in school, fidgets for students with busy hands, behavior icons to remind students of behavior. Seriously this list could go on and on! We even meet at our circle later in the day and read stories. So I need to store even more at our morning meeting circle. But there's no way you can just leave all that stuff laying around, especially in a highly structured classroom for students with sensory processing issues.I keep two big plastic storage bins in the front of my classroom. This is where we store all of our calendar pieces, stickers, books for story time, sensory fidgets and anything else you can possibly think of. These are also great because they provide a surface for students to match their circle time icons to and for me to use my "homemade" smart board (it's just a wireless mouse I keep at circle to control my laptop from afar, no high tech over here). I've seen some awesome pinterest ideas where people have spray painted the drawers so you can no longer see in them. I have thought about doing that, but seriously, who has time for that?! (although I'm kind of tempted now that I found this awesome gold drawer painting job)This is one of my favorite purchases I've made. This magnetic pocket adheres to the whiteboard (or in my case the file cabinet behind my teacher chair) and I'm able to store all of my whiteboard markers and pointer inside of it. This leaves it out of the reach of my very curious students, but it's still accessible when we are having morning meeting and need to use the tools inside.
Do you take a lot of data during your morning meeting? I know we do in our classroom. I know I've previously written about how I like to keep data sheets in the setting in which we will observe the behavior we are collecting data on and many of my students have goals for whole group instruction time. I store a wall file system near circle time and store data sheets inside. When it is morning meeting time, my IAs can pull out the data sheets needed for the day and collect data during our Morning Meeting. I simply attach these using Command Picture Hanging Strips and they are able to stay up all year long.
We also count how many days we have been in school by adding coffee stirrers to our tens and ones pocket chart. So where do I keep all 180 coffee stirrers for the year and the rubber bands we will need to use to group these together? They also go on the file cabinet behind my chair at circle. I keep the sticks and rubber bands in magnetic bins I picked up at back to school time. They are very similar to these ones.
Now I have most of my materials for Morning Meeting put away and stored so we can access them, but what about all those behavioral icons? I don't know about you, but I have icons for behavior all around my classroom. I carry them around with my keys, but those often get handed off for bathroom runs or I take them off when prompting so they don't get tangled in students hair, so when I need them, they're not always readily available. At morning meeting time, I have a few things going on. I have a few rings of behavior icons on Command hooks on storage bins at the front of circle time. I also love the mini pocket chart I have hung on the wall next to my chair at our morning meeting circle. I simply used push pins to hang one of these mini pocket charts and I have sorted out the different icons I may need during circle time. They're right there and easy to access during our meeting times.
What tools are must haves for organizing your Morning Meeting time? Drop me a comment to let me know. I am a fan of anything that will save me a few seconds throughout the day.