5 Things You Need to be an Organized Special Education Teacher
As a special education teacher, we have a lot of balls in the air- schedules, growing caseloads, evaluations, curriculums, therapies, data collection and so much more! It can be a crazy ride that leaves you frazzled and frenzied. But, if you work to create systems and find tools to keep you organized, the ride becomes a lot more fun! I'm here to share 5 of my favorite things that help me stay organized as a busy resource teacher.
1) A Large Calendar
Now, I already have an Erin Condren Life Planner that I LOVE and use to keep track of meetings, professional development, IEP deadlines, and all of my outside school life too. But, in my classroom, I use a large desk calendar to keep my school days organized.
I hang this on the wall near my file cabinet with a couple of command hooks. (I don't use a desk, but that is a story for another post!) I record meetings, PDs, and due dates on it. I also add grade level events, school wide assessments, field trips, guest speakers, or anything else that may change our day to day routine. It helps me see at a glance what is going on and be prepared for what is coming that week!
2) A Well Organized File Cabinet
Too often, a file cabinet just becomes a giant hole for all the papers that we will never see again! But, if you have a plan, and keep it organized and even better color coded, it can be a great tool. I use hanging files and colored file folders to keep my drawers organized and useful!
I have a four drawer file cabinet in my room. The top drawer is for student files. Each student has a hanging file folder, color coded by grade level (with the flexibility and growth of my caseload each year, it is just not practical to color code for each kid!) I use three files for each student. The first one is a student information file where I file notes from parents, medical reports, and any additional information. The second file is for data, I put copies of completed data sheets, printouts of assessment data, completed checklists, etc. I store student work samples (originals or copies) in the third file. This is handy as I write progress reports; conference with parents, therapists or teachers; or write IEPs. If needed, I will do a fourth folder to hold blank and completed student specific behavior charts.
My second drawer is for reference files. I organize PD handouts, manuals and handbooks, assessment protocols and other items I need to be able to find when needed, but not have in my teacher binder for daily access. It makes life so easy and less stressful when I can find what I need.
The bottom two drawers are used for storing resources and materials I have made. One drawer is files of originals to be photocopied such as reading passages, math practice, writing prompts. The other drawer has hanging file folders that keep my printed and laminated activities. I group them by subject and store individual activities in Ziploc bags.
3) Paper Sorter
I use so many different types of paper, that a paper sorter is a must! I use two in my room to stay organized. I use one for colored copy paper and colored cardstock. The other is used for writing paper, page protectors and laminating sheets. It helps to be able to find what I need quickly!
4) Storage Boxes
I teach 10 different groups throughout the day- some in my resource room, and some in the regular education classroom. I need to be able find my lesson materials quickly and keep them organized. I use the Sterilte Clip Storage Boxes (in several sizes!) to keep up with my materials. These are the best storage boxes out there!
I have one tote for each group, and load it weekly with any copies, lesson plans, manipulates, games or activities I will need. Each box is labeled on the side with what group it is for, so it makes it easy for me or even a student to find.
5) Rainbow Cart
It seems like EVERYONE has a rainbow drawer cart of some type in their classrooms. I had one with a metal frame previously, but it met an untimely end when someone needed to get out some frustration. I replaced it this summer with this one from Really Useful (similar ones are at Michael's and a god price with a coupon!)
The drawers slide in and out easily, and the wheels are great! I use mine to store all of my fidgets, and sensory items, so I can find them quickly for students and teachers as needed!
When my day is go go go, and I don't get much down time, my organization in my classroom allows me to find what I need quickly, clean up with a breeze, and keep myself pulled together. It saves me time so I can focus on providing the best support to my students and keep myself from feeling so overwhelmed.
What tricks do you have to stay organized? SaveSave