Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mini-Break from Being Busy

I have been a bad blogger! I've just been so busy... I feel like I just don't have time to get anything done! And I haven't been feeling well thanks to my students sneezing and coughing all over me (really?). I had some issues with my car this week and I went home for my sister's birthday so that took a little bit of time out of my usual working time. Plus we are sending home report cards and I finally managed to get them done Friday afternoon and will spend part of today stuffing them in their envelopes so that they will be ready for tomorrow. Not to mention I have to have a sub on Wednesday because I'm going to training. Whew!

Since I have been so busy, I haven't been able to keep up with the Clutter Free Classroom Project at all. :( I did manage to clean off one area above my cubbies and put my monthly resources up there. I wish I had taken a picture—I am so excited about it! I bought 9 tubs and labeled them by month (I combined August/September and May/June) and put all of my read alouds, themed games, and holiday folders in the appropriate tubs. I am so happy with it! My next goal is to clean off the rest of that area and the cubbies that the students don't use. I think what I need to do is make myself de-clutter for at least 15 minutes a day so it doesn't take too much time out of my schedule and doesn't seem like such a daunting task either. I think one of the most frustrating parts of trying to organize my room is that I really do have lots of places to store things, but they are so oddly shaped/tall that I can't figure out the best way to work with those spaces. Hmm...

Well I am off to clean my BEDroom (it currently looks like a laundry room), work on report cards, and go see one of my students in a play. :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I had completely planned on blogging last Sunday but ended up never having the time. I went in to work all day and got so much done—then came home and worked more! I managed to take some pictures for the the Clutter-Free Classroom Challenge (I'm about two weeks behind on the challenge now—how dare work get in the way! ha.) and it was perfect because my classroom was a complete MESS. Not only did I take some horrible pictures but I did manage to clean most of the mess that is seen in the pictures (but I did not take any after photos yet because I have some major changes brewing in my classroom layout—if I can get the help of friends/custodians soon). Here are some of the pictures that I took:

This is normally my guided reading area. As you can see, it's also the area where I do a lot of my work when I'm not meeting with kids. Oops.

The unused word wall (and below you can see how messy my computer area is as well)... I actually took all of this down on Sunday. I would love to put two types of fabric up and turn it in to a language arts focus wall. But that will only happen if I remain in this classroom next year.

The computer that I do all of my work on...

WHAT is going on here?

Cubbies that NEED cleaning.

My classroom library isn't too bad off... I just don't like it being located where it is in the room.

This counter actually looks MUCH better now--I used a lot of my time on Sunday on this area!

It stresses me out to even look at the pictures.... no wonder I am stressed out all the time!

The next step in the challenge is to make a plan to declutter. One of the (very few) benefits of being a first-year teacher is that I haven't had (too) much of a chance to acquire that much clutter but there are a few things that I have got to get rid of. There are a few areas in my room that are kind of scary because the teacher before me left a lot of things and when I was first moving in, I didn't know what I was allowed to throw away. Well, six months later, I have a much better idea of what I can use and most of that stuff is just taking up valuable storage space in my classroom.

Here are some of the areas in my classroom that I would like to focus on and what needs to be done to them:

1. I have these nice cabinets in the back of my room above my cubbies. Two of them are labeled as “I don't know what to do with this...” stuff from the previous teacher. I will be going through this stuff and either getting rid of it or finding a place for what I can use.
2. I have about 10 cubbies that don't get used by students and I use them for extra storage. A few of them are also full of things from the previous teacher and I need to do the same as I mentioned above.
3. Go through what's on top of the cabinets to get rid of things such as old textbooks and see if I can get rid of the overhead projector (???) that's up there as well.
4. Rearrange my classroom so that I can put my textbooks and guided reading materials where I would like them to go.
5. Find a place for every sheet of paper floating around my classroom.
6. Find a way to store all of my center activities for reading and math. While they are in use by students and when they are put away for the rest of the year.

That might be all I can handle for right now. If only I could have a workday where I could just be left alone in my room to do all this decluttering and not spend the whole day in meetings—now that would be amazing!

And as for the rest of this weekend, this is a picture of what I brought home to try to finish. That folder is FULL of all the things I need to grade (the marking period ended yesterday) this weekend. I also need to start on report cards. Siggggh.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Back to School Stress

What a week it has been! The kids, of course, acted like they haven't been in my class the whole year when they got back on Monday. After school, I had a two-hour-long committee meeting (omg) and a rough night personally. The rest of the week was a little bit of a roller coaster, with my kids finally getting back into the routine, lots of testing, and an unsuccessful doctor's visit. I also found out that I will be missing school on Tuesday (and four other days in the next few months) for some reading training. But, I've got some sub plans lined up and a pretty good sub coming in so hopefully it will be a pretty good review day for the kids!

Anyway, as our second nine weeks is wrapping up, I am noticing that very few of my students are going to make their AR goals. Not as many as I would have liked made it last nine weeks, but even fewer are making it this time around. I have been thinking and thinking of a way that I could possibly motivate the kids to do better and I realized that part of the problem is that the students have no true way of keeping track of their own progress. And then I had an epiphany this morning (when I work up at 6:30—what in the world, right?) and I think I found the solution to our problem! I have created a little chart to attach to each student's desk that will keep track of their progress. Each time a student passes an AR test, they will get a sticker to put in one of their boxes. When the chart is filled up, they may turn it in for a treat... and then they get a new chart to fill up! For my students that are taking tests on books with more points, they will get more stickers per passed test (0.5 points= one sticker). If you're familiar with AR, then you know what I'm talking about. If you would like to use or see the chart, here it is... I'm not sure why the top two charts look the way they do but that's how they came out in Google Docs!

AR Chart

This week, I am hoping to start on the Clutter Free Classroom Project! My room is driving me so crazy that I asked my principal if she would let a few of us come in to school tomorrow to work and she agreed! I will be taking my before pictures while I'm there and hopefully will have a chance to organize a few things. If I get some time tomorrow, I'll try to post those pics.