Monkey Off My Back

So, I finally did it. I finally got this stupid monkey off my back. Every year before school I get anxious over setting up my room in the perfect way. This year I’ve been a bit extreme about it. I’ve been planning it since I knew which room I was getting. My room is designed to hold no more than 14 students, since I teach special education and they designed the rooms that way on purpose. But you know what? I GET A ROOM TO MYSELF! So though I may make jokes about being the smallest classroom in the building (that was last year, and that was no joke. This year I have the second-smallest classroom), please punch me in the neck if you ever hear me legitimately complaining about having a room. Seriously. Right in the jugular. But since my room happens to be low on space but high on activity, organization and management of what (and who) is in that room is key. And yesterday I went into school to get all that settled so I can get this stupid monkey off of me.

So let me show you a few not-so-great-and-kind-of-blurry pictures that I took with my phone when I was there yesterday.

This is what I walked into today:

My classroom, “before.” Look how spacious and clean it looks!

Back half of class, “before.” I had already gone in last week to move all those books from my former room to those shelves. And yes, I have a corner room and YES, I HAVE WINDOWS! Have I said that yet?

Front of the classroom, “Before.” Be jealous of my two whiteboards and Promethean Board. Be very jealous.

And then I started actually organizing and getting down to business. I love not having a big room because this didn’t take me long.

This might be my favorite part!!!

I love my desk area! No extra crap on the desk (my “tech desk” is up front so I can dock the computer there to use the Promethean Board). Just the necessary stapler, tape dispenser, and hole punch(es). That is a bulletin board above my desk with just sample fabric I bought at The Walmarts for a few bucks each (3 half yards, I think? I don’t know. I could be making that up). Don’t judge me for the wrinkles and the visible pins. I just threw it up there to see if I’d like it. And I do. I’ll make it look better later.

And yes, that is a *ahem, third* whiteboard next to that bulletin board.

The bookshelf behind my desk…my essentials. NO STUDENTS ALLOWED BEHIND THE DESK!

On the shelf behind my area, I have a 3 little drawers and a medium-sized cloth bin from Le Target to hold my personal stuff, plus pens, pencils…the usual teacher stuff.

BTDubbs- those are Facebook “Like” and “Dislike” stamps. The kids love them! I don’t actually use the “Dislike” stamp, but every so often a teenager will leave my classroom with  half his body “Liked” and the other half “Disliked.” Sometimes this is self-imposed, sometimes not. They love it.

The Student Center! This way they won’t have to ask me a million times if I have a pen to borrow or if I have any paper. If I have it, it will be there. If not, they are out of luck.

It drives me nuts when half the students don’t have a pen or a piece of paper or a clue, or what-have-you. So they can go here if they need something. If it isn’t there, I don’t have it. Those two drawers in the cabinet are also for them. The doors down below are NOT for them. They already know this since it was my room last year.

The Student Center Jackpot!

Since I am planning on implementing Individual Student Notebooks (more on that process in a later post), this is where they can also find all the extra materials they will need for that- glue, post-its, colored pencils, etc.

Of course we need some posters on the wall. There are more to put up, but this was all the time I had. And is that Lightening Thief poster crooked? Ugh. I’ll never get to sleep tonight just because of that.

With the desks…not quite as spacious, huh? Desk arrangements are always a work in progress.

But wait! There’s more!! I am in this class for 3 periods, but I also float out to 2 different classes. And I need to lug my gear and still keep it organized. Behold…the 31 Gifts Organizing Utility Tote!

The tote is in much better shape than it looks. It’s just been crumpled in my hot car for a bit. But it can hold file folders, notebooks, and binders. Trust me. I tried them all.

Yep! The file box comes out! I got it at Le Target and I love that the box can come out for when I need that tote for something else. Totally brill.

Ok. I know what you’re thinking. I didn’t come up with that idea on my own. Good eye! You’re right! I totally stole it from Pinterest. Go here to see the original post over at The Nest Effect. She’s a genius.

So there you have it. I like to be as frills-free in the classroom as possible. I find a lot of extra stuff over-stimulating for my students and just plain unnecessary. So some of you might be thinking, “But wait! There’s still white space on the walls!” or “Hold the phone! Aren’t you going to put more stuff in there??” Actually, this room is almost done now. Obviously, I’m not completely finished and I’m not even close to being ready to start the school year yet, but I feel good about it. I feel like I got a good jump on the year. Now I don’t have to spend the teacher work week scrambling for time to put my room together. Now I can use that week to scramble for time to meet with all 3 of my PLC’s and my two collaborative partners. But at least I’m one monkey down!

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8 thoughts on “Monkey Off My Back

  1. I am totally impressed!!! You inspire me to get organized here. Great job, Bri! I love the uncluttered look. I used to always start my school year that way to avoid over stimulating the kids. Their work became the “decorating” factors as the year progressed. You sound like you are ready to go!

  2. Looks awesome! I give you an A +. So I understand you do not want an over stimulating classroom but girl you need some curtains on those big windows. Get some more fabric from the good ol Walmart and and show us your crafty self!

    • Slow down, Tiffany! I can pull together some school supplies, but I can’t sew. I’ve always wanted to learn though, so maybe curtains will be my test project 🙂

  3. Bri,
    When Katie and I take our evening walk we walk around CLCS. There is one classroom on the backside that uses shower curtains for the windows. Does the trick….easy to install with a rod…..and you would not have to practice sewing techniques until you do your crafty thing for Christmas gifts. 🙂
    Love you,
    me

  4. Looks great so far, Bri! 🙂 I love the school supply station idea. Wish I’d used that when I was in the classroom. I was always scrounging for pencils to loan out!!! And I like the new layout.

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