I’ve been in the teaching game now for 5 years. Long enough to feel like a veteran, but still short enough to remember all of the valuable lessons I learned during my student teaching experience. My cooperating teacher was simply the best. She taught me so much more than I ever expected in 5 short months. During my time with her, she showed me the importance of PLANNING AHEAD. Not just having a set of worksheets set aside in case students get finished early, but to really walk through imaginary scenarios of potential positives/negatives within the layout of the classroom. She taught me to sit, imagine, and be proactive.
Going in to my first classroom (in 2012), I knew I wanted to do away with desks (less distractions for kiddos). The issue was, WHERE will I keep their textbooks/notebooks/folders/supplies?! Students come with so many things at the beginning of the year, so what would I do with everything? I literally sat on top of one of my tables for TWO hours just thinking.
If I put my textbooks there, how would that effect the traffic flow if they needed them out at once?
If I let students keep their own supplies, where would I store them?
Should I do community supplies?
Which items would still remain theirs?
Where will I keep my community supplies?
Where will the students line up?
Where will they keep their library books?
Should I even keep my teachers desk?
Where will they keep their folders?
Where will I keep my spirals?
How will I have students get materials, so it’s not mass chaos?!
As you can see. I ask a LOT of questions. That’s not even the half of it. I feel like throughout the years, I’ve come up with a pretty well oiled machine of a set up, and I’d love to share my experience with you, in case you’ve considered doing away with your student desks and are dealing with mass chaos with student supplies.
Introducing………. My community supplies area:
Anything and everything a student might need can be found on this neat little counter area. Anywhere from notebook paper to erasers. When students need a sharpened pencil, they exchange their dull pencil for a sharper one.
Community supplies isn’t anything new to most teachers though, so let me get into the fun stuff…..
Introducing……. my textbook/notebook area:
Every table in my classroom is a specific color, and students are given a specific number at their table. My textbooks are shared among the students and each have their own color and number associated with it.
Table Red would get their textbooks from the table red area:
If I need students to get out dictionaries, then I say for example, “All #2’s please get out dictionaries.” Then all of the #2’s at each table group would find their colored cubby, and bring back all of the dictionaries for the students at their table group.
I used to have student’s writing boxes in their cubbies as well, but they kept getting torn up, so now they just rest on the counter. Students will just grab their own boxes when needed as I call there table groups.
Library books are stored in a specific team colored bin, and students know that if they want to borrow a book from a friend, they MUST ASK their permission:
Overall the system works fabulously!
Did I mention that pencils can be a huge deal when they’re community shared? Fixed that problem with good ol’ pencil holders!
Organizing and finding what works best is my most favorite past time. It’s always a challenge, but it’s always worth it!