Thursday, 14 May 2015

Ten tips for a clutter-free classroom

Tidiness can save time, reduce stress and help you to project a positive and purposeful image to your pupils. Strike a balance between stark minimalism and a mountain of clutter and promote an effective learning environment

1. Organise a storage area. You need somewhere secure to store completed work - a handy place in your classroom or departmental area. Use lever-arch files with plastic wallets for worksheets and coursework, and label them all clearly.
2. Involve your pupils. Classroom tidiness is a shared responsibility, so set up routines for your pupils, particularly at the ends of lessons. Include clearing litter from their own work space and putting it in the bin, stacking textbooks at the ends of rows or by tables, returning pens, pencils, calculators to their proper place, and tidying chairs and tables before leaving the class. Just two minutes of focused activity will leave your room ready for the next class.
3. Use folders and boxes. Label a box and two folders for each group you teach. Use the box for texts, exercise books and relevant equipment. Use one folder for work in progress and the other for finished work. Make pupils responsible for taking work as they come in and replacing it before they leave.
4. Keep your displays and noticeboards fresh and relevant. Update displays as often as possible – nothing looks worse than frayed and yellowing paper that has been hanging on the wall since the last inspection.
5. Keep regular tabs on your in-tray, out-tray and your pigeonhole. Deal with your correspondence and paperwork at a set time every day, and bin anything that has no immediate use.
6. If you have to share a classroom, be ready to make a fuss if your room is left in a mess by pupils who have used it during break or lunchtime. Get there before the bell for several days in a row and ask pupils to leave the room as you want it.
7. Find away to deal with pupils' impedimenta. Unwieldy bags and boxes can be a health and safety issue if they clutter up your floor. If there's room, ask for strong pegs so they can be hung or lockers so they can be put away. Otherwise, get pupils to tuck them under tables.
8. Treat yourself to a smaller bag. Important papers get lost at the bottom of big bags and briefcases. If your personal bag is small, you will have to clear it out frequently, so you'll always know what's in it. Carrier bags from supermarkets are for use in emergencies only they are unkind to their contents and are inherently messy and unprofessional.
9. Keep a tidy computer. Set up folders for each of your teaching groups and organise teaching resources and records so that you can find them easily. Devise a system of easily recognizable "catch lines" for naming files. Use desktop shortcuts for speedy access to frequently used files.
10. Organise a system for paper-based resources. File a copy of every paper resource you use, clearly labelled and organised by subject, year group or course. This way you will build a solid and accessible resource bank.

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