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Organization Tips For Special Education!
Old 08-04-2009, 10:54 AM
 
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1. Get rid of that teacher's desk if you can!

2. Use an over the door shoe organizer (transparent) for storing supplies such as: staplers, paper clips, post it notes, index cards, staple removers, pens, pencils, scissors (adult), hole punchers, anything else office related and it's quick to find and organized.

2b. For mild/moderate teachers: the over the door shoe organizer is perfect for storing manipulatives as well.

3. Purge any "materials (including hand made)" that you haven't used in the past 2 years because I guarantee it will become clutter. Replace cardboard boxes with the plastic containers so that you can see what's inside the boxes. You really don't want to have a lot of storage boxes in your classroom.

4. Skip going to the teacher supply sales because you will be tempted to buy things that you might need "later" but where will you store it? It becomes clutter already. Trust me, I've learned a SERIOUS lesson from this kind of binge buying.

5. Get to your classroom at least 1-1.5 weeks in advance and plan on doing some serious purging and sorting.

6. Get 3 large boxes and label them: keep, donate, and finally trash.

7. Take an inventory of your room and get an idea of what needs organization and quicker access as well. Write down your ideas on a sheet of paper and use it as a guide for your clearing up of the classroom.

8. Start to sort the items in the 3 boxes and make sure that there is a large BLACK trash bag in there so that you can tie it up, and not look back in the trash bag.

9. Make sure that you have eaten a small meal (not a simple snack) so that you have the ENERGY to do this task.

10. Do not try to do this in a few days, it will take a minimum of a week to get it organized.

11. Measure with a tape measure where you want bins to be placed, storage containers so that you don't get the wrong size containers.

12. Play some music that is uplifting or invite a friend to help you with this task.

13. Everything must have a "home" or a tray, container, bin so that it's easy to access and put back into place.

14. You will be tempted to save "trash and junk" but save only what you know you're going to use.

15. Label all containers and boxes or put photographs on them and show your classroom assistants how you want your items returned or stored.

16. Do not be attempted to save materials that wouldn't work with your population: (ie: anything above 1st grade level is ridiculous for students with severe-profound multiple disabilities)

17. Take photos of loose sensory-items that don't fit in containers and put the photos on the shelves where they can be stored.

18. Label sensory items: 1. tactile 2. visual 3. auditory 4. olfactory (smell): Put materials related to these items into these types of containers or bins.

19. Teach your staff and students to put things back where they were found originally and demonstrate this through your own actions as well.

20. Keep all cleaning supplies for toileting, ect in a safe place in a locked filing cabinet preferably.


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AW, Man! Are you spying on me?
Old 08-04-2009, 12:00 PM
 
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Talking to my janitors? Supervisor? WHAT gives?

Get out of my head now!!

JK--I do know what you mean...I am seriously guilty of all of the above. The worst part is that I continue on with the buying and picking up stuff. Part of that is because, even if I know I've got it, I don't know where it is!

Right now, our teacher's lounge is FULL to the ceiling of stuff that other teachers are disposing of from their rooms. Granted I've carried my share down there too--but I rarely come back empty-handed. It kills me to know that it will all most likely be trashed.

I have to admit that I am a little overwhelmed right now. The first two days in my room I literally sat in dumbfounded wonder at it all.
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Lmao!!
Old 08-04-2009, 01:50 PM
 
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This is what I was doing today. However, I am being alittle selfish and keeping my desk- it is kinda my "comfort area" that I go to when I need to take a break.
I ended up walking out of the room when I was going through all my homemade flashcards wondering whether I could organize them and keep them - WRONG. Tomorrow I will go back and they all are going in the garbage! I havent used them in ... cant remember. So good bye flashcards! Everything else I've done well with throwing away. I don't know why these were a problem for me.
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Those are great suggestions.
Old 08-04-2009, 08:30 PM
 
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My favorite one is to avoid the teacher sales. The one I don't understand is getting rid of the teacher's desk. My computer and IEP files have to go somewhere, as does my desk. I know that lots of teachers are getting rid of their desks, but I don't understand why. Maybe it prevents some teachers from being tempted to sit at it all day--like that would ever be possible.
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some good suggestions
Old 08-04-2009, 09:20 PM
 
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I like the purging anything you haven't used in two years rule. I am pretty highly organized at school, so I've used some of your suggestions and have many of my own. I don't have trouble keeping the staplers, etc. handy because I have a place for almost everything, .

I was going to comment on the desk thing as well. I read on a lot of boards how gen. ed. teachers are getting rid of their desks. While they may be able to get away with this, I honestly don't see what the point of taking away our 'paperwork stations' would be?? I'm with Blue Heron....my computer and my daily files go there, along with my daily documentation, and other 'need to do now' paperwork. Where would I put this stuff if I got rid of my desk? I can't have it in student areas, so it needs to go on my desk. I also think kids need to learn that teachers have a work area just like the students do. My students have access to just about the entire room. I need to have a place where the students cannot access highly sensitive information.

There would be no danger of temptation to 'sit' all day, . But I do a good two-three hours or more of paperwork per day...and I'm not going to sit at an uncomfortable table to do that.


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Thanks AspieTeacher
Old 08-05-2009, 08:12 AM
 
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I appreciate all the wonderful ideas-I was on overload in my classroom yesterday. I started last Thursday and had a friend to help arrange and bounce ideas off and it really makes a difference. I've made a sensory area (I have multiple disabilities-several students with autism) and need an area where students can take a break, but didn't think to label those bins. I think it'll really help, because past experience had taught me that everything is left on the floor/table at the end of class and I spend the end of each day putting stuff away. I did use picture labels for my art supplies and it made me feel great just to find a place for everything. My teacher/classroom supplies are next. Most of all , your post made me feel good about the time I've been spending in my room. My family had been giving me a hard time and asking why I'm not done yet-they have no idea how much work there is. I was starting to wonder if I was getting obsessed with organizing, but I really feel it will be a time-saver in the long run. Good luck everyone and have a great year.
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You're Not Being Obsessive, You Just Care!
Old 08-05-2009, 11:35 AM
 
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If it takes you a little longer to organize your classroom than others, it shows how much you really care about your students and reducing the time to access items. Make sure that you use a tape measure to get the measurements of areas where bins, containers, baskets, trays will be used to store materials. Don't make the same mistake as me and go buy containers of varying sizes and have NO CLUE on how to use them. Photographs of what goes inside smaller containers is the best in my opinion and it reduces the understanding of what goes inside the container, bin, tray, basket, ect. For all of you out there who don't know me that well, I'm a male teacher too! Yes, even male teachers want organization in their classrooms. I don't mind how it looks as long as materials and supplies are easier to access. I was an autism support teacher for 7.5 years and I learned a lot during my teaching. Just remember, do not wait until the last minute to clean and organize your classroom. You will need just a week for organization and structuring of the "physical layout" first. Next, you will need some time to get rid of materials and supplies you don't have use for. PURGE, PURGE, PURGE, you shouldn't save anything that you haven't used in the past 2 years! It will take up more space than you think. I wish that my cabinets didn't have doors because I forget what's inside. I will use photographs to show what's inside my cabinets instead. It will reduce the confusion on to what goes where. When I retire, I plan on becoming a professional teacher organizer for a very low fee. I enjoy doing this for almost "fun" to be serious.
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Almost Out of the Closet
Old 08-05-2009, 02:45 PM
 
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I have one more box and just putting my posters back in their boxes and I will be done purging and organizing my closet. Tomorrow I will set up the room and my teacher desk so I can get into the cabinets and organize those on Monday.
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Aspie Teacher--curious
Old 08-05-2009, 03:57 PM
 
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I am curious as to why you say to get rid of the special ed. teacher's desk. You didn't answer Blue Heron and myself when we questioned this. Even though I would not be swayed, curious minds want to know!!!
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Still thinking about the desk question?
Old 08-06-2009, 08:34 AM
 
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I am wondering where all the teachers' desks are supposed to go after being removed from the classrooms? Do they go outside by the dumpsters between the custodian's office and the cafeteria? No room there? Could they fill a parking space in the tiny parking lot in front of the school? Hmmm? How about the empty classroom on the 2nd floor? No, that room is being used next year? What about having the custodian help me haul it out to the sidewalk, and I can put a free sign on it? If the custodian is too busy, perhaps I could convince my husband to come in and help me move it? It isn't really mine to giveaway. So, maybe there is a district number that I could call to have someone collect my desk and take it to a surplus warehouse? Where would I store my desk in the 8 3/4 months it would take for them to come to my school even it there were such a service? What if I had to change rooms or schools, and the next teacher wanted a desk?


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good questions, Blue Heron :)
Old 08-06-2009, 09:18 AM
 
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Good point that the teacher's desk isn't OURS to give away or get rid of .


Seriously, I am just trying to picture myself doing paperwork for 2-3+ hours a day w/o a desk.....I know some teachers say they go to those student reading tables...I do work on mine at times, while the kids are having their 'Friday Choice Time' because I don't sit at my desk when kids are present (rarely anyway...and only when 'I' don't have groups/kids) but it just isn't feasible to keep my files, laptop, etc. on my student tables.

Also...and this is really only a small part of it....and something I've only been thinking about because I keep reading about all these gen. ed. teachers who are so proud of themselves because they got rid of their desks (and heavily imply that THIS makes them a better teacher somehow ). I think kids need to know that the teacher has a 'spot' in which to work and that the materials at that spot should not be disrupted. Like I said, I am rarely sitting at my desk when any kids are present in my room. I do the vast majority of my paperwork before or after school, BUT, the kids know that the teacher's desk is OFF limits and they are not to touch anything on it. They would not be so careful with matierals on a student table nor should they be expected to be. Maybe I'm 'old school' on this point, but I think sometimes we try to bring ourselves to the level of the students TOO much and lose some of that professionalism. JUST some thoughts .

ETA: I think too...that even though we all know how much paperwork special ed. teachers have, we forget that some of us have large caseloads (I've had up to 30)--so more paperwork PLUS teach 3, 4, 5 (in my case) or sometimes more grade levels. I would venture to say maybe some teachers in a smaller program (one or two grade levels, less than ten students, etc...) would naturally have less paperwork. NOT to say they don't need a desk/place to do work! Just another thought. I know that the teacher who was previously in my position left to teach a self contained classroom because she couldn't keep up with all the paperwork.
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Why You Should Get Rid Of That Teach Desk!
Old 08-07-2009, 02:10 PM
 
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Here is my response to as why you should get rid of that teacher's desk. Teacher's desks are culprits for clutter and junk storage. Many of them are used to store junk and things that the teacher is not able to find storage or a "home" for and it looks really trashy. Some teachers keep their computers on the teacher's desk too. I think (my opinion) that computers should be in their own area for staff use. I am trying to get rid of at least 3 extra teacher's desks they left in my room which is very annoying. It takes up too much space when you're working with students severe-profound disabilites. I have too many tables, bookcases, and shelves as well. I wish there was a teacher with a pick-up truck so that he could haul all of the extra equipment I have no use for. It would help greatly.
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didn't convince me, LOL
Old 08-07-2009, 02:41 PM
 
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I should put up a pic of my desk...it is VERY organized . Even when I am working on multiple IEP's, my piles of data are pretty organized. I take a good swipe at it every Friday almost w/o fail and make sure I still need everything on it. I'm a bit anal, .

I disagree about the computer area. I have a small computer bench with 4 pc's for my students...and my assistants check their email from these. There is almost no room to put papers next to the computers on this bench. Regardless...I have a school-issued laptop to do my paperwork on. It goes on my desk because it is not for students/IA's, plus I need room to work.

Anyway, you didn't answer as to what we were supposed to do w/ the paperwork. I think you would agree that we all work in very different programs and some need more or different equipment. I wouldn't want more than one desk, so I don't blame you for wanting to get rid of EXTRA furniture. I am in a portable and have no extras. I was lucky enough to scrounge a kidney table from a 1st grade teacher who had an extra one right before school let out and our wonderful janitor took my old one and one old file cabinet to surplus at the district office for me. I don't want anything I'm not using either, but I teach multiple students/groups all day long. Why can't you get these extra things removed from your room?
Curious, where do you do your paperwork?
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Teacher table...
Old 08-07-2009, 03:19 PM
 
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I teach students' with emotional/behavior disorders. I got rid of my desk for more space and safety. I found that I never sat at my desk anyway, (I completed paperwork at my kidney table). When my students' would go into a rage they would 1. run/hide under my desk 2. throw my personal things from the desk. I have a district issused laptop, I keep it on the kidney table or in my bag until I need it. I have a small compact colorful 15 drawer cart that keeps all my personal items and supplies. I guess it is a personal decision. I love working at the kidney table (I have more space than I had at my desk), the students' call it "The teacher station." Works well!
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tell me more about your cart
Old 08-09-2009, 05:49 AM
 
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I like what you're saying about the desk/no desk issue. Can you tell me about your 15 drawer cart? Do you have a link I can go to so I can "see" what this might look like.
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Have not convinced me either...
Old 08-09-2009, 08:18 AM
 
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Granted that some teacher desks are crosses between toxic waste sites and landfills, but not all are. I think that helping people get organized should be about helping them analyze what is working and what is needed. Saying as a general rule that all teachers should first get rid of their desks seems the akin to saying that all teachers should lose 25 pounds.
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15 drawer cart
Old 08-09-2009, 10:12 AM
 
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I got it for 50% off at Mardel's. The top is large/wide enough to hold my printer and lap top. Thanks
Attached Files
File Type: doc 15 drawer cart.doc (27.0 KB, 92 views)

Last edited by I Luv SpEd; 08-09-2009 at 10:14 AM.. Reason: added information
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desk or no desk
Old 08-10-2009, 07:33 PM
 
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It seems this is a big isssue---well I beleave there should be a desk especially in the case of an EI classroom....It is a place I can keep my computer, and things that my studetns use as weapons(scissors, staplers, rubber bands) I also use it to each respect for other peoples things. It is always out of the way and where I can place my personal printer ( with having so much paper work on line) I also have a place to keep my stuff in organized piles
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