Having an organized classroom or a system that you love is important in special ed. BUT just like our students, one system doesn't work for all of us. Here are 20 ideas to help you find the one(s) that fit you...
1.) Don't try to do it all!! I can't say this one enough. When we hold all of the answers, then we set ourselves up to be interrupted a million times a day with all of the questions. In the post, Set Up Your Room As If You Won't Be There, I break down all of the ways you can delegate to free yourselves up for instruction.
2.) Have a system to manage all of your IEPs and the paperwork that goes along with students. Erin from You Aut-a Know has great tips for making over your filing cabinet. Her system gives you a place for the IEPs and data. Read Conquer The Clutter: How My IEP Cabinet Got A Full On Makeover for more details.
3.) Use technology to help manage students' schedules. Shawn from AUsome Adolescents recommends setting up a Google calendar for each student. She types in all of their therapies and their classes for each day. This allows her to see the blank spaces that she can designate for direct instruction on IEP goals. The calendars can be shared with staff and posted in the classroom for reference.
4.) Traci from The Bender Bunch has found a great system for organizing all of our center materials! Read about her awesome discovery in her post, Best Every TPT Center Storage.
5.) Create systems for the students that provide you with information when your mind is going in a million directions. Here is an easy system for students when they come and go from the classroom for therapies or mainstreaming opportunities. This gives me a quick visual reminder where the student went. Read the details: Easiest Organization Tip For The Special Ed. Teacher.
6.) Allie from Miss Behavior recommends creating labels that are student centered. This will help the students develop independence and responsibilty while creating expectation in your classroom. You can make labels student centered by color coding, adding visuals, using kid friendly fonts, etc.
7.) Holidays naturally snag the attention of our kiddos, so we end up with lots of resoures and materials. Traci at the Bender Bunch has finally found a storage system that works for her. Read more about it: Solution To Holiday Themed Organization/Storage
8.) Natasha form The Resource Teacher has some fantastic ideas on how to keep track of all of the pieces that come with hands on materials. Read how she manages the pieces: Velcro Piece Organization.
9.) Jenn from Teach Love Autism shares a tip to set yourself up for a great year. She says to make sure you have a container, bin or shelf for everything and to label it! It will help staff and students keep the classroom in top top shape.
10.) Have a system for lesson planning! It may look different than in general education classrooms, but it is just as important for us. Having plans written out helps during unplanned absences and to keep the classroom moving along while you are dealing with behaviors. Read about my lesson planning system here: Lesson Planning In Special Education.
11.) Kelsey over at Tools For Busy Hands uses washi tape or colored masking tape to color code different levels of leveled readers. Love how this would give teachers info without students knowing which level is which.
12.) One of my favorite tips comes from Linda over at Looks Like Language. She marks her originals with a yellow highlighter so they don't get used or cut. Did you know you can make copies of the sheet and the yellow highlighter mark doesn't show up on the copy? Love it!
13.) I love the prep counter that Nicole from Adventures In The ATC set up in her classroom. Read more about her classroom: Classroom Reveal & Organization Tips.
14.) Laura from Miss Lulu has some great hacks for your on how to store PECS, task box materials, math manipulatives, etc. I especially like her idea about storing puzzles. I started it a few years ago and it freed up so much space! Read more about it:Storage & Organization Hacks For Sped.
15.) Do you have a ton of sensory bin materials? I hate when they end up all over the place!! Read 5 Tips For Sensory Bin Organization from Supports For Special Students for ideas on corralling it all!
16.) Have you seen this tip from Autism Educators on how to organize your classroom to teach students how to be organized?! Debbie has a tip on how our organization strategy can create a strategy for students. Check it out: Take That Desk and Clean It!
17.) Never run out of staples or office supplies again with this tip from Lisa over at Ur 1 In A Billion. When she was a classroom teacher she kept this box in her classroom, now she keeps it in her trunk as a traveling itinerant teacher. Read about the box: Office In A Box. Another option for itinerant teachers (or traveling therapists) is to use file folder pockets to keep your files organized in your car as you travel from school to school. You could even color code the files for different schools or classrooms. Once you get to your school, simply grab that file and only take the needed files in with you.
18.) I LOVE Autism Classroom News' tips on getting organized even when you don't feel like you have it in you! Read her post, 5 Principles To Organizing Classroom Materials Even When You Feel Like A Hot Mess, for some down to earth tips. Who couldn't use tips like that?!?!
19.) Looking for more info on how to set up your whole sped classroom? Autism Adventures has you covered! Read about her tips here: How To Set Up A Special Education Program.
20.) One of my best tips is to limit visual clutter while you are setting up and organizing you classroom. Our students are easily distraractable, so if they can see items they may want to explore or have they aren't attending to instruction. This post, Ideas For Limiting Visual Distractions, will help you figure out ways to limit that extra distraction... bonus... it makes your room look cleaner! Win!!
BONUS TIP: Set up your classroom with visuals for your staff to save you time! Read all about it: Cue Staff With Visuals!
Do you have a tip that we missed? Please leave it in the comments so we can share it!