March 3, 2018

Let's get Flexible, Flexible! - My Kindergarten Journey in Flexible Seating

Happy Saturday!! Today, I wanted to write about flexible seating in my classroom. At this point in the year (March!) and with many thanks to Donors Choose, I am now 100% full on flexible seating in my classroom.

I wanted to give you a flexible seating classroom tour!

I also wanted to fill you in on some tips and tricks I've learned along the way.

1. I introduced each flexible seating item ONE AT A TIME. Because I was waiting on pieces to come when Donors Choose projects got funded, they had to be introduced one at time. So...every time I would bring in something new, we would have a class conversation, talk about rules and safety, where and when they'd be able to use it, and how to use it. I found this system extremely beneficial! My mind is still working on figuring out how next year is going to go with introducing the flexible seating to my students.

2. Because of flexible seating, my students no long had assigned seating which meant no name tags. This is very important in Kindergarten, because they are learning to write their name!  I didn't realize this until about a week into 10% flexible seating and a kid said, "But Mrs. Green, how do I make my J?" and I was like AHHHHHH. So. I made cups and they have their name tags and scissors with them!

3. ^^ going along with #2. Because my students no longer had assigned seating (and all of my classroom tools - scissors, crayons, etc are community supplies) anytime a child left his/her seat, we didn't know who had been sitting where or when or how or why or all of the above. This became extremely difficult at snack time and we didn't know if it was an empty space or the snack helper's space or if that friend was in the bathroom. HOT. MESS. So, the blue cups have saved the day again by saving their place!

4. I allow my students to move places and spaces with each transition of our day. This gives them the opportunity to try out different seating throughout the day. At first, I thought this would be hard, difficult, and a terrible thing happening in my classroom EVERY MINUTE. But in reality, it has become really fluid. Kindergarten has so many transitions throughout the day (sometimes within 10 minutes) and it allows the students to grab their name cup and find a new spot. It switches things up! It allow them to sit in new spaces and places!

5. If students abuse it, they lose it. Straight up. That's it. Like.....the wobble stool is over your head because you decided to wave it in the air? NOPE. You are rolling on the yoga balls like a nut? DONE. The floor pillows are for hitting your friend? SSTAWWWPP. They know, it all started on the first day when I laid down the rules. If you don't use the seating in the correct way, then you lose that seating for the rest of the day. (Sometimes the week - depending on severity ;) )

6. It has enhanced classroom community. Friends, I was floored by this. FLOORED. I thought friend groups would try to sit with friend groups, and kids would be trying to save seats...but my friends have really sat with many different people at each transition. They are created new friendships, connected with old one, and my classroom community has really flourished. I was worried cliques would start at the leaf pillow table or friends would want to all sit together at each space, but they really have chosen the bet spot for them and it has created an AMAZING community!

7. Flexible seating is another classroom management piece. Keep this in mind!! If you feel like your management might be lacking right now (or something you need to strengthen) or if you feel like you don't want to add something else to your plate  - then don't. You don't have to have flexible seating in your classroom to create a great classroom experience or learning experience for your students. But if you want to have flexible seating - you have to manage it, and manage it well in order for it to be successful.

If you are on a flexible seating journey, I'd love to hear how it's going for you! Or if you have any tips or tricks to pass on to others! If you aren't and want to know more, please ask away! And if you are considering it, I hope you take the plunge. I have loved it!!

February 25, 2018

All about that Balance

hi friends!

I'm taking off my teacher hat for a minute and putting on my wife and fur mama hat.

One of my goals for 2018 has been to get even MORE organized than ever before while MAINTAINING my sanity. I know... tall order, right? :) I have realized that time is of the essence in this beautiful life and I truly want my time to be spent efficiently.

There are a few things that are against me...
1) I'm extremely OCD obsessed with keeping my house clean.
2) I'm deeply passionate about my job - I get there early and I say yes to too many things
3)  Netflix is a trap that can consume me for days, leaving all house chores to complete themselves

But, I have decided that we as busy teachers, wives, and mamas dedicate ourselves SO MUCH to just that - being a teacher, a wife, or a mama (or all 3!!)! Simple things like keeping a clean home can become overwhelming.

...or if you're just let it all pile up until Saturday and you spend 8 hours undoing Sunday through Friday messes and become frustrated with a whole day wasted.

(seriously...this week I had dishes from Monday in the sink ON FRIDAY, four loads of clean laundry scattered in "piles" around my bedroom floor, buffalo chicken dip crusted on my counter from LAST SUNDAY. (I know, that's disgusting) and just an all around dirty house!)

The next issue with ALL things balance is that healthy, fit lifestyle that so many of us crave but have no time for!

So! That being said! I've researched, I've talked to real life mamas, I've spoken with real life teachers, and I've shared coffee with real life wives who are done with the struggle bus of keeping a clean home, doing a great job at work, and having time to have a conversation with your husband and make connections with your kids. We have a really big (some might say tall ;)) order to fill and sometimes it leaves us emotionally drained with not enough time left over to laugh, or converse, or just simply watch TV.

*Disclaimer: This is not just for people who LIKE to keep their house clean. Maybe your messy and you need some help organizing your cleaning process to help you keep the house clean? Maybe your a husband looking for ways to help your wife out throughout the week? This is for you!!*

With my conversations and my own experiences, my newest product is a Cleaning Schedule for Teachers and Mamas and Wives who need to keep their sanity. :) This is going straight into my kitchen command center so I can keep my house clean, keep my day job, and keep my sanity.

Who knew that simply by "checking" or "inspecting" things around the home throughout the year could prevent major costs or fixes when things go wrong?? My monthly lists include a lot of check-ups to make sure things are in proper order - they should take no more than 15 minutes for you to do a quick check of the specified item to make sure things are working correctly! I did a lot of research and compiled common things to make one huge list! I hope you enjoy!


My freebie is posted here - it only contains the weekly cleaning schedule.

My full product is posted here - it contains the weekly cleaning schedule, a day by day cleaning schedule, a daily to-do list, and a monthly home care schedule (most components will be available in multiple sizes for whatever your needs may be!)

^^I'm going to try to follow this - and see how my balance and organization goals play out!

February 18, 2018

How I invite Jesus into my Classroom

The shooting on Wednesday, February 14 has given me a lot of feelings. Feelings of hurt, feelings of even more extra love for my students, and feelings of terrifying reality. I can't help but rely on Jesus in times of terror, in times of sadness, and in times when our nation is shaken to it's core.

One of my favorite hymns sings;

"My hope is built, on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus name."

^^ Right now, that's all I can do.

I posted a quote I typed up a few weeks ago that said, "My classroom runs on coffee and the grace of Jesus." In the description of the quote, I wrote how when I extend grace to myself and my students, it shows how they can extend grace to others...

and how we can start to make the world a nicer, kinder, sweeter place - one Kindergartner at a time!

Ever since I posted that quote, I've really considered the other ways that I invite Jesus into my classroom.

To clarify:

  • Yes, I'm a teacher who follows Jesus - and more specifically, a Mennonite! 
  • Yes, I teach at a public school and...
  • no, we don't talk about Jesus there - and I don't mind one bit!

Because in my experience, inviting Jesus into places and spaces is more about my actions than my words. He is in my classroom daily and I don't even have to mention His name.

I really thought about the opportunity that I am presented to invite Jesus into my classroom each day. I thought about the way that being a follower of Jesus has changed the way that I teach, interact, guide, and love on my students.

I can tell you one thing - without Jesus, I would definitely be less patient and less understanding. I wouldn't be as caring or as reflective. I wouldn't be so concerned with their well-being outside of the classroom. I'm not saying you can't be these things without Jesus, but I will say He is the defining factor in my teacherhood life that helps me, on the daily!

Here a few ways in which you too can invite Jesus into your Classroom.

1. Pray for your students - The coolest thing about Jesus is that HE IS EVERYWHERE. He knows when I'm talking to him or what my thoughts are. I send up prayers like nobody's business - super informal, sometimes just a glance towards my ceiling, sometimes within the middle of a hug. Nobody know's I'm praying, sometimes I just whisper a child's name. But I am praying for my kiddos.

2. Go the extra mile - go farther with each student! Check in, establish relationships with them and with their families. Make sure they are getting food to eat and clothes to wear. Do what you can to love them in all aspects, even outside the classroom. Extend the service and love of Jesus to them through acts

3. Emphasize empathy - something I make a priority in my classroom is empathy. We celebrate when there is cause for celebration with claps and cheering and hip hip hoorays! We love on others when they've lost grandparents or when they just plain feel sad. We have worked and learned and trained each other on how to be kind, be caring, and how to FEEL for others. These qualities established at 5 will surely go with them. They are learning to care, to rely on each other, and to be there for each other.

4. Forgive and Forget - this is a policy in my classroom! When students make weak choices, we talk about them, we forgive, and we move on. You can do it too! I never let something from yesterday enter today or tomorrow. I never remind them of what they've done wrong. It is in the past and their slate is wiped clean. Jesus gives us a brand new start each morning, I can do the same for my five year old friends.

5. Conversation in Conflict - I always found it almost funny how Jesus conversed in the middle of heated arguments....until I realized, he had it right. Have your students talk in the middle of something that might be upsetting them. Instead of tattling, have a space where they can go share their feelings. In the end, they enjoy being the ones to fix their problem, rather than asking an adult. No feelings are hurt, no one is "in trouble". Conflict happens, disagreements occur - WE ARE HUMAN. But how we handle those conflicts is how we learn to handle anything that comes our way.

6. Everyone comes to the table - everyone is welcome, everyone is invited, everyone plays. No one is refused, no one is turned away. If the game is "full" and someone else wants to join, we find a different game where everyone can play. The spirit of inclusion is not new to my classroom. Everyone comes to the table, literally, because typically I have 20 kids around my tiny table interested in something I'm doing.

7. Joy - inexplicable joy. Joy is my word of 2018. I've been finding it, searching for it, being given it in so many ways this year! But Jesus has always been a constant source of Joy. He gives us joy for each day, each week, and each year. My students think of me as "happy" and I hope that continues. I hope to sprinkle some Joy on them each day.

While I can't talk about Jesus with my students or teach them about Jesus, I can only hope these tiny seeds of Jesus-like qualities will stick with them, will be planted and nourished, and will grow into something bigger and greater than I can ever imagine.

I don't like being scared when I go to school. I don't like the overwhelming feelings of hearing the fire alarm bell go off for a fire drill.

But just like the good and regular school days, even on those scary days, Jesus is there. He's in my room. He's in my heart. and He's right there holding me, guiding me, and loving me through.

I felt called to be a teacher, I still feel called to be a teacher. I know that God gave me a heart for children for a purpose. I will show them Jesus as best I can in my actions, my words, and my love for them.

Happy SUNDAY, teacher friends. May your day, your week, and your school year be filled with coffee, the grace of Jesus, His unending love, and a bucket of patience as you learn with, love on, and teacher your little friends.

February 8, 2018

Simple Valentine's!

It's coming down to the wire - Valentine's day is in less than a week! It's really weird for me to not have my Valentine's done yet, but I have put them off. I was tired of buying things and loads of candy and writing each name and filling out tiny cards.

... I know that Kindergarten students (and teachers, *cough, cough*)LOVE any reason to party...

...but I'll be honest...the parties often take a hit on my bank account! As much as our school gives us money to put towards consumables, those random items pop up and we can spend a lot of money on our classroom and our students!

I have created a simple product as a great (low maintenance) Valentine's treat for you to give your students!

All you need are some sandwich baggies, oreos, a stapler, and this printable! I'm excited to pass these out to my students at our Valentine's party!

I already had all of these items except the oreos - so I spent $2 on over twenty valentine's for my students this year. I even had paper and a color printer!

This printable is a label that you can place over the edge of the baggie, it'll fold right over (after you put the oreos in) and you can staple it closed. It also has an option for personalized with students names OR simply calling each student Valentine. No matter what option you choose, you will be able to personalize your name - so it can always say it's from you!

I'm really excited of this - and really proud of it! I'm so happy to be able to offer it to my other teacher friends as well!!

Happy Valentin-ing and celebrating! It seems that's what we've been doing in Kindergarten these days :)

You can follow my steps below to Valentine Success!

1. Print out the pages :) I chose the editable personalized option for each student!
 2. Cut out the square on each page! Make sure to keep the two rectangles on each page connected. If you cut them apart, you can't use them on a sandwich baggie!
3. This is what your cut out tag should look like!

 4. Fold the tags on the line!
 5. Stuff a sandwich bag full of oreos! I chose to use six because it filled my bag perfectly. You can always choose more or less!
 6. Put the sealing end of the sandwich baggie into the fold of the Oreo tag. Staple two times at the top!
7. Finished product!

You can find my product at my TPT store!

February 7, 2018

Communication Folders - WOOHOO!

Hi y'all! I am BURSTING at the seams to type this blog post because the excitement level in my kitchen right now is LEVEL 30.

Maybe it's the third cup of coffee running through my veins right now, maybe it's the bad weather no school day we got unexpectedly this morning, or maybe....

wait for it.


Okay, sorry. I'll rein it in a little. :)

After what feels like months (and actually was over a year) I have finally figured out this TPT product stuff, but I'm learning something new every day. I wanted to make sure I thoroughly knew what I was doing before I just jumped in.

The past year (since January 2017) I have spent a lot of late nights reading blogs, examining products and TPT sellers, scouring pinterest - just trying to figure this thing out. There are a lot of legal aspects too, so I wanted to make sure I got it right! I plan on creating stuff that I will use in my own classroom!

My first ever product is the cover to my daily communication folders! It comes with an editable feature so you can type in each kid's name and school information! Personally, this will help lost folders be returned rapidly.  I just appreciate daily folders because it helps communication with my parents. As kids come in each morning, they drop their folder off with my assistant. She pulls any important information out and we organize it, do what we need to do with it, and within minutes we have handled any/all notes and paperwork!

I also have some friends that like to unpack their backpacks on the bus or at after-school programs (#workinprogress) HOWEVER these folders are quickly returned to me because my name, my classroom, and my school is listed on them and people aren't searching for which teacher has which kid. It also helps when there are lots of "Tom"s and "Ashley"s, because I've specified who their teacher is on their folder.

I'm just so excited to get to share this with others! I have a freebie version of this product with only green editable folders OR I have a paid version of this product with ALL rainbow colors available!

I hope you all enjoy!

February 3, 2018

My 40 Hour Work Week as a Teacher

I'm sure you've read the title and thought..."yeah, right!" or "Maybe for her, but not for me."

But I can promise you that my system has worked and continues to work, it has helped me remain sane, keep my joy for teaching, still enjoy life outside of my classroom, and most importantly enjoy life INSIDE my classroom.

I love teaching, with my entire being - but it doesn't need to consume me.

Before I even begin, I need to clarify a few things....

1. This 40 hour work week that I have established doesn't include the extra school events, the random projects I think of in my brain that I decide to attempt, OR the pinteresting.....

2. Are there weeks that I work over 40 hours in my classroom? Absolutely. It especially happens the month of September! BUT the 40 hours always happens when I do follow my system (that you'll read about below)

3. By confining my work week to only 40 hours doesn't mean I'm skimping on my teaching or instruction, rather, it's making better use of my time and allowing me to be more focused and clear on my teaching. I'm more prepared for each day - but that's for the rest of this post. :)

I have recently developed a huge passion for preserving the joy I have in teaching and maintaining self care . Left and right, all around me, teachers were burning out by years 4, 5, and 6, sometimes later, sometimes earlier. I could see it, they knew it. It was scary.

Would this be me soon? Is a teaching career only short term? I'm on year 4 right now, is it going to be this year when I lose my spark?

My college debt would later tell me that my teaching will have to be more of a long term thing. ;)

All kidding aside, those questions were valid. and real. and right in front of me.

I decided to establish and do whatever I could to preserve my joy, have self-care, and enjoy my career as a teacher. Teachers are asked to do a lot. We are one of the few professions that has to plan and prepare ahead for work...but when we go to work we are teaching students and we don't have much time to plan or prepare..... it's really a vicious cycle! I was going in hours early, staying hours late, and going in each day of the weekend to make my classroom run smoothly.

I decided that enough was enough! I missed my husband, I missed my friends, I wasn't cooking or doing much housework, I felt consistently stressed about getting stuff done, I created thousands of to-do lists, and I realized there wasn't a balance to my life... while teaching is an extremely large part of me, it's not my entirety. I enjoy decorating and crafting and talking and coffee and shopping and pinterest and many, many other things that bring me joy and are ways for my brain to be turned off for a while. When I was working crazy hours, I wasn't soaking up any of those things! Those things bring me a reprieve from the day to day world and they bring joy! Without those extras that I love, I was very fuss.

By establishing this, I am able to be prepared, ready, and focused for my students each morning, more intentional in my instruction, and more detailed in my planning. I feel like I can properly go into each day!

okay, okay, okay. Are y'all ready for my random plan that I came up with that works so well it's not even funny?! Are you ready to arrive 30 minutes before school starts and leave EXACTLY when you can?! Are you ready to enjoy your time at home, attempt to keep your house clean, and to have time to socialize? Are you ready to care for your self?

I wasn't able to just implement my system all at once and magically stay at school for only 40 hours each week! It took time and I had to add pieces of my system in slowwwllllyyyy before it became a natural fit.

The first thing I did started during my first year of teaching....

  • I made a planning period schedule. Each day I have a planning period and I found that if I didn't have a purpose for my planning period, I often used it as a reprieve and could be found making random copies, talking to other teachers in the hallway, or putzing (spelling?!) around my classroom.
I pasted this pretty little diddy to my teacher table and there is no going back! 

Every Monday, my planning period is a lot shorter - and it's Monday, so I take that time to literally BREATHE. Grab some water. Put some things away from the Monday rush. Reset my room. 

Every Tuesday, I grab the units I will be teaching next week and I pull up any pinterest projects or pins that I found that I want to try this year and I get to work making all copies and materials. (I know this sounds backwards but I like to pull everything out and copy it before I plug it in my plans)

Every Wednesday, my Kindergarten team has team planning where we swap more ideas, go over school wide schedules and details, and figure out anything else we might have to figure out!

Every Thursday, I plug all of my materials into my lesson plans, I create my reading plans for my small group table and my assistant's small group table. I print those puppies out, hole punch them, and they go straight into my lesson plan binder!

Every Friday, I type up my newsletter during my planning period and put it in student's mailboxes to send home that day. I also reset my independent literacy centers. 
 I have 4 reading rotations and typically in a normal week, 5 literacy centers to reset. I make the centers to flexible so I can move groups and kids as needed, depending on differentiation!
This small focus for my planning period has helped me ease planning of Kindergarten! It's been a great system!
  • I organize my weekly materials by the day. 

As soon as I'm finished plugging my plans in, my copies and materials go straight into these daily drawers. This includes everything for that whole day - my read alouds, my content units, my writing warm-ups and morning work, my math plans! Everything! I have my whole week ready at a drawer's notice! This has helped me feel extremely prepared. 

  • I copy materials that are month-long. 
This may sound a little crazy, but some of my classroom work items are monthly-themed. For example, I have writing warm-ups that we do each day, but they are themed by the month. January writing warm-ups, February writing warm-ups, etc. On Jan 31, I copy everything for February. I have them at a moment's notice and it's one less thing to worry about copying each week. I pull 5 off the pile each week and place one in each daily drawer! 

  • I established an Early AM Routine
I only arrive to school 30 to 40 minutes early, depending on how my morning has gone, hahaha! I created a routine to help me be prepared as much as possible and minimize any extra time!
1. Feed Donashello
2. Move Trash cans back inside the classroom
3. Set up lunch choices for the day!
4. Pull drawer materials out for the day, set out Writing Warm-Up and Morning Work
5. Check emails, CHECK EMAILS, check EMAILS
6. Send any parent messages/notes/info as needed

^^ people make fun, because I usually never have more than 4 emails in my inbox. I organize them all by folders if I need to save them for later. It's important to me that I stay on top of communication as needed! And I HATE having a full inbox. 

This all can be done in 30 minutes and I am beyond prepared to simply focus on my kiddos during the whole day! 

  • Resetting the classroom
  • Classroom cleaning schedule
These next two sortttaaa go hand in hand, so I am going to talk about them together. I do not stay after school to reset my classroom or clean my classroom. I have really instilled in my Kindergarteners that.....

this classroom is our space. 

So, we all take care of it together all day long! I have student jobs...

The students reset the room together each day, typically as we go through the day. The calendar is reset for the next day, the items and materials. This took a lot of intentional conversation and a lot of time in September and October. By November, they've nailed it and do a great job of keeping our classroom space always ready!

My class jobs encompass a lot of the other things I might have to do during the day, but because it is a student job, I don't have too! For example, I have two trash helpers who move the trash cans outside the room. I have a Chart Monitor to hands out stickers to those who earned them for their sticker chart. I have a paper passer, teacher's assistant, and so much more. I find that classroom jobs that help the students maintain the classroom have instilled much more appreciation and value in my students for their classroom space.

At the end of each day, there is one student who passes out wipes. My Clean Up Crew (class jobs) starts picking up the floors and everyone else wipes down tables, chairs, toys, tools, and puts all of our seating off the floor for the janitorial staff to vacuum. Within 3 minutes, our classroom is clean and ready, we grab our backpacks and head to the buses!

I feel the need to repeat... This took a lot of intentional conversation and a lot of time in September and October.

  • Self-stuffed Folders
I created mailboxes for my students in late December. My assistant and I were spending half the morning putting important papers into folders, trying to find who had a folder and who didn't. When we'd get a paper, we would have to sort through a stack of folders to find the right one...It was just taking more time! I'm all about saving time! 

So I created mailboxes. I took some leftover space in my paper sorter, put their names on binder clips, and created mailboxes. 

Sorry the picture is so blurry - do you just love my "pile" on top?! haha Real life teacher stuff right there. 

Anyway, now when we get papers, I just file them in their mailboxes. When the students are done with their work, they put them in their mailbox. No more crumbled papers in backpacks! No more crazy papers on the floor! 

ALSO - I have a folder passer who passes out folders at the end of the day. 


YES^^ it's true. You read that correctly! I have streamlined this situation, the students are responsible, independent, and LOVE it. Seriously.

When my students are completing their classroom jobs, what am I doing? I'm connecting. I'm dealing with the crying or hurt student. I'm celebrating with a student who wants to show me more of the work in their journal. Because I have slowly given independence to my sweet friends, they are able to take care of their logistical needs in order to get packed up or to go to another center, and I am able to continue to build solid relationships with them! 

I'm sharing this with you because it's helped me. It's helped me immensely. Maybe not all of this sounds like something you would want to do, and that's okay. Maybe it just wouldn't work out with your group of kiddos this year, and that's okay too. I just HAD to share because I know that the joy and life can get sucked out of teaching so easily. 

While my system might not be your system or the one that would work best for you, my system has allowed me to remain joyful. Intentional. Connected. In constant relationship. with my students. 

Find what works for you! Do what you need to do to make your classroom work and run!  But dear teacher friend, don't lose sight of who you are and what you love. 

January 20, 2018

How to Move Classrooms and Remain Sane

This is my 4th year teacher and ironically my fourth classroom!! My first year of teaching, I taught H.S. Spanish (long story) in my husband's hometown in Pennsylvania. My second year, we moved to Virginia where I got my job teaching Kindergarten. Even though I stayed at the same school, I got moved to a new classroom my 3rd year. And for my fourth year, I got a Kindergarten job in the same town that we bought our home in (yay for 4 minute commutes!).

I plan to stay at this school - but that doesn't mean I won't ever have to move classrooms inside of it!

Because of all of my frequent moves, I came up with a grand plan on how to move classrooms and keep my sanity. husband would tell you that my "keep my sanity" part of my plan has never worked! Haha! I think there is always some stress to moving no matter what.


I have found great ways to pack so unpacking is easy. I have found great ways to label so moving in is a breeze. I have created systems that set you up for success!

So here we go!

1. The first thing you need to do BEFORE YOU EVER EVEN PACK A BOX is completely organize your classroom. I'm naturally OCD so this comes extremely easy to me, however, if you aren't, I suggest you take it a shelf, cupboard, or space at a time. When my classroom starts to get messy, I take one space each day and fix it up so by the end of the week, it's back to normal!

2. I have EVERYTHING stored in containers. Everything has a place or a container that holds it or a binder that binds it or get the point. You can see in this pic of me and my lovely parents (who saved the day for me this school year!) That behind us are my storage shelves that hold essentially EVERYTHING. In my old classroom, I had all those plastic file containers in cupboards behind closed doors. My new classroom lacks some storage so we got creative! I love it!

These storage bins have been a life saver. I have every unit labeled (sometimes bins can share two smaller units) and I slowly bought them over the past two years so it wouldn't be a huge expense out of my pocket. It has come in handy when I'm ready to plan with my team (just grab the bin!) or when a teammate borrows something (just grab the bin!) or when they have a question and want to know some ideas (just grab the bin!) or when I'm trying to get it, just grab the bin! It has also helped me keep my classroom less cluttered with papers or activities we are done with!

You can buy the storage containers that I use here on Amazon! I highly recommend them - they fit file folders perfectly and large gallon ziploc baggies for any activities!


3. Now that you have everything organized, cleaned up, and in a container of some sort - this is where the packing comes in! I usually start getting boxes from the cafeteria ladies and the janitors, as soon as I know I'm moving! I pack up by sections of my room because chances are - no matter the layout of my next room - I'm going to probably want things in general proximity to the things that are near them now! I pack up corners and sections and then leave about 5 boxes labeled "Random". These are for the things like stickers (that I leave in different places around my room), pencils, pens, random stuff that I find after I'm done packing, any unfinished (GASP!) projects or papers I'm working on, etc. Those random boxes are a bear to unpack....A BEAR. But I feel like they must exist.

4. Next is moving and storing it! Luckily, when you move classrooms within schools it's no big deal to move boxes! Typically the janitorial staff will help you out and you can walk into your new room and your boxes have magically appeared there. But when you change schools or districts, you aren't so lucky. Thankfully, I had a garage and a jeep. Every morning, I would get to school early and load up boxes (We have to be out the last day of school - so I had to pack/clean up and teach and insanity) into the Jeep, every afternoon I would take a Jeep load home and unload it into my garage. Praise Jesus for that garage! We would've needed a storage unit!

(My husband had one request when I asked if my classroom could live in the garage..."As long as I can get to the lawnmower." WHAT A TROOPER!)

5. Finally, you've made it to your new space! DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT start unpacking before you've cleaned up your new space. Chances are...your new space probably has some (or a TON of) left over stuff from the prior teacher in it. Or some furniture. Or the Janitors came in to deep clean and the furniture is in a pile similar to Mt. Kilimanjaro. OR all of the above. ^^^ 

Speaking from experience, I may have jumped the gun one year and tried to unpack and clean and move furniture and sort through the old teacher's stuff  and decorate all at the same time and I may have cried a lot and been extremely upset and decided that unpacking was stupid and did I really even want to be a teacher and what was I doing with my life and unpacking and setting up my classroom took me 8 weeks for no reason.


Here's my advice. Take time just to be in your new classroom space. Give it an opportunity to sink in. Put yourself in a teaching perspective. I always ask myself, where's the door? Where can I seat myself so I can always see the door? How do I want it to flow from there? Where/how do I need access to my teaching materials?

FULL HONESTY: Even teachers who aren't moving are spending a ton of time in their classroom before school starts getting everything ready, setting up, and decorating. By following these simple things, you can make moving and unpacking a breeze so you can focus on other stuff - like decorating and preparing for the first day!

Alright teacher friends, I hope you aren't moving now - it's January! But I hope if you have too or if you are considering, you will use my tips to help you out!

P.S. Another way that I LOVE to store any manipulatives is using these! The clear containers are perfectly square and an easy visual for my students!

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