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Every teacher has their own way of organizing their schedules, environments, and inventories. There is no right way to organize, but being organized can certainly benefit you as a teacher. Experienced teachers know that being organized, physically and mentally, is critical for impactful teaching. It takes discipline and effort to be organized, so VIPKid asked their teachers about how organization plays a part in their classrooms and if they have any organizational tips for novice teachers. Check out some of the teacher responses below for tips!
“I have a box of all of my props, notepads, reward systems and other go-to set and ready to go for each class. I set each item on my desk and have it within reach. I have a home for each item so I can grab without having to look down and receive a dreaded 1-apple feedback for “impatience.” You know how you work best – you do you, but it is important to be prepared. If you’re new to a level or to VIPKid, look through as many lessons as you can to see the different recurring themes or characters. Base your props or even reward systems off of the similarities to engage and tie it all together.” -Corrie Lundberg
“KISS ~ Keep It Simple Silly ~ Don’t try to have a new/different prop for every slide, but choose props that can be used throughout the lesson for multiple slides. Know where everything is so you don’t have to go searching. Everything for me is in arm’s length. I don’t have to wonder where it is. When I’m done using it ~ it goes right back to where I got it, so I know where to get it the next time.” -Shelley Moon
“Using neodymium magnets means I can stack rewards based on categories. Everything is categorized and I put everything back where it belongs at the end of each class. If things are organized, it doesn’t take long to clean up!” -Jessie
“For me, organization means having space to breathe. A cluttered space affects my ability to think mindfully. Lots of small, stackable storage bins to my left and right, off-camera, help me keep my immediate working space more clear. For any new teacher, I would suggest taking two minutes at the end of each teaching day to pick up your space from the days lessons.” -Kristen Brown
“Don’t waste money on TOO many props. It becomes overwhelming VERY quickly. I always adjust my reward systems based on the ages of my students. Props are great, but sometimes, just picking up a banana from the kitchen or getting a baseball cap from the toy room works. I also recommend having a few must-haves for props: alphabet flashcards, a puppet, Meg and Mike printouts, a microphone, and something silly like giant sunglasses or something to put on your head.” -Randi
“First, is the background. I have a simple background consisting of a magnetic whiteboard with my name, a VIPKid logo that I printed out and laminated, and the Northeast US map to show students where I live (NY), flashcards randomly placed, and other fun stuff printed from the internet.
Second, I keep it simple regarding props, so I have them all in a shoebox that I pull out right before class. I also have a small whiteboard and some rocks for the “rock” unit. My tip for new teachers is to keep it simple at first and adjust/expand as you gain experience and know what you want/need to enhance your classes.” -Timothy Hawk
“There are some basic things that a teacher can do to organize their schedules and classrooms. 1) Make sure you’re getting enough rest and exercise. 2) Set two alarms for early classes. 3). Review the material beforehand, even if you’ve taught the class 100 times. 4) Make sure your rewards and props are ready. 5) Know what your schedule is.” -Casey Richard Ochs
“Find a system that works for you. I had to try several methods of organizing classes before I found one that worked well. I write out the outline of the class on an index card and keep them organized by level/subsection/class, and write the date/time/student on the back. As I get more of these organized I can then pull them for future lessons. I use these for feedback at the end of my classes.” -Jen B
“Make sure you have looked over your classes to make sure you understand all the material you have to teach. There is nothing worse than being stumped in the middle of class in front of a student.” -Brian Costantini
“Efficient fun. The classroom seems to evolve as you enter it and create it. What may work this week always has the potential to change next week as I evolve. I try to create resources that I can use again in the following weeks, but I also have to remind myself to be patient while I create my system because not everything will be used next week. Everything I do, though, really helps me evolve!” -Tina Rodriguez
“Always have your props in the same places around you, like you’re in a cockpit! You will then be able to reach and get things by feel, without looking.” -Mollie Moore
“I am probably guilty of being the most disorganized VIPKID teacher when it comes to physical props. However, having taught over 2,000 Level 2-6 classes (plus supplementary courses and trials) in the past year, I know the curriculum very well and I am very organized when it comes to knowing what props I will need for a lesson. There’s always something on my desk or off to the side that I can pull out to demonstrate what I need for the lesson. My suggestion for new teachers is to gradually add props to your arsenal and realize that there are a lot of things that you are going to be using over and over again. Some basics: microphone, cat, dog, boy, girl, shark, fish, eagle, elephant.” -Danielle KXJ
“Magnetize everything! It makes it so much easier to grab it off the magnetized whiteboard and put it back, rather than digging through bins when you need to find something quickly.” -Amy Cohen
“Organization is essential to running a smooth class. If I am fumbling around for props, then that is time that I am not focusing on my students. My best advice for new teachers is to organize props in a way that makes sense to you and not to be afraid to play around with different systems. It took me some time to find a way to organize my props that made sense to me.” -Rose
“I think often times when we think of organization we only think of ‘organization with classroom materials’, but for me, organization means organizing my work calendar and my home life calendar. I want to line up the two so that they compliment each other. If I give too much time to one or the other I miss out on great opportunities. I have had many different alterations for weekly teaching schedules. Sometimes I teach full time, part-time, or only occasionally. These teaching schedules have been changed or re-organized according to the seasons and life events that I have had. I think it’s important to remember to pick what organized teaching schedule works best for you! What works for one teacher may not work for you. Remember the mantra ”works for them, not for me!” Do your best and LOVE those students!” -Alex Barnard
As you can see, there are many different ways to approach organization and it’s a great feeling when you find what works best for you. Thank you to all the VIPKid teachers that submitted your organizational tips!