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5

Steps
To Becoming The Most Organized
Teacher In Your School

by Elaine Tan Comeau (Founder & CEO at Easy Daysies Ltd.)

Here are the 5 STEPS were


going to cover together in
this e-book!

One of the key foundations for being the


best teacher you can be is organization.
This sentiment holds true for new teachers
just starting out or veteran teachers
wanting to turn over a new leaf.

PART I Me, Myself, & I - Personal Reflection & Action

Being a highly
effective teacher
requires organization
skills - for yourself,
your students, and
your classroom.

STEP 1 You, Your Desk, and Your Space


(Files included)

STEP 2 Your Year, Your Day, Your Lessons


PART II Your Classroom Setting the Stage

STEP 3 Materials and Supplies


PART III Your Students Your Raison dtre

STEP 4 Your Students Responsibilities


STEP 5 Your Students Work

Conversely, a lack of organization can be


a big time waster for teachers who have
precious little time to waste. You may
have a stunning personality or be the most
creative instructor, but if you are unable to
find your students work or are becoming
stressed simply by keeping on top of your
job, please keep reading.

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Only a teacher (and perhaps your


understanding spouse) can fully
comprehend how hectic teaching can be.
It requires you to juggle lesson planning,
instruction, staff meetings, parent
meetings, team meetings, grading, and
working with students.
An organized teacher finds that by keeping
things in order and maintaining structure,
classroom management is easier, and
time is not wasted. In return, this allows
for more time spent on student learning
and a better overall sense of control in the
classroom. Organization does take extra
time in the beginning but is more than
worth it for both you and your students.
Within these 5 key steps you will find
simple a-ha ideas that will make your
teaching days much easier and stress
free. You can be known for being the
organized teacher, rather than the teacher
who is constantly scrambling to get their
act together. Great teachers are life long
learners, so get ready to learn and do!

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

PART I

Me, Myself & I Personal Reflection & Action

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

Step 1: You, Your Desk, and Your Space

Step 1

You, Your Desk, and Your Space (Files included)


You have heard the saying, A place for everything and everything in its place. Teachers
are often known as pack rats because we are great at seeing the use for something in the
future. Whether you are just starting out or in your 15th year of teaching, getting organized
is always a daunting task. However, sorting through each and every paper and thing-a-majig that you are going to file, store or toss out will be worth every moment of hard work.
Get ready to roll up your sleeves and put on some comfy clothes for this task!
Start by organizing one area at a time. If you have not used it in 2 years, toss it out! Be
ruthless. Believe me, this rule will need to be revisited often. If you cannot bear to throw it
away, create a box labeled free and put it on the staffroom table.

YOUR DESK
Let us begin with the heart of it all, your desk. Clear it off completely and lets start with a
clean slate.
Things you should you have on your desk:
1. Day Book
2. A table-top file system on your desk with colored files labeled:
To Do
To File
5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

Step 1: You, Your Desk, and Your Space

KEY ORGANIZATIONAL TIP


for your desk: Have a 5 or 6 tiered
file system with laminated folders
tucked in it labeled: Monday, Tuesday,
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and My
Class at a Glance. Having this system
was the best thing I ever did, not only
being organized for the day but for the
week. When I discover something I
know Ill need for another day, I simply
prepare it and stick it into that days
folder. It sounds simple but take note
that this will make a huge difference in
your time management for the year!

To Read
Lesson Plans
Back to School Forms
My Class
Substitute Info
Photocopy File (Consolidate your trips to the office or photocopier by going once with
everything in this file)

Files for regular daily or weekly worksheets like: Spelling (with weekly spelling word lists,
test sheets, etc) or Math Drills

3. Sticky Notes
4. Three Bins labeled: Hand In, Hand Out and To Be Finished
5. Clip Boards (hanging on a push pin board on the wall behind or beside your desk)
Class Lists
Monthly Calendar
Emergency/Fire Drill/Earthquake Drill Forms
Seating Chart
Staff Weekly Notices

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

Step 1: You, Your Desk, and Your Space

YOUR FILE CABINET


In your file cabinet, keep a log of phone calls to your classroom parents. Make a template
with:
name
phone number
date and time of the call/meeting
reason for communication
results
Keep photocopies of this template in the front of your Student Profile binder so you will
have quick access to it and can file it behind the tab with the students name on it. How
handy is that? All in one book and no need to write on scrap paper and transfer information.

MANAGING YOUR FILES


I suggest having a folder for common subjects within a main theme and assign a colour for
each theme, curriculum strand, or subject area. For example, make all Language Arts folders blue and have individual folders labeled with more specific subcategories like: Grammar Rules, Spelling Words, Oral Language, Reading and Viewing, Book Reports, Writing
and Representing, etc. Different subjects will be contained within different colours. For
example all Mathematics related materials would be red, Science would be green, etc. You
can even be so organized as to have your students duo-tangs and notebooks match your
colour schemes. This makes it easier and more efficient for your students to locate the
right book with ease when needed.

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

Step 1: You, Your Desk, and Your Space

I have discovered that as a teacher who moves around a lot, having a portable accordion
folder keeps me very organized. There are slots to order and locate everything that you
need for the day or week, right at your fingertips. Here are some suggestions for labeling
the tabs on this handy portable system:
Class Lists
To be Photocopied
Marking
Parent Communication
Staff Communication
Class Moneys and Notices
To Prep
To Do

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

Step 2: Your Year, Your Day, Your Lessons

Step 2

Your Year, Your Day, Your Lessons


It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you think that you are responsible for teaching an
entire curriculum to each one of your students. The best way to organize your thoughts
around this is to think from big picture to small picture. You can map it out on a large piece
of paper.
Create a four-column chart with titles across saying:

WHEN

WHAT

WHO

HOW

Jot down the months (September


- December, January - March,
May - June) and Term 1 or Term
2 or Term 3

Main Subject Title and then


specific concept or learning outcomes (e.g. Mathematics Measurement, Place Value)

Here you will list who will be your


support team. Will you be team
teaching or platooning? Will there
be a guest speaker? Resource
Teacher? Librarian Support?

List the materials and resources


that you will be using to support
the what, and anything else that
would enhance the students
learning, such as field trips, guest
speakers and films.

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

Step 2: Your Year, Your Day, Your Lessons

You will find that once you have created this, you will come back to it like a guideline for
the year and it will keep you on track like a compass!
When preparing for the next day, pull out all the material you will need for the next days
lessons. Photocopy all that needs to be photocopied and place it in the file labeled by the
day it is going to be used. Think through all that you will need, including art supplies and
resources and have them on hand.
Remember, you dont need to reinvent the wheel. You are not the first teacher to have
ever taught a certain topic. Google it, share and trade ideas from other teachers at school,
head to a local educational store for great ideas (like Scholars Choice!), and dont forget to
use your school districts resource center.

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

10

PART II

Your Classroom Setting the Stage

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

Step 3: Materials and Supplies

11

Step 3

Materials and Supplies


If a student is unable to locate supplies or find the right workbook, time spent looking for it
is time wasted. You are their teacher and their wasted time is your time misspent.
Have a shelving unit in a central location where notebooks, duo-tangs and class textbooks
will be stored. Colour code all the duo-tangs and note books so students can see that all
green duo-tangs are Science, blue duo-tangs are Language Arts, red duo-tangs are Math,
etc. Label the shelf that the duo-tangs sit on so that students will always know where to
return them once they have been collected.
None of these books need to be in their desks. With emptier and cleaner desks there is
less fidgeting, better concentration during instruction time, and less time wasted with
students being unable to locate books and supplies. You will notice that books will be kept
better and last longer as students will not be jamming them into packed desks.

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

12

PART III

Your Students Your Raison dtre

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

Step 4: Your Students Responsibilities

13

Step 4

Your Students Responsibilities


There are
certain tasks
that your
students can
do just as well
as you.

Assigning daily jobs to your students allows them to learn responsibility and have
ownership in the classroom. We want our students to learn to respect themselves, their
belongings, their friends, their teacher and their classroom.
Have a Class Job Chart with library card pockets and label the jobs with two pockets beside each job. Having two per job allows for teamwork and makes sure that the job is done
even if one is absent that day. Class jobs can include: Class Library, Attendance, Work
Collectors, Hand Out Helpers, Clean Up Crew, etc. You can be as creative as you would
like. I have often used a community theme in my classroom and we role-played.
Once, I was the Mayor and the jobs were as follows:
Mail Carriers collected and handed out work
Horticulturalists watered our plants
Media Technicians helped with setting up media equipment
Police Officers made sure chairs were pushed in and all were working quietly when
needed
Librarians kept our class library in order

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

Step 4: Your Students Responsibilities

KEY ORGANIZATIONAL TIP


for your students is a Visual Daily
Schedule showing the shape of the
day. This visual routine needs to
placed at the front of the classroom
and be large enough to be visible for
all the students. A visual daily routine
helps kids to feel safe, be more organized, responsible and independent.
Most importantly, it reduces anxiety.
Your visual routine just needs to state
the plan of the day, using words and
pictures so that students who cannot

14

Environmentalists made sure lights were turned off when we left the room and recycling was done
Store Managers would sell school supplies to someone who needed to replace their
items
Bankers handed out monthly class money to students, etc.
I keep all classroom supplies such as glue sticks, pencils, scissors, etc. in small, clear
labeled bins. You can give a dollar value to each item so that students have to learn
the responsibility of keeping their supplies properly and learn math skills by having to
purchase new items when needed with class money. Have students keep only two
pencils, one eraser, one glue stick, one ruler, one pen or black thin-line marker in their
desks.

read can still confidently understand


their day. Seeing a visual daily routine
will allow students to have smoother
event transitions, which will make your
day run more efficiently. It is amazing how a visual routine can help you
move 25 grade ones from their class
to the library and to the gym without
a single tantrum or meltdown all because the students were able to see
and predict what is going to happen
next. This will save the teacher from
having meltdowns and tantrums too.
:) [Editors Note: Elaine is the founder of
an award winning teaching product that
helps with this task called Easy Daysies.]

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

Step 5: Your Students Work

15

Step 5

Your Students Work


You can number your students according to the class roster and have a student helper file
work away each day as needed, this is faster than having to look up names in alphabetical
order. When work is collected in numerical order it makes it more efficient for marking and
recording marks down the class roster as well.
Remember that not every piece of work has to be graded. Make priorities on what will be
graded. For example, marking a daily journal can be tedious and painful. You can tell your
students that you will choose two random days for marking, keeping them on their toes
and keeping you moving forward. Once the class is running smoothly and students are
familiar with your expectations, they can help mark class work together as well. Spelling
tests are an easy and non-subjective test that can be marked by classmates.
When new work or assignments are handed out, put names of absent students on the
work and place them into the To Be Finished bin by your desk. This will prevent work
from being lost before the absent student even has a chance to get it.
To save time on repeating instructions over and over throughout the year, have directions
or expectations for tasks posted up on the wall like a poster. (ex: C.O.P.S. for reminding
students to check writing for: Capitals, Omitted Words, Punctuation, and Spelling).

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca

16

GET ORGANIZED, YOU CAN DO IT!


It is never too late or too soon to start getting organized. Just remember to start with one area at a time. If
you follow even one of these steps you will thank yourself all year long. Just remember that your students will
feel the difference of having an organized teacher versus the chaos we all hope to avoid.

About The Author


Elaine Tan Comeau is a mother of three young children,
a wife, an elementary school teacher, an award winning
entrepreneur, and CEO & Founder of Easy Daysies Ltd.
Elaine enjoys all things food, game night, appies with
friends, family movie nights, big belly laughs, finding
great bargains, black and white photography, and all
things organized.
As an elementary school teacher, Elaine created a
product line to help kids have easier days, hence the
name, Easy Daysies. Easy Daysies was inspired when
parents asked her to create a visual routine to help their
kids be more independent, co-operative and responsible
at home just like they were in her classroom. After eight
years of parent requests and making visual routines for
free, Elaine did the research and discovered there were
no products like this currently available. She decided to
create and market her product for the benefit of parents
everywhere.

5 Steps to Becoming the Most Organized Teacher in Your School by Elaine Tan Comeau

Elaine and her husband worked at packaging kit after kit


from their kitchen table but just could not keep up with
the demand of the orders. Encouraged by retailers, Elaine
and her family brought her products to Canadas most
popular investor show, CBCs Dragons Den. She and
her family incited a bidding war amongst all five investors
and she left securing the partnership of Kevin OLeary
and Jim Treliving.
Easy Daysies continues to win product and business
awards and is quickly becoming a household name.
It can be found in neighbourhood toy and educational
stores across Canada, including Chapters Indigo and
select Bed Bath & Beyond in the USA. Easy Daysies is
also recommended by child psychologists, occupational
therapists and educators.
Elaine is currently writing a series of eBooks in
partnership with Scholars Choice. To view and purchase
Elaines products at Scholars Choice, click here.

Scholars Choice | teachers.scholarschoice.ca