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Organizing Your Classroom in a (Somewhat) Post-COVID World

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

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It is no understatement that during the last few years we have all learned amid uncertainty and fear that we have had to approach our lives with flexibility and adaptability. No one individual or profession has exemplified this more than all those unflappable teachers whom we rely upon for the education and care of our children.

And as we move toward a more familiar classroom setting, albeit with the addition of a few of those adaptations, it has become more evident than even before the pandemic that teachers are master organizers who can adjust their classrooms to embrace healthy protocols and provide an exceptional learning environment. Equipped with an array of desk calendars, daily planners, and other tools for keeping classrooms humming along, teachers are the nexus of creating a healthy, inclusive, inspirational space for our kids to learn and achieve.

Before the Beginning of the School Year

Your desk is the hub of all activity. How you organize this space will set the stage for a productive and hopefully healthy school year. While most of us have embraced the computer age with technology that keeps us organized and on time, paper still reigns as a tangible tool that should be used to complement our digital information. Desk calendars and appointment books are crucial for keeping track of very busy days. Many of us are visually motivated- just like children- so physically writing events can reinforce our daily tasks. No one wants to be infected with COVID-19 or any other virus, but should that happen to a teacher, substitutes can easily access information directly from your calendar and planner.

Academic planners, as well as desk and wall calendars, benefit both teachers and students. There is so much to learn during every school day and throughout every school year. The right academic planner combined with a desk calendar is the perfect one-two punch to ensure lessons are planned and executed effectively but also on time. We encounter a variety of daily distractions that can impede staying on the course but consistently using these tools will help everyone achieve their goals- teachers and students alike.

This classroom is at its only time of being a blank slate before the first day of school, so take advantage of this opportunity to declutter, plan, and organize. Furniture placement will be dependent on the use of individual desks and tables. Desks can be spaced more easily than tables and positioned throughout the room. Tables that usually seat up to four children can be a little trickier so reduce the number of kids at a table to less than four if you can. Of course, this will always have to be adjusted to the size of the incoming class.

After a classroom layout is in place hygiene should be the next priority in preparing your classroom. Establishing a handwashing station is critical for everyone, especially our littlest students who may not be too concerned or adept at staying clean. Provide plenty of accessible liquid soap and paper towels as well as a trash bin close by. Handwashing can be turned from a chore into a game by adding songs to the activity or counting games so all students can participate.

As you organize your supply bins and labels will be your best friends. Prioritize often-used items on lower shelves and things you use minimally on the higher shelves. Color-coding labels can also help you and the room remain organized- paper can have a blue label, writing instruments a red label, and glue sticks a yellow label, and so on. Knowing what is in each bin and where it is placed will reduce contact and minimize the spread of germs.

Create a mobile cleaning cart with supplies like hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues, and disinfectant wipes that can be wheeled around the room. Once the school year starts, allow students to decorate the cart with drawings about staying clean and healthy.

Compose a task list for your students so they can actively participate in keeping their classroom a healthy place. Specific chores can include refilling soap dispensers and paper towel holders, using disinfectant wipes to clean desks, chairs, door handles, and light switches, and handing out stickers to all who have completed their assignments.

After the School Year Begins

A global pandemic has been difficult for everyone to comprehend and particularly hard for little ones to process. Masks can look scary, and the worried faces of the grown-ups can add to their anxiety about something unseen. Therefore, creating an atmosphere letting all students know they are welcome and safe is conducive to a productive environment.

Ensure they understand the classroom rules about hygiene - and everything else. Laminated calendars and whiteboards are useful tools to write handwashing guidelines and other suggestions for keeping the room germ-free. It can be difficult but continually remind students to follow these rules because they are helpers that keep their friends and teachers healthy. Reward students for their good behavior with stickers, crayons, or any little fun item that will indicate a job well done.

A little reassurance goes a long way. Fill your classroom with positive messages. Let students know they are valued and that you have created a happy, healthy environment that makes learning fun. And learning can’t happen unless teachers and classrooms are organized and prepared with all the helpful tools and resources that create this exact environment.

Are you ready for the upcoming school year? Start organizing your classroom today with the right tools for exceptional teaching and learning.