Friday, April 22, 2011

Classroom Organization Tips

Today at Kelly's Korner, we are showing our organizational tips.  My house is anything but organized right now (Spring Break/Spring Clean 2011 starts TODAY), so I decided to show off some of my organizational tips for the classroom instead.  My first two years of teaching I was on a little portable cart, so I had to learn early on how to keep my junk together.  Today, I can honestly say that my classroom is as relaxing and neat as any other "space" in my life (at least most of the time).  I'm proud of that.

I'm just going to sort this into a couple of categories.  I realize these won't apply to every teacher (I teach high school English); but since it seems like a lot of teachers follow my blog, I'm hoping it will at least be interesting and a little relevant.  If it isn't... Well, I'm sorry in advance!

So...
1. Classroom Supplies

I keep all of my classroom supplies in labeled containers on a large table at the front of my classroom.  I snagged this table a couple of years ago at the beginning of the school year from a teacher who was getting rid of it.  Best.decision.ever.  Students always know where they can find materials, and there is never an excuse for not doing an assignment because you didn't come to class prepared.  Plus, I copy all of my hand-outs etc. a week in advance and use this table to keep everything stapled, hole-punched, and ready to be distributed as needed.  (I do this on Friday so I can walk in Monday ready to go.)


2. Lesson Plans

I use a very basic lesson plan template with the unit title and days of the week across the top.  Then, for each day, I list the state standard and the assignment, activities, and homework.  Although I occasionally have to revise this mid-week, for the most part, I stick to it.  Not only do I post these weekly lesson plans Monday morning on the internet (Blackboard), but I also keep them posted in the front of the room at all times.  This bulletin board is a popular hang-out spot for students as they enter the room.


I also organize binders for each class for each nine weeks.  Inside the binder, I keep my lesson plans as well as all the hand-outs, notes, quizzes, tests, power point slides, etc. that go along with each mini-unit (which is separated by a tab).  At the front of the binder, I keep a checklist with the primary objectives for each nine weeks so that I can be sure to pace myself and stay on track.  (I'm really hoping that this system will come in handy when I am out on maternity leave at the beginning of next school year.)

3. Make-Up Work

I keep this cute little Target accordion file in the front of the room.  If a student is absent when I hand-out any type of assignment, I simply put his/her name on the top of it and file it behind the correct class period.  I also have a spot on my attendance record where I write in any work that needs to be made-up.  I check both of these places every period of every day to make sure work gets made up.  It works like a charm!

4. Missing Work

Let's be honest.  Kids miss assignments.  Not because they are absent, but because they just don't care.  (Or, perhaps 1% of them actually has a good excuse.)  A colleague showed me this idea during student teaching and it has become one of my "most shared" concepts.  THE YELLOW SHEET.


On a due date, if a student does not have his/her assignment, he/she must fill out one of these yellow sheets and turn it in in place of said assignment.  I call this the "walk of shame" to retrieve the yellow sheet.  It asks for basic information like the assignment title, due date, and student signature.  I keep this in my stack of papers and, as students turn in their late work, use it to record the actual date the assignment is turned in and the number of points deducted.  (Our school policy is 10% per day.)  Then, I detach the bottom portion of the sheet to staple to their assignment and keep the top portion for my records.  If the assignment never comes in, a zero is recorded in the grade book and the yellow sheet gets filed. These work GREAT on parent teacher conference day and help to keep me fair.

The Yellow Sheet concept has become quite popular, so I've posted a JPEG image that can be opened and printed (below) as well as a PDF version here.



A few little details that don't really fit into a category:

- If you can, buy one of these filing totes.  (Mine is from Target a few years ago.)  I keep all of my papers-to-be-graded in here sorted by class.  Haven't lost a paper to date even during the inevitable transport from my couch/bed to my classroom.  (Knock on wood.)


- I keep a to-do pile on my desk and try to clear it by the end of each day (or, at the least, week).  I also keep e-mails marked as "unread" in my inbox until I have responded to them or handled them appropriately.  I usually do this as close to when I receive it as possible so the list doesn't pile up. And, I use my Lily Pulitzer planner like a champ both at work & for my personal life!  Don't know what I'd do without it!


- Finally, I straighten my classroom every.single.day before I leave.  When I come in in the mornings (which, let's be honest, is usually late) the room looks as good as new, and everything is ready to go for the day.  Here are some pictures of my classroom yesterday.  (You can compare them to my beginning of the school year pictures here.  Really, not too much difference.)


Hopefully this was helpful for some of you!  If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to email me!!

95 comments:

  1. Found you from SUYL- I LOVE that filing tote! I'm going to have to be on the look out for that. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. www.thirtyone.com we have a bag called the Organizing Utility Tote. You can purchase that and it helps keep the organization under control. There are many colors and it has 5 outside pockets as well.... I am a consultant, but if you go to the website it an put you in-touch with the closest consultant OR you can order it on-line under the catalog area ;)

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  2. Wow! Thanks for these tips! I am in process of getting my masters in elementary and special education and will be in my own classroom hopefully (!) in 2 years! I am an organization freak and these tips are great! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Tamar

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  3. Okay, I'm inspired to get more organized. My classroom is comfy, but it's definitely organized chaos in some ways. I think I'll come in a few extra days at the end of the school year (which is fast approaching for us - last day with students is May 27th!) and do a few good things. :) Thanks for sharing!

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  4. The yellow sheet is genius! I know I'm a huge dork to get excited about something so simple, but I'm a first year high school social studies teacher and I love that idea. I will definitely be including it in my classroom next year!

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  5. I found your blog on Kelly's SUYL and I love the yellow sheet and the file folder box for make-up work. I teach elementary so I'm thinking days of the week instead of class periods but I love it!

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  6. What an awesome classroom! You are so organized, I love it! :) Erin

    www.healthybranscoms.com

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  7. Love your room and will for sure be using a few of your ideas in my classroom in the future. I am going to have to check out that planner, I am really wanting a new one!

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  8. Hi, I'm visiting from a Hop! You have some great ideas! Have a great Easter! Would love for you to visit my blog and follow back!

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  9. I sent you an email today asking for some of your printables. It is under tammie_oliver@yahoo.com. Please let me know if you get it. I love your ideas.

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  10. CUTE CLASSROOM! I used to teach third grade, and my room was never this sweet!

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  11. Love your classroom! I am a high school Reading teacher and can see how these ideas will be helpful this coming year. In fact, I have some Staples coupons I'm using tomorrow to get some of these organizers. :)

    I'd love a copy of the 'yellow sheet' if you don't mind. This is a fabulous idea! Also what are on the signs on the back wall??? Thank you so much

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  12. Would you be willing to post a PDF of your 'yellow sheet'? I would love to adopt this in my own system.

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  13. Thanks so much for this! I love the yellow sheet - what a great idea! I am a mobile teacher with an overhead cart (see here ... http://ispeakmath.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/this-is-how-i-roll/ ). I have a lot of stuff on it, but it isn't that organized.
    Since you use to float, you have any tips for me on organizing a cart? I'm not very good at it. SOS! : )

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    1. yes i will be sure to post a yellow sheet and if you would maybe give me your emails i would attach it~also, just make one on word
      hope that helps!
      Hana Foster

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  14. Hello! I teach high school English and I, too, was wondering if you could post a PDF or a larger picture of the YELLOW SHEET. Our school is trying a new procedue with late work and a homework lunch and I think this will be great to show others. Thanks!

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  15. Ummmm...I am a school nurse. Wonderful ideas. Love all your organizational skills and ideas. I do have one itsy bitsy concern....not sure if you ever have issues with lice, but I saw the couch in the back. Lice would love to crawl off a head and burrow in the fabric of that couch and then crawl onto another student. Just a reminder!

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  16. Thank you so much for posting organization for a high school classroom - especially English! I find that there are great tips for elementary, but not for high school. I love the simplicity and structure in what you do.

    Were you able to do the 9-weeks planning when you first started teaching?

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  17. Thanks so much for posting these tips. I'm a new high school English teacher and would love to have a few of your organization documents! Could you please send me a copy of your Yellow Sheet and lesson plan template? Once again, thanks for the tips!
    sdcarson21@gmail.com

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  18. I too, would love a few of your tools. Could you send me your Yellow Sheet and lesson plan template? ccnelson@dcsdk12.org. Thanks a heap!

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  19. LOVE the yellow sheet idea. I'll have to remember this when I get back in the classroom. The mardi gras type masks on your bulletin board, which lesson did these go along with? I would love to add this to my version of the lesson. :)

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  20. LOVE your organization tips. I would also like a copy of your Yellow Sheet and lesson plan template, if you don't mind. hconkle@lcknights.com THANKS!

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  21. Thank you for the ideas. I especially love your "yellow sheet." May I please have a copy? You can e-mail me at suprsweethrt@bak.rr.com. Thanks!

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  22. Could you email me a yellow sheet template? I am a new math teacher transitioning from special Ed to regular Ed and love your ideas! Paige.gordon@gmail.com

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  23. Found your blog through Pinterest. Would you be willing to post your lesson plan template? I've been teaching HS English for five years and still don't have one I love. :)

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  24. It was so nice to see a blog post about a high school classroom! Everything I find is always elementary! I found you on Pinterest and after looking around your blog I see that you're from Roanoke-- which is where I was born and raised! I love the Star City and miss it so much!

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  25. I would also like a copy of the Yellow Sheet! Love this idea ;) srodriguez0206@gmail.com

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  26. You have some great ideas! Would you mind emailing me your yellow sheet? I would love to use it in my classroom! kayla_black@gwinnett.k12.ga.us

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  27. The yellow sheet is a GENIUS idea; thank you for sharing.

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  28. E~These tips ar FABULOUS! Also, as someone above has already pointed out, the yellow sheet is absolute GENIUS!! I'm changing schools this fall, going from 8th grade English to English I. I'm going to start out the right way in my new home by implementing some of your tips. Thanks for posting!

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  29. Is there a link to the "Yellow Sheet" I love your idea, but can not read what is printed on it.

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  30. Hi! I am going to be a first year high school English Teacher. Love the Yellow Sheet Idea for late work! Did you post a pdf somewhere or would you be willing to email it to me? My email is Kaye.Weber@wolves.northern.edu. Thanks so much for the great ideas!

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  31. I absolutely LOVE all of your ideas! I am a new teacher as wekk starting this fall and am currently trying to plan for my new classroom. I know it is going to be a hectic year so I am doing everything in my power to stay organized. Would it be possible to send me a copy of your Yellow Sheet? It is such a great idea! Thank you!

    Julie

    juliegabriel9@gmail.com

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  32. Great tips! Could you please send me a copy of your Yellow Sheet? Thanks! temperain25@gmail.com

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  33. I like the idea of the yellow sheet. Wanted to ask-what do you do if a kid doesn't fill it out? (too embarrassed or just doesn't care to...maybe forgets??)

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  34. You have a lot of great ideas and are obviously very organized! I'm joining in with all the others and asking for a pdf of that yellow sheet! Thanks for all of your tips! annoula21@hotmail.com

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  35. I totally disagree with number 3. "Walk of shame" and "just don't care" are very strong statements, especially coming from someone who don't know NOTHING about their students home life or the child, although you may think you do. While, I think the idea of having the child do a paper like that and keeping it for documentation is a good idea, I am disgusted that you call it such and that you come right out and state that just because they didn't turn in an assignment they don't care. I come from a family that consists fully of school employees (principals, superabundant, instructional supervisors, special education teachers, school psychologists, etc) and I would be outraged if they ever made statements such as yours. I am utterly disgusted. Teachers are there to educate and empower the child. Give them hope. I hope that a child with a parent with some "balls" mentions this and talks to the principal.

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    1. @ Matt Berry... Get over yourself. Work on your grammar instead of wasting time tearing a teacher apart. @ blogger, thanks for the yellow sheet idea. I might use this in my classroom.

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  36. I am embarrassed that you even had number 3. The idea of the sheet is good, but stating that "they dont care" and calling it the "walk of shame" is horrid. I hope some parents with "balls" complain about this.

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    1. @Matt Berry
      OBVIOUSLY, you have never taught in a classroom. If you had, you'd know that what she says IS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH! The majority of kids today DO NOT CARE ABOUT ANYTHING BUT EARNING A GRADE! And parents are on the same bandwagon. And if they can get away with doing LESS and still getting what they want (which is an "A", and that's all the bottom line IS) then they WILL and DO!

      Learning is NOT important -- and responsiblity even LESS so. The student for whom this is NOT true has become the exception to the rule, not the norm as it was when I, myself, was a student. I've been in the classroom for 15 years and each year it is worse. And whether you like it or not, whether you think it's "appropriate" or not, there's not much else that gets their attention like a little discomfort. Same is true for us, as adults. We do a LOT of things that we might not otherwise choose to do in an attempt to avoid embarrassment.

      Don't misunderstand. I love my kids. And more importantly, my kids (on the whole) love me (as a teacher) right back. But you can BET that they understand that ANY misbehavior or disgregard of their own responsibilities will be "called like I see 'em". We're supposed to be preparing them for the "real world" and that's about as real as I can make it.

      By insulating them from all disappointment, discomfort, doubt, and ANY inkling of an idea whatsover that they're not 100% the most fabulous thing in the entire world, that they have ALL possiblitities at their fingertips JUST BECAUSE THEY WANT THEM (not because they've earned them), we're creating a society of ill-equipped, spoiled, conceited, self-important, lazy people. And THIS is who will shortly run the world?!?

      The fact that you WANT someone "with balls" to complain about this to an administrator tells me that you, yourself, are probably a product of the "touchy-feely Dr. Spock revolution" that has become the bane of our society!

      And one last thing.. Do you think teachers go into this profession with the hope of humiliating or beating down kids? Oh yeah. THAT'S it! THAT'S why we suffer low wages, heavy work loads, and the ignorant masses. Most of us are working our ASSES off for NO thanks -- and even worse -- outright derision and unfair criticism.

      Kudos to a teacher who "has the balls", as you so very eloquently put it, to do something that will actually TEACH kids to become more responsible. God knows that parents aren't going to do it!

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  37. Great tips, Elizabeth. I'm in training to get my credential, and I will certainly implement many of your ideas into my classroom.

    And contrary to the previous comment about your yellow sheet for missing assignments, I think it's a great idea, and I think I'll use that idea as well.

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  38. I would love a copy of the yellow sheet. Taniuskabarbosa@yahoo.com

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  39. Whether or not I agree with the "wall of shame" part, I think the idea of the yellow paper is great for you to keep on time and late assignments in order. Also, many of your ideas are great and I look forward to implementing them in a future classroom! Love the couch as well! I love positive reading environments!!!

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  40. would love a copy of the yellow sheet...great idea! lynda@xmovement.net Thanks!

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  41. You have some great ideas!

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  42. Love your ideas!! I too teach high school English, I haven't found too many blogs that help. Yours sure did. Thank you

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  43. I would love a copy of the Yellow Sheet. Great ideas!!
    megan.boudreaux@jdpsbk12.org

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  44. This is a very interesting article. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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  45. Can i please have a copy of your yellow paper? Thank you jgetz2365@gmail.com

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  46. I would love a copy of the Yellow Sheet. Great ideas!! kkimball@lakeland272.org

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  47. I would love a copy of the yellow sheet. Conniephillips98@yahoo.com Thanks

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  48. This is a very interesting article. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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  49. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this post. Thanks a lot for sharing here..I hope you will come up with more and more similar articles..

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  50. Thank you for your post and for sharing ~ great ideas! I am also very interested in a copy of the yellow sheet. epolmy9@hotmail.com. THANK YOU!!

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  51. Love your room and will for sure be using a few of your ideas in my classroom in the future. I am going to have to check out that planner, I am really wanting a new one!

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  52. I would love to have the yellow sheet!!! Great idea! My email is jlc@tri-valley.k12.pa.us

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  53. Interesting take on some real classroom challenges! If you're willing, please email me a copy of your yellow sheet and lesson plan to cd9805@gmail.com. Thanks!

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  54. Will you email me your lesson plan template and yellow sheet? kindall.e.jones@gmail.com

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  55. Could I also get a copy of the yellow sheet and lesson plan page - i'm finally getting my own room and I think these would be great!

    jmrbc9900@aol.com

    Thanks!

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  56. I would love a copy of your yellow sheet! Awesome tips..I will definitely be using these! alexandra.ringhofer09@gmail.com

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  57. I would love to have the yellow sheet!!! Great idea! My email zay.coel@gmail.com

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  58. Hello!

    I love the yellow sheet idea. Would love a copy of it. If you can send it to me at ilecara_roux@yahoo.com

    I would appreciate it! Keep up the awesome ideas and tips on teaching kids to be responsible.

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  59. Hi! Can you email me a copy of your yellow sheet?
    Esergovich@schools.nyc.gov

    Thanks!! :)

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  60. I absolutely LOVE all of your ideas! I am a new teacher as wekk starting this fall and am currently trying to plan for my new classroom. I know it is going to be a hectic year so I am doing everything in my power to stay organized. Would it be possible to send me a copy of your Yellow Sheet? It is such a great idea! Thank you!

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  61. Love the yellow sheet idea. Can i get a copy of it? ryan.braquet@gmail.com. thanks!

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  62. Thank u for sharing this is so helpful!

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  63. Not sure if you are still checking these comments...but I would like to know what the sheet on the clipboard is - from your picture of the absence folder.

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  64. Is there any way you could email me a copy of the "yellow sheet" form for missing assignments?

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  65. Yay congrats on your classroom! I LOVE it - you did great!!

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  66. Hi all,
    Here is another version of the "yellow sheet" for all of you that are interested.

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/156908330/oops-i-forgot-my-homework-digital

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  67. Hi! Two questions:

    1. What's on the clipboard (the one in front of the missed work file). I like your idea of doing it by student by class period. I'm tempted to assign students partners and if their partner is sick or absent, THEY are responsible for asking for an extra set of copies and putting them there in the missing work file.

    2. What's in the green "make up" binder on your cart? I feel you about the cart. My LIFE was on that for a year! Hard to give up. Yours is such a cute color though...

    Thanks!

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  68. I work at an Alternative Learning Center and this is my first year starting (I worked there middle-end of last year). I totally agree with organizing the room before I leave because it makes me feel so much more relaxed come morning time. However, all of the other tips I desperately needed and provided ideas I HAVEN'T heard before- kudos! I'm printing this blog post and getting to work! If i could copy and paste thank you 100 times a would, but to save time, here you have it once in capitals: THANK YOU!!!!

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  69. Excellent room; I am glad you are well and Dolores is distracted.

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  70. Love the Yellow Sheet idea! I was wondering, though, if you would mind sending me a copy via email. I'm having trouble with the print being too light from the PDF version here that it's really hard to read after printing it out. I would appreciate it very much. My email address is: tracey.stepp@knott.kyschools.us. Thanks!

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  71. Thank you so much for the Yellow Sheet! I am excited to see how this works out for my students this year!

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  72. Wow! Thanks for these tips! I am in process of getting my masters in elementary and special education.
    but I would like to know what the sheet on the clipboard

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  73. Could I also get a copy of the yellow sheet and lesson plan page - i'm finally getting my own room and I think these would be great!

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  74. Love your yellow sheet. Quick question: what font is that? I love it. Thanks!

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  75. Thank you so much for the Yellow Sheet! I am excited to see how this works out for my students this year!

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  76. Hopefully this was helpful for some of me!

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  77. Wow! Thanks for these tips! I am in process of getting my masters in elementary and special education. thanks

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  78. Thanks for tips of class room organization, very interest

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  79. Where did you get that CUTE notepad?!?!? I love it!

    rebeccatyndall@bellsouth.net

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Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!


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