At home I’m extremely organized. Everything has a place, and I do my best to make sure it all stays where it should. I pride myself on keeping a neat, clean home. I can’t stand clutter, and I never leave “junk” lying around. The only problem areas are my closets, and even those get some TLC every so often.
But my classroom at school? Not so much. Not to give you the wrong impression – my desk is fairly organized, and I start off each day with clean tables and countertops. But then students, teenagers no less(!!!), come storming through the door, and suddenly, my nice neat space is taken over by people who give less thought to neatness than Sofi does. Seriously, have you looked under a teenager’s bed? On second thought, save yourself. It’s gross, for so many reasons, I’m sure.
So this year, I’m making more of a concerted effort to do what I can to keep things orderly. I’m hoping that when the kids see how I’m trying, they’ll follow suit. Modeling at its finest.
First, I bought two great lunch bags made by Sachi that help me bring everything I need for lunch (and if I’m running late, breakfast, too). These totes came as part of a two-part set that I found on Kitchen Wine and Home. I love using the larger tote bags for picnics, food far ballgames, farmers market shopping, etc.
You might ask why I need two lunch bags, and the rational answer would be that using just one might make it get too worn out too quickly. While that’s true, my real reason is so that I can better match whatever I’m wearing that day. (It’s a sickness, I know). The thing is, I have a mini fridge at school in my closet, so I only really use this insulated back to bring the food to school and then to carry it from the fridge to my desk (or wherever I eat). Which brings up a good point – this year I’m really trying to get out of my classroom at lunch so that I can “commune” with my colleagues. Otherwise, I can get too much in my own head, if you know what I mean.
I’m really excited about this next one. While I teach some pretty amazing students, I also work at a school with teenagers, some of whom are apt to steal. Especially if a teacher is dumb enough to leave her purse out lying around in plain sight. So I would avoid the problem altogether by only bringing my wallet, and stowing that in my trunk. The problem with that was that I like carrying a purse, and it would never fail that after school I’d find myself somewhere where I needed to bring my keys, wallet, iPhone, etc., and shoving everything in pockets (if I even had pockets with that outfit) wasn’t a good look, because it made everything bulky. So, I decided to get a bit more civilized and use my “Kleenex closet” to it’s full potential by purchasing this cool hanger system from Target for less than $10.
A teacher’s keys are the stuff of legends. We’re getting emails constantly about teachers’ keys found in the bathroom, lounge, etc. I myself have locked my room with the keys inside a number of times (thank God for the substitute keys in the office). Some teachers put their keys on a lanyard and wear them around their necks, but the lanyard I have is really bulky and ugly, and just doesn’t work well with the professional look I’m trying to project with my outfits. So I decided to turn to Etsy and see what those home artisans might have for me. Etsy didn’t disappoint! I found two lanyards at LanyardLand that will take me through all of my outfits. I bought one for days when black is the main coordinating color and another one that goes more with browns and earth tones. I love them both, and can’t wait till they arrive.
I love the lampwork beads and the other details. These lanyards are more like jewelry than anything else, which means that I’ll happily wear my keys. If you know a female teacher, I highly recommend giving her a lanyard like this, because she’ll definitely appreciate its functionality as well as the fashion it brings.
I decided that part of having a good experience inside the classroom started with the way that it smells as you walk into it. As I mentioned, I teach teens, some of whom could use another lesson or two in basic hygiene. So to keep my room from smelling like the Boys’ Locker Room, I invest in Glade Plugins scented oils, and believe me, it’s money WELL spent. I love the Clean Linen scent, because it’s not cloying, but I also bought the Autumn Harvest to use as October/November gets underway. I’ve already had quite a few students (male and female) comment on how lovely the room smells. I really do think that a nice scent in the air sets a tone of a pleasant place to be.
I bring a Naglene water bottle with my everyday so that I can get in at least 32 oz of water, but some days I go through that quickly, and I’m left with drinking water straight from the tap (yuck) or buying bottled water (that adds up, plus the plastic is wasteful). So, I went to Target and found this Bobble water filtration pitcher. Isn’t it a cute shape? It was only $20, which was perfect for the classroom. (BTW, when did Britas get to be so expensive? $40 for a water filter pitcher? I’ve had the one that sits in my fridge at home a LONG time, apparently, because I was shocked at the prices). I want to encourage my students to bring in reusable bottles, so having the pitcher out where they can see it makes that easier.
These are just a few things to get me started. I’d love to hear other ideas from those of you who are teachers/know teachers/have high school-age kids. What keeps a high school classroom running efficiently is much different than what works in an elementary room, but I do think that my K-8 compadres could help me get some great ideas.