Departmentalized Classroom Organization
Is your grade level departmentalized for instruction? I’ve been blessed in that 3 out of my 5 years of teaching, I was departmentalized, teaching only math and science. Personally, I’m a huge fan of departmentalization! However, organizing your classroom to prepare for having different classes in and out all day long can present a challenge. Figuring out departmentalized classroom organization can be hard – so today, I’m sharing my best tips with you to help streamline you routines.
Tip #1: Color Code Everything
My first tip for departmentalized classroom organization is to color code everything! Assign each class a color, and use bins, labels, folders, etc. that correspond with those colors. This way important papers and materials don’t get mixed up between classes.
I only taught two sections of math & science at my school, so I only used 2 colors: blue and green. My homeroom class – 2B – used the color blue, and my other class – 2A – used the color green.
In this picture you’ll see that I have 3 sets of bins, and each set includes a blue bin and a green bin. One set of bins was for students to turn in papers, one stored their daily folders, and one held their pencil bags. Color-coding was helpful so that students could more easily find their own materials and return them to the right place.
Likewise, I also used these colors for my own personal records. I kept important documents for my homeroom class in a blue folder, and for my other class in a green folder.
Tip #2: Assign Student Numbers
When you have multiple classes sharing a classroom, it can become complicated to label shared materials or spaces with student names. Instead, I recommend assigning each student a number and using those numbers for your labels instead.
For example, at my school we were required to use a clip chart as part of our classroom management. Each student had their own clip; however, if I made an individual one with each student’s name, I would have over 40 clips! Instead, I had 22 clips each labeled with a number (our classes capped at 22).
The clips were shared between classes. At the end of my time with each class, the clips were all moved back to the “Ready to Learn” position so that they were ready to go for my next class. (Typically, this was done by my student “Clip Changer,” which was one of my student jobs.)
You can also use numbers to label student cubbies, desks, or textbooks if shared between classes.
Tip #3: Set Alarms
Time management can be a huge challenge for departmentalized teachers! When you’re self-contained, it’s a lot easier to spend a little more time on one thing for a day and cut from another area as needed. But when you’re departmentalized, you only get a certain amount of time with each class. You want to keep all your classes on track. Plus, you don’t want to take time away from other teachers by running late!
To help stay on track, set an alarm on your phone for a few minute before it’s time to switch classes. By setting it 5-10 minutes early, you have time to wrap up what you’re doing and get your students ready to go.
Tip #4: Separate Graded Papers
My final tip for departmentalized classroom organization is to have a system for keeping your graded papers separate. As I grade, I like to put papers in alphabetical order so that I can easily transfer grades into my gradebook. This also helps me to easily file these papers into my student mailbox.
Once you’ve graded, make sure you keep them separated by class. This way, you don’t have to dig through tons of papers to find the ones you need for each class. I always stored my graded papers in a file box, like this one. When it’s time to return papers, all the papers for each student are already together.
This system works really well, but for a departmentalized class, I recommend having a separate file box (or whatever you use) for each class. This will reduce paper clutter in your classroom, and help keep all those important papers from getting mixed up.
I hope these tips are helpful to you as you get your classroom organized for this school year! For more classroom organization tips, click here.
Are you departmentalized? Share your best tips in the comments!
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