Organized Charm

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Tips for Student Teaching

I recently received an email from a super sweet teaching student, who just happens to attend the same school I went to! She is starting her student teaching this Fall and looking for tips! 

Any tips for those of us going into Junior semester 2 that will start student teaching in the fall?

Well... of course I have advice for that! Here it is :) 

Have a Good Relationship with Your Mentor Teacher
First of all, keep in mind that you may or may not have a great relationship with your mentor teacher. It's kind of a tricky situation from both sides. You're coming into a classroom that he/she has probably worked in for years. Your mentor teacher has a preferred style of teaching, disciplining, routines/systems, classroom management, parent communication, etc. You'll have your own ideas about classroom management, the kinds of lessons you want to do etc. 

Listen to your mentor teacher, watch what they do (especially when it comes to classroom management). You'll learn so much more from him/her than you do in class! But keep in mind that it's probably been a while since he/she was in college. You'll have new, fresh, innovative ideas based on the most current research, so you're a valuable resource to your mentor teacher, too! It's all about balance, respect, communication, and having a good relationship :)

Focus on Classroom Management
Speaking of classroom management, that will probably be your biggest challenge, especially if you're student teaching in a public school. It can be hard. You will probably cry a few times, and that's ok! I would definitely, DEFINITELY recommend this website: Smart Classroom Management. Just go to it and read as many posts as you can! Also, pick up the book Teach Like a Champion, and start with the chapters on classroom management. I'm about to start my 8th year of teaching, and I still read/reread it frequently! 

Also, this post may help you once you're in the trenches of the semester: Encouragement for First Year Teachers

Balance Your Time
Organized Charm is a great resource for you (and I'm not just saying that!), particularly the "Studying" section. I wrote it while I was in grad school and student teaching or teaching full time. Every system that I used was designed to keep me on the right track between my education, professional life, and personal life. I wrote every post based on what worked for me so that others could benefit from my trial and error! 

from @mrshenryinfirst
Become Part of the Instagram Teacher Community
Now that I'm out of school, I'm focusing my attention on sharing routines/systems, etc. that have helped me stay organized in the classroom! I will be adding more to the "Teaching" section of OC! I also started a teaching Instagram @organizedcharm, if you want to check out those things! :) 

Take Risks and Have Fun!
Most importantly, this is your time to figure out what you like/don't like. What works/doesn't work in the classroom. Get to know your students. Enjoy every minute! December will be here before you know it and you'll miss those kids like crazy when you finish your semester! 

Do you have any advice for student teachers? Or do you have advice for anyone preparing to have a student teacher in his/her classroom? Add your advice in the comments below! 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

How to Create a Flexible Color-Coded Planning System

Im wondering how you handle changes within your color coded system.  For example if the professor pushed an assignment back or classes were canceled due to inclement weather. 

Great question! I get so annoyed when dates change, but then I remember “oh yeah, this is why I have a planner in the first place”. 

If the thought of writing every assignment/appointment/engagement in boring pencil in your planner gives you the heebie-jeebies, don’t worry! There are other (prettier) options!

Welcome to the wonderful world of flexible planning!

So, "flexible planning" has kind of become my thing over the past few years. I LOVE planning ahead. LOVE. IT. I love color-coding and timelines. I love being prepared and not having things sneak up on me. But... life, y'all. 

Life is full of surprises and things are always changing. Events get postponed. New things pop up. 

And since our planners are a reflection of our lives, shouldn't they be able to mirror those changes? 

Of course they should! 

So, what's my #1 secret weapon for creating a flexible planning system? 


Post-It’s have come a long way since Michele first invented them. Check out the amount of space in your planner’s monthly and weekly boxes. Then take a stroll down the office supply aisle of any store (or Amazon) to find some colorful sticky notes that will fit! 

These are the Post-It Tabs I use for the outside of my Teacher Planner. They're 3" (75mm).

My favorites are the Post-It Tabs. 
They were originally intended to keep on the edge of pages of books, but I have found that they’re the perfect way to keep my color-coded planning system neat and flexible (no more crossing things out)! I just flip them sideways and write on the colored and clear parts. 

Here are the different sizes I use in my Planner: 

I have found that these are the perfect size for the columns in the Plum Paper Planner! I have the ME Weekly Layout, and this kind of Post-It fills an entire section within a day. If you want multiple Post-It’s, try these:

These are a good alternative to the Tabs because they give you more room to write above/below, or have multiple flags in a particular section of your planner.

In school, I might suggest using the Tabs for bigger assignments, and the flags for smaller assignments… but just find the system that works best for you!

Here is what I like best about these two types of Post-Its:
-They are durable, so they’re easy to write on
-You can remove/replace them over and over again, and they still stick
-They’re easy to write on 
(I use a Black Tombow ABT N15, but Sharpie pens work well, too!)

Here are examples of how I use them:

In my teacher planner, I use Post-It Tabs for lesson ideas. Then I can easily move them if plans change.
(Side Note: First rule of teaching? Plans always change.)
In my personal planner, I use Sharpie Highlighters set-in-stone events, and Post-It Tabs for things that can be flexible.

Other Options:
Another option that I’m not quite as crazy about (but is more cost effective) are the Post-It Page Markers. The colors are pretty and you get way more for your money… but they aren’t as durable and won’t restick as easily. If you move it more than once, you'll probably have to rewrite it. So, I guess it’s good that you get more in a pack!

Using Post-Its has worked so well for me, that I haven’t really tried another system. Although, I have heard really great things about the Pilot Frixon Erasable Pens. If you've tried those, please chime in and let us know what you thought! 

If you’ve tried another system for flexible planning and color coding, please share it below! 

We’d love to know some other options! :) 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

How to Organize Your Class Binders

Reader Question: "What are your suggestions to keep organize for my college binder such as labels on dividers, notes, and assignments? I prefer to use binder instead of the folder. I like to bring everything in the class." -Amanda

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of opting for class folders over binders. But what if a folder just isn’t practical for your class? Or what if you get really annoyed by the bent up corners and you just can’t take it anymore? 

If you’re the kind of person who prefers to use binders, this post is for you!

1 | Label your binders for quick access
This may seem really obvious, but you’d be surprised how much of a difference it makes! Make sure to clearly label your binder on the front cover as well as the spine. This way, whether you have them standing in a locker or tossed in the backseat of your car, you can quickly grab the right one! 

2 | Follow the same format in each binder
Make up a consistent system and use it in each binder. What I mean by this is, plan the “layout” of your binders and use the same format in each one. Here’s an example:

-Front Pocket: Upcoming Assignments
-Back Pocket: Graded Assignments
-Back Cover: Class Grad Sheet

Pull out the 3 things you’ll need/use the most over the semester and put them in these easy-to-access locations! In the photo below, I used the first page of my binder as an "actionable steps" list. Just use whatever you need and whatever works best for you! 

3 | Get a sheet protector
I love sheet protectors! I recommend using one as your very first page in the binder. I would put a semester assignment spreadsheet for the class in there, just to make sure you’re always on track! You could also use wet/dry erase markers to write on them, like below!

4 | Don’t be afraid to rework your syllabus
What I don’t like about syllabi is that each professor uses a different format. I like to take the syllabus, get rid of all of the university guidelines, and re-type the important parts, like assignment due dates and class meeting dates. This keeps is clean and concise. 

5 | Use tabs
The amount of tabbed notebook dividers I find all over my house is ridiculous. I usually just get the ones that have 5 dividers, but you can use more or less depending on your needs! Here are the categories I usually use:

Class Information- Hole punch and save the original syllabus
Handouts- Any handouts your professor gives you, newest on top
Notes- Neatly rewritten notes from class, newest on top
Graded Assignments- Papers/tests that have been graded & returned, newest on top
Blank Paper- If you’re not bringing a separate notebook, bring blank notebook paper :) 

Binders are a great way to stay organized throughout the semester! They are a little bulkier and a little more awkward to deal with in class (all that snapping!), but if that doesn’t bother you, then bind away! :) 

How do you organize your class binders or folders?!

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