I wrote this blog back in 2009 when I was in my fourth year of teaching and without a classroom. I had spent the previous 18 months traipsing between multiple classrooms – including one transition that required 6 sets of stairs at changeover (no time between lessons).
For those teachers who do not have their own classroom, moving materials from place to place can become the bain of your life. Forgetting a particular item can send a well-planned lesson into calamity. Remembering scissors, sellotape, marker pens is difficult when you are trying to re-set a classroom and make a dash across 4 corridors to your next room.
However, there are few things you can do to make your life easier.
1. Get a toolbox
These are reasonably priced and available in B&Q, Wickes and large Tesco stores. Toolboxes have separate containers on the top for easy access to items you use every lesson – e.g. marker pens, stickers, biros.
Inside there are compartments that lift out where you can keep more precious items – e.g. scissors, glue sticks, hole punch. Mine even houses a teddy bear, a squashy ball and a dictionary!
While students may tease at first, I’ve found that they are impressed by my organisation and it even inspires them to tidy up their own study bags.
2. Have a box file for each class
Teachers are often wedded to their planners, but having an A4 box file for each class means that you can put any materials for the lesson inside. It can also be used to house exercise books, folders, letters or any work that was left at the end of the class. By carrying it to the next lesson with that class you are immediately ‘back where you were’ at the end of the previous lesson.
3. Have student ‘hosts’
A colleague elected class ‘hosts’ whose job was to set the classroom up as she made her way to the room. These students pledged to get to the class early, make sure the room was neat and tidy and get everyone seated. For those who are particularly organised, my colleague would put a sheet with lesson objectives on the desk before lessons that morning. When she got to the class, one of the hosts would already have written the objectives onto the board! Only do this if you trust your students with board pens 🙂
4. ‘Where to find me?’ cards/notes
Without a classroom students will often struggle to find you if they need to ask you something. At the beginning of the year, I give students a letter which has my email address and ‘office hours’ on it. Before I had an office I used a friend’s classroom for a set time after school each week as the time to ‘easily find me’. If you can display this somewhere – in the classrooms you teach – this will mean that students can find you at crucial times.
An alternative that I used one summer term was to work in the school library after-school. In doing so I could carry on with work but students who needed me could find me. A bonus: staff often did not look there for me, so I could work uninterrupted!
Finally…make sure you look after the classroom and return it exactly as it was when you arrived. By doing so, the more-permanent teacher might return your polite requests for the occasional display board or a locked cupboard!