Sunday, February 21, 2016

Staying Organized in SPED { Tips for the Teacher }

Time to be honest. We deal with a lot of paperwork. Yep, I said it. I let our secret out. IEPs, FIEs, BIPs, progress monitoring, data collection on IEP goals and objectives... it all requires paperwork, and that's just on a slow day.

Let's be honest again. Our job can be difficult some days. Take out creating and differentiating the curriculum for our students. Take out the all of the meetings we attend. Take out the daily responsibilities that include duties and contracted teacher hours (we don't really know what those are anyway... it's more of a guideline). Take out actually teaching too. Now we can really talk. 
Behind our lesson plans, a loaded classroom library, and 5 minute lunch breaks, we spend hours upon hours organizing our classrooms. We do this, not only for ourselves, but for our students. They need the organization just as much as we do, especially when the day begins spiraling out of control at 8am after the morning announcements.

So I want to take you inside of my classroom to show you how I organize things.
It all started over summer when I found a teacher's Heaven... really... in the form of organized, color coded Heaven. In the middle of last school year, I decided to color code my classroom. Better late than never. But boy oh boy, did Lakeshore Learning ever turn into a classroom game changer for me.
I'm not sure what made it *click* in my mind, but once I went color-coded... well I have yet to go back actually. It was one of the biggest game changers in my classroom over the last year... if not the absolute biggest, most positive game changer.
 Each of my students has a colored bin inside of their desk.
Inside of this bin, students house their headphones, iPad tray, and possibly a chewy. Inside of their desk, each student also has a pencil box of icons for their specials schedule.

On top of their desk is the schedule and on the front board we flip a chart that tells the student what day it is. Every morning, students change out their special and tell us where they are going.
While I do not use these often, each of my students has their own absent work folder.
If a student is absent for more than one day, I will put important skill work they are missing inside of this folder for us to complete together when they come back.
Each of my students also has a shelf bin. Inside of this are their IEP Progress Monitoring Rings, a First Then board, sight word pockets, and other random supplies.
Not only do my students have their own color-coded desk boxes, shelf bins, work spaces, IEP goal boxes, and iPad backgrounds... I keep each student's progress data and information in a color-coded binder by my desk.

Not only does it help me visually (I mean, I can just grab a color and know it's the correct student), but having these binders readily available helps me with impromptu, and even scheduled, meetings with parents.
I wanted to show you a sneak peak inside of my [FREE] Parent Contact Binder too.
To create color-coded sections inside of my PCL, I simply laminated pieces of cardstock... which you can laminate construction paper too, it's just not as sturdy.
Every time I talk to a parent, I log the information inside of this binder - or at least I try to remember to. Mostly for parent phone calls and parent meetings (since there is a record of email and ARD meetings).

I know it seems super easy and like all you need to do is go buy colored bins... which is half the battle. On the other hand, you have to implement the use of them in your classroom and teach your students their color. I also have a specific name for each "bin," which students need to learn for following directions (i.e., "go put that in your bin" versus "go put that in your box").

How do organize "the mess" in your classroom?


  1. Love this! What are those white sticks in the student shelf bins?

    Years That Ask Questions

  2. Please tell more about your IEP progress monitoring rings. :)

    Thank you!

    1. Send me an email, I'd love to tell you more :) MrsDsCorner(at)outlook(dot)com

  3. Great info for me es first year teacher.

  4. I would love to hear about your progress monitoring rings as well. I teach middle school life skills..and also like to be crazy organized with colors. I don't have the space currently to be so organized but hopefully in years to come I will have more space.

    1. Hey Nicole, here is a link to my blog post about the Progress Rings: