Back to School Tips – 4

FlyLady in the Classroom and Homeschool

Tips for Teachers and Their Classrooms From Our Members

  1. Some great ideas!
    1. Teacher Flybabies need routines at school just like they do at home! Write your lesson plans in your planbook every Thursday for the coming week. You can leave manual pages, text pages, etc. blank, filling in specific pages as the day approaches. Know that you will teach a certain class at a certain time on each day, and then stick to the schedule. No more flying blind by whatever strikes your fancy. No more waking up and wondering what you will do today, or having no plans for a substitute when you wake up sick.
    2. Instead of using a storebought planbook, put your lesson plans for each day in a template on your word processor. Certain entries are repetitive — no need to write and rewrite this stuff by hand. Print them out, use a 3 hole punch, and keep in a three-ring notebook on your desk. Fill in page numbers and other instructions by hand as needed. If schedules change, it is easy to go in and change the template. If it is just a temporary schedule change for the day, use a Post-It. You teachers who have to make individual education plans for special needs students should put your objectives and goals on computer templates as well and then make adjustments by hand for each student. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to do these objectives and goals by hand; you most certainly do not!
    3. Before school starts (and during the year) do a 27 Fling Boogie on the stuff on and in your desk and in your file cabinets. For you elementary teachers, toss out 98% of those “cute” worksheets. Save good, well-thought out unit/lesson plans. Don’t forget your classroom HotSpots and five minute Room Rescues.
    4. Just as you lay out your clothes the night before at home, make sure everything you need for the next day is in order before you leave school. No more standing in line at the copier as the first bell rings, or finding that some A-V equipment doesn’t work in the middle of your lesson.
    5. Big and little kids have grubby hands. Keep a can or box of baby wipes on your desk and train the kids to use them when their hands get dirty. Every afternoon after dismissal take a bottle of spray, bucket of water and sponge and clean your desks and tables. It takes about 5 minutes. When the desks are kept clean, kids won’t scribble on them as much. Daily swishing/cleaning makes your room look and smell better and keeps down colds and runny noses.
  2. A few weeks ago my best friend and I divided my classroom into zones. That was step one. I needed to divide my large room into areas that I could easily imagine me keeping up with, in addition to grades, lesson plans, and the like.

    After this, the bookshelves that take up a whole wall were the zone for the day. This involved cleaning off the shelves, then sorting and reorganizing books. As I work with blind and visually impaired students, I must keep track of lots of regular print, large print, and Braille books which take up quite a bit of space. They had to be neatly organized for me as well as my students.

    I soon found I had lots of books and papers to fling, but it was too distracting. That will be for another day soon. I am no longer going to hold onto assignments and old textbooks I swore I would use. I feel better about not holding onto these things.
    Although my classroom still has a long way to go, I am excited with the progress we made that day. The shelves look fabulous. It will be much less stressful to return to a neat and organized room. What a way to start a new school year : )

    Thanks, FLYbaby in St Augustine

  3. Gifts for teachers often add to the clutter in their homes and classrooms. The best gifts are those that a teacher can use to make the job easier. As a teacher, I appreciated getting books for my classroom library and “shelf work.” Shelf work items are those mind teasing games that students can do on their own or with a partner when all of their work is done. These items are useful and greatly welcomed. If you want to get a “clutter free” gift for your child’s teacher–check into any hobbies or likes. As an example, some of my parents knew that I liked iced mochas–they got me gift certificates to a local coffee shop. Flying in Woodburn, OR
  4. As a teacher trying to keep things organized, I appreciate it when parents only send the school supplies that we request. Often we share supplies and I have a certain way that we organize the classroom. When students have supplies that others do not, it sets up jealousy issues, etc.
  5. Hi FlyCrew. I became a flybaby just as school ended (late May where I live). You may not believe this, but by early July I decided to apply for a new job DUE TO FLYLADY. (That is another story, however.)

    Then I had to move my entire classroom home. Ten year’s worth of stuff (purchased by me)had to be out of the building. I know teachers who have not changed jobs simply because they’d have to move all that stuff!!

    But thanks to flylady, when I got to my room I immediately divided it into zones. I forced myself to work in only one zone at a time. (before I would’ve run back and forth in a frazzled, sidetracked manner getting very little done.)I also timed myself: 15 minutes of sorting, tossing and packing, five-minute iced tea break, then 15 minutes of loading the freshly packed boxes into the car.

    It was unbelievable. I threw out FOUR industrial-sized trashcans filled to the brim with stuff (like sheets of cardboard that would make a “great” puppet theater someday!). Then I filled four regular classroom-sized trashcans. I left boxes worth of “too good to throw out” stuff for colleagues and took 3 boxes of “let’s play teacher” stuff to a friend’s daughter.

    The rest came home, where it fit in my storage shed. It was not an ordeal.

    Incidentally, I will still be teaching, but I am switching from the regular classroom to being a reading specialist, with a little office-sized room. I am not going to clutter it!

    I realized all that excess stuff was hoarding. Hoarding is based on fear. I had that “scarcity mentality.” What if I didn’t have enough stuff to do a good job?

    I was “Teacher of the Year” at my school! Now I plan to be “flyteacher.” Thanks!

  6. I teach kindergarten, but I have used this organizational method in other grade levels.

    I use milk carton crates that you can hang file separators in. I have one milk carton for each subject area. Each child have a number assigned to them (or you can just put their name on their file, but numbers make it easier to find) and they file THEIR OWN papers after each subject time.

    This makes it easier for me to check to make sure they have all their work done. Since it is kindergarten I go around and check it before they file it, but with older kids, I take work out of files and check it. On Fridays I just go from milk carton to milk carton to get each child’s work for the week, and send it home with a classroom note. Older kids could do this themselves.

    The number each child is assigned are also handy for dismissing at transitional times. Instead of having everyone run to the door I can say, “If your number is greater than 3, but less than 7″, or “if your number is 6+6 please line up”. Of course I still call children by their names. At first I thought assigning numbers was impersonal, but now I realize it has helped greatly with my organizing the classroom, and with the kid’s math skills!

  7. I am a college teacher. This year my teaching partner and I are going to focus on anti-procrastination with our students. We teach people who are going to be elementary school teachers, and they need to learn how to get things done ahead of time. We are teaching an arts course that has a lot of assignments and is 6 hours worth of classwork.

    Students will be given extra credit for turning in their assignments early. Further, every student will be REQUIRED to turn in at least one assignment early (they lose points if they fail to do so), so we don’t just get the BO’s racking up tons of extra credit. Finally, we are going to make Wednesday Anti-Procrastination day in our classroom the same way it is for Flylady. We will give students a few minutes to get started on their assignments on Wednesdays. We make reference to Flylady in the syllabus.

    Off to a Flying Start at Capital University…

  8. I have several ideas on how to FLY inside my classrooms. This will be my first school year flying! I also plan to get the students involved! Daily there are hot spot firedrills and a few 5 minute room rescues throughout the day! Also making these tasks “awards” for finished work or good behavior is always helpful. (for some reason, kids WANT to clean for the teacher, very unlike home where you cant get them to pick a thing up!). Once a week, (probably Friday) There will be a classroom blessing and a 27 fling boogie. A great way to wind down a Friday afternoon when all the test are taken and out of the way! AND it will make it a nice fresh room to start our Monday mornings in!
  9. When my kids were younger, I would go to wal-mart and buy thngs they would need throughout the year to help them with their school work such as paper, pencils, rulers, folders, poster board, 3×5 cards, etc. By having extra supplies here at home, there was NO excuse for not being able to do homework.

    I also memorized the phone number to our public library. At the reference desk, they can answer all kinds of homework questions and sometimes point you in the right direction for a needed web site!!

    Don’t stress out about the child’s grades, and let your child know that you are their #1 fan! Flybaby in Florida

  10. I haven’t been on the Flylady system very long, but I did attempt some things in the classroom during June that “went with” what I was trying at home -

    My desk was the “sink” of the classroom. If my desk was organized, it was amazing how much smoother things went. I hate to admit this, but I have been known to photocopy materials for a lesson and then “lose” them on my desk! This didn’t happen once I made a point of cleaning it off every night before I went home.

    I used the “hot spots” with the kids – they related well to the idea. I didn’t really establish routines – I discovered Flylady too late in the school year – but I can see how they would help. One of the most-needed routines would be that of training kids to put their materials where they belong – notes in the appropriate section of a ring binder, for example. It’s amazing how many kids genuinely do lose their homework assignments. One routine that I incorporated even before Flylady was that when I gave an assignment, it was written on a homework board ON THE DUE DATE. Each kid had an agenda book (like a daily planner for kids) and they had to write the assignment down ON THE DUE DATE in their agenda. This works much better than having them write it on the date the work was assigned – just like you wouldn’t write down an appointment on the day you phoned for the appointment, but on the date you were to show up for it.

    Zones in a classroom – in mine it wasn’t hard to distinguish five zones. I had a counter with a sink and a microwave because kids ate lunch in the classroom. Their lunch bags were stored on the shelves above this counter. That would be one zone. The “cubbyholes” (open shelves divided vertically as well as horizontally – each student had one for “stuff” that wouldn’t fit in his/her desk) would be another – maybe with the children’s desks as well. The coat area at the back of the room would be a third. The bookshelves with the classroom library would be a fourth, and my desk area, including the shelves with “teacher” materials, would be the fifth (and largest – like the kitchen!)

  11. I teach 1st and 2nd graders. This end-of-the-day routine helps keep things organized and tidy in our classroom.

    Every student has a classroom job. I change their job assignments at the beginning of each month so they get to do about 8 different jobs during the school year. At the end of the school day we take about 5 or 10 minutes to do jobs, and my students love it!

    Here are some of the job titles we use:

    • Library assistant (returns all library books in book crate)
    • Chalkboard helper (erases boards and claps the erasers outside)
    • Table washer
    • Easel helper (straightens items on the easel shelf)
    • Mail Carrier (I have 2 of these! One must to be able to read all of their classmates’ names! They put worksheets to go home into each student’s mailbox.)
    • Supply manager (organizes markers, makes sure glue bottle lids are on tight at the community supply table, etc.)
    • Desk inspector (checks student desks for cleanliness, makes a list of students who need to clean their desk)
    • Door holder
    • Overhead Projector manager (washes and dries overhead projector)
    • Schedule helper (prepares daily schedule on the board for next school day)
    • Lunch menu helper ( checks lunch menu for next school day and displays pictures of lunch choices)
    • Plant monitor
    • Scrap monsters (I have 2 of these! They crawl around on the floor and pick up all the scraps they can find!)
    • Reading Corner monitor (straightens books, arranges pillows in the Reading Corner)

    You can develop your own jobs that fit for your classroom!

    I don’t allow my students to leave until the room is clean, so they know to do their job quickly and thoroughly. When the dismissal bell rings, they will often help a classmate who hasn’t quite finished a job. They’re feeling a sense of responsibility and community in our classroom.

    This fall I think I’ll try using the timer method to have them clean their own desks. “Let’s see how clean you can get your desk in 4 minutes! Ready, set, GO!” I’m sure they’ll love the desk-cleaning game! – Thanks, An Iowa Flybaby who loves to teach

Tips For Homeschooling Families….

  1. Well-thought-out, efficient planning is the key to our success, I believe. So– I plan our homeschool day according to a schedule and I try to STICK TO THE SCHEDULE!

    The FlyLady Timer really helps a lot here. I know that the efficiency of their learning drops off after about 20 minutes (they are in early elementary grades), so the timer reminds me that even though there may be more material to cover, it would be more efficient to stop when the timer rings, take a break, and hit the material again later. (Hmm…. sounds like FlyLady’s advice to us FlyBabies, doesn’t it?)

    I schedule the most brain-consuming subjects (like math) first thing in the morning, so that we are sure to get them covered well. I schedule the on-going “fun” projects (like making historical costumes or other crafts) at the end of the day, so that they can work on them while I get ready for dinner.

    Alternating difficult, lengthy class periods (like math and grammar) with faster, easier material (like spelling and handwriting for my kids) makes the day easier for all of us. I can be up doing chores while they work independently, and then come back to the table to teach them their next lesson, then back to my chores again. (You can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes!)

    We use a separate spot (couch or bed) for reading assignments, which allows the reader uninterrupted quiet while I instruct the other child at the table. This child gets my full attention, and they have no distractions, with sister / brother in a different room. Makes the learning go much faster.

    We have a weekly schedule that we follow, too. Monday mornings we do the grocery shopping. Each child must help with finding the best values– they are learning a great deal of useful math during these times. Tuesday afternoons are “have a friend over” days. Wednesday morning is set aside for “field trips” to places that can help us learn our science / history topics of the week. Thursday afternoon is Math Pentathlon club with the neighborhood school kids. Friday afternoon we go to the library. Knowing what we do each day helps us plan and prepare our activities weeks in advance.

    The kids have their morning and evening routines posted on their bedroom doors. Each child is responsible for his or her own bedroom, and part of the kids’ bathroom. If they complete all their routine by the assigned time, they get a “star point”. They can earn extra stars by helping Mom with other chores in addition to their assigned ones. After they have earned enough stars, they can trade them in for rewards, like watching a video, going out for an ice cream cone, or playing a game with Mom or Dad.

    I also post a weekly menu, so that we don’t have to wonder “What’s for dinner?” at the end of a long school day. It helps me remember to thaw out tomorrow’s chicken, and I can make the grocery list in a couple of minutes by referring to the menu.

    I spend quite a bit of time in August preparing these daily, weekly, and monthly schedules and routines, but the payoff is incredible. There is so much less arguing about what we should be doing. The schedule is the “boss”, not Mom, so the kids have no one to argue with! (Guess they still haven’t figured out that Mom made the schedule!)

    Hope these ideas help someone else find a workable routine for their homeschool days.

  2. I have homeschooled for two years, going on number three. This year I will have one in second grade and one in first grade. I know that is not a long time compared to some others, but this tip is a “must do” for us.

    I have had to resort to using the trusty timer. I set a reasonable time for seatwork to be completed in. When time is up, time is up. My DD loves to waste time when she is working on something that is not a favorite subject. If I don’t set a time for her to be finished by, she will waste her whole day (and mine). This helps me to keep my sanity. Hope this helps.

  3. I teach Unit Studies. To help prepare for this challenge, I clear out a bookcase of everything. (My bookcase has five shelves. I label each shelf for the 5 subjects: Math, Science, Unit Studies, Grammar & Writing, Electives) Then I put each book that I have on hand on each shelf with its correct subject. I will then print up a calendar with each month having the main unit study topic printed on it. I place the reading books in order using my calendar. This year we are study early US History, The Salem Witch trials, Lewis and Clarke Expedition, Architecture, Pablo Picasso, and finally Pirates. Using an empty bookcase makes arranging my year a snap.
  4. Our favorite homeschool routine is a weekly thing, not a daily thing. Ds/8 has 3 things we do every day: reading, writing, and math. Monday through Thursday, we add another subject (for example, on Monday, we might do science–discuss it and do an experiment; Tuesday might be art, etc). On Friday, if ds has done his work all week long, he gets to pick what we do (as long as it contains reading, writing, and math!) For example, instead doing a worksheet on practicing his cursive, he might write a letter to a relative. For reading, he might read a kid’s magazine or a Goosebumps book. For math, his all time favorites are practicing addition by keeping score on any of our various games and baking (practicing measuring and doubling/halving recipes). By rotating subjects, we have longer chunks of time with which to work. And since he knows he gets some control on Friday’s work, he keeps a good attitude all week long.

    My favorite way to keep track of what we have been doing while homeschooling is to use a big desk blotter calendar. The one I have is totally undated (great, since it is really old!) I just fill in the dates each month and take a few minutes after school time to jot down what we did. Since the blocks are big, it is easy to write in a short description of the day’s work. For recurring workbooks, I just abbreviate the name and write in the page numbers. Using a calendar like this makes it easy to look back over the month and see if we have been missing anything consistently.

    We also use lots of manipulatives. As they come into the house, I package each set into its own ziploc storage bag (I like the gallon size) and label it with the name of the set AND HOW MANY PIECES it is supposed to have. This helps tremendously! No more finding Unifix cubes for weeks!

  5. My little ones are the master hot spot makers if they are left unsupervised, therefore the most important thing I do each day is to place one of my older children in charge of the youngest two or three children while I’m doing school with another older sibling. I have made a nice long list of rotating ideas for the one in charge to do with the others, such as reading a book aloud, practicing counting, colors, and shapes, working puzzles, going for a nature walk outside, and many more such ideas. This keeps the little ones from destroying the rest of the house while I accomplish our educational endeavors. – TN
  6. This September will mark our fifteenth consecutive “Back-to-Homeschool Day.” It took me a few years to learn this secret, but it has saved us such frustration:

    FIRST WEEK: DO ONE SUBJECT EACH SCHOOL DAY THIS WEEK! That’s right. Just pick one and start out with it. Then pick a great book and read a chapter or two out loud. Don’t try to do every thing on your well-ordered schedule in the first week! You will end up crying (or yelling!) at your kids and who needs it? (You might even quit homeschooling!) You can add another subject or two next week. By the end of three or four weeks, you’ll be into a full course load with minimum stress. It is so much better to start out slowly than to crash and burn in three days.

    MAKE THE FIRST WEEK A TWO OR THREE DAY WEEK. Don’t feel like you need to start on a Monday and go clear through to Friday the first week. If you really think you need to do this, spend at least two of those days on a Nature Walk or go to the Zoo while it is still warm. Bring another family along! (Don’t be tempted to organize a field trip! We are going for No-Stress here.) These are valid educational activities and will score big Mom Points with your kids.

    First Day of School: PLAY WITH YOUR STUFF! Let the kids organize their materials, put their names on their notebooks, decorate a cover for their 3-ring-binders, etc. Take their picture. (We are ALL dressed to shoes, right?!) Make a chart showing their height and weight. List their favorite things: favorite color, favorite dessert, favorite book, favorite movie, etc. Have them write down one goal for this school year. Put this along with their photo in their portfolio for the year. You can take another picture and gather more statistics on the last day of school to see how much they’ve grown. This is a lot of fun and says “I Care About YOU!”

    SAY THE PLEDGE and SING A PATRIOTIC SONG! We may be striving for a “relaxed” atmosphere, but it’s important for our kids to become familiar with these American icons.

    Incorporate FLYLADY’S BABY STEPS into your homeschooling routines. They work! – Idaho Homeschooling FLYBABY

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