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Get Ready, Teachers – It’s Back-to-School Prep Time

Posted by Christen Barbercheck on


While it’s just mid-July and there’s plenty of summer fun left to be had, teachers everywhere are thinking about preparing their classrooms for the coming school year. It will be here before you know it! Many teachers are particularly eager and excited to choose all the great ways they’ll keep things organized and interesting for their students.  

A quick search for “classroom organizing ideas” on GooglePinterestYouTube and many other sites yield an overflow of colorful, whimsical, and downright amazing ways to inspire students, create a positive-feeling environment, and keep children focused on the most important task at hand – learning! (And as all teachers will attest, many of those classroom ideas also are ways to help save your own sanity in the chaos of any new school year!) 

All of at Time Timer know teachers are some of the most creative professionals out there in the world. In the midst of all the creativity, lesson plans, and education goals – a crucial element of success includes time management. This includes both teachers and their students, no matter their ages.  A little guidance can go a long way when it comes to helping kids of all ages grasp the passage of time, visualize time remaining for a test session, or understand the amount of time left to read a favorite book during quiet time. That’s where Time Timer comes in – it’s your newest classroom hero! For readers and non-readers alike, Time Timer “shows” time segments clearly with its high-contrast, easy-to-read face and a red disk that “disappears” as a set amount of time elapses. 

The concept of time management may be a particularly challenging concept to grasp for children in special education classrooms. Not only is Time Timer a powerful tool for visual thinkers of all ages and abilities, it can be helpful with schedule transitions and time management for individuals on the autism spectrum, in particular. While some people learn differently, they may also need to learn, understand, and interpret the passage of time a bit differently, as well. 

One of our favorite teachers who shares wonderful classroom tips online, Mr. Riedl, displays his own enthusiasm for using Time Timer in his classroom. Check out this vlog on his YouTube channel – at the 15:30 mark, Mr. Riedl proudly displays his Time Timer in the classroom. (Keep in mind, this is pre-COVID.) In another YouTube video from 2019, Mr. Riedl and his enthusiastic students eagerly unpack the Time Timer Max timer, which measures 17”x17”. Check it out on our website!   

Regardless of your classroom organizing style or design taste, heading back to the classroom this year with in-person students presents a new chapter for most educators. Notable because this Fall will be the first complete, in-classroom session for many teachers and their students since early 2020, as well.  

So of course, many ideas may revolve around accommodating any local or state-required restrictions concerning student distancing and sharing of common classroom items. That said, a teacher’s creativity is really the only limit to what you can do in the classroom – and if you feel you’re lacking in that department – never fear, there’s an awesome Pinterest board for that! 

And creativity in the classroom isn’t reserved just for student organization, display areas, and other categories. Flexible seating and other nontraditional seating arrangements are all the rage in classroom settings. While it may not be a good fit for every educator or every type of student, there are a lot of great ideas out there.  

Resilient Educator shared a range of unique ways to approach classroom setup. Several great approaches featured in this article include creating “learning stations” throughout a classroom footprint, as opposed to more traditional rows of students. According to Rob Levit, a specialist in creativity in the classroom and founder of Arts Integration and STEAM Professional Development, “Content can be delivered in a variety of sensory modalities. One station can be a quick sketch, the next station can be a thinking routine, another can be a word find or a simple board game, and still another can be a tableau (a simple drama technique where students collaborate to create a freeze frame to demonstrate their understanding of an aspect of the content).” 

Of course, this may be out of the comfort zone for many educators, but for schools with a culture of embracing unique ways of learning, this is only one of many cool ideas that may be just the right fit. Levit also encourages teachers to consider what would make THEM feel enthusiastic and excited to teach in their own classroom. That’s always a smart place to start. Levit adds, “Colorful art, flexible seating arrangements, evolving (not static) word walls, a cool welcome ritual as students enter the room?” Chances are high that if you are excited about your vibrant classroom, their students will be as well. 

Some resources online encourage teachers to be cautious of putting too much pressure on themselves to create the “cutest” or “perfect” classroom environment. Some go so far to say, “Cute classrooms are overrated”, as this post discusses. The best educators already know, it’s most important to focus on the task at hand – educating your students, inspiring them, and helping them succeed! 



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