How To Keep Parent Volunteers Organized

This month we have brought you so many amazing ideas to help with organization in your classroom.  Today I have one last organization tip for you.  
One way I help keep myself and my class organized is through my parent volunteers.

Over the past three years, I have been blessed with AMAZING parent volunteers.  I have about one per day who come in and do a variety of tasks for me.  Some prefer to work with kiddos and some prefer clerical work, like copying and filing.  Then I have a handful of parents that I use for sending materials home to cut or assemble.  

During Meet the Teacher I send home this form so I can see who my parent volunteers will be for the year.  

I have a few different ways I help keep them organized when they come to my classroom.

First off is my parent volunteer organization station!  
This is where pretty much everything my parent volunteers will need is stored.

Student Mailboxes for filing.

 Teacher Tool Kit filled with supplies they may need.

Basket filled with even more supplies!

Stickers for homework folders, copying directions, stapler, tape, and more! 

My parent volunteer rolling cart is to the left of the counter.  

This year I bought a new rolling cart, specific for my parent volunteers.  I love that it has six large drawers, instead of the 8 or 10 smaller drawers.  Each drawer is labelled so they know exactly what goes where.    

Copy: This is where I put all my masters with the instructions and they take that to the office to copy.  I also use this handy dandy copying check list to make it easier for me and for them when making copies.  I simply circle each thing that I would like done, paper clip it to the original, and put them in the copy drawer.  

When a parent comes in, they just take the draw and go.  Last year I would put a ream or two of paper in the drawer or basket, because we had to bring our own paper to the copier.  But this year the office is stocking up our paper, so I don't have to worry about that.  

File:  This is where I put all the notes, classwork, or any other information that needs to be sent home.  My parent who assembles my homework packets puts them right in this drawer so it's ready to file.  

Grade:  This is where I put completed worksheets that are ready for me or a parent to grade.  If I feel an assignment is appropriate for a parent to grade, I'll write that on my directions page to them.  I do have two parents who I know really well and can trust with grading.  One of them grades all my math facts pages, and the other grades my weekly spelling and reading tests.  I've trained them both on how I want them graded, and know that I can trust them to not discuss any grades outside of school.  And none of the grading leaves my room.  

Enter:  This is where all assignments are put once they are graded and alphabetized.  I take these assignments, look through them, and enter them in my grade book.  Then I put these either in the file drawer or a separate pile for me to pull students back to reteach certain skills.  

For Later:  This is a random drawer.  When I first started teaching at my school, I had a co-worker who was so over the top planned.  She always copied things and gave them to me several weeks in advance!  Instead of piling these papers up in a closet or on a counter somewhere, I put them in this drawer.  And now when I am on the ball and copy things several weeks in advance, I put them in this drawer.  

Extras:  This is where we put extra papers after they are passed out.  This way if someone is missing a paper, they know they can look in this drawer and grab one.  

I also use this parent volunteer sheet, so that when they come to the classroom they don't have to interrupt the class to know what I would like them to do,  I have it all written down and laid out for them and they can get started.  

For my parents who help at home, I send the materials and directions in a zip lock bag so that all the materials stay nice and don't get lost.  I always include one sample of what I would like it to look like.  I always send home any materials they might need - glue, scissors, paper cutter, etc.  Never assume they have all the supplies!

 I also made a sheet when I had my regular volunteers, so instead of rewriting everything everyday that they needed to do, I had it pre-typed for the week.  Monday was always check in progress reports, grade and file spelling pre-test.  Tuesday was always pull back these students to work on math facts.  So if it was something that was staying the same, I just printed it on the paper and kept it in my parent volunteer basket.  That helped especially in the morning when I had recess duty and forgot to fill it out the night before.  So that's another idea if you have an overflow of parents or if you have very consistent jobs for them to do.  

Parent Volunteers can literally save your classroom.  I have had years with no parent volunteers, and years with more than I could possibly find a use for.  It really just helps the classroom stay organized and run smoothly if you know how to utilize them properly.  Last year I had so many that I just didn't even know what to do, so I came up with these systems to help me keep me organized. 

How do you use parent volunteers in your classroom?
Any other suggestions or tips for how to keep them organized and useful?

Classroom Organization

Hi friends!  This is Heather from Learning with Mrs. Langley and I'm going to share some simple and easy organization tips today.  If you are like me you are up to your ears in new students right now and you need every single bit of organization you can muster.  If your classroom is a mess, your day quickly becomes a mess!  Here are a few of my favorite tips: 

Binders vs Files:  

I had a huge file cabinet....ok maybe 2! I am not a file person though so I ran into problems finding things after I filed them away.  I fixed this problem by making binders labeled August-May and I keep all my resources in the binders I need for the month.  I also keep binders for every unit I am teaching (math, reading, writing).  It has helped me stay organized with all of my teaching materials! 


I love to buy the cheap clear shoe boxes from Wal-mart to keep my math manipulatives in.  I always make sure I have about 4 boxes of each type of manipulative so I can have one for each table.  It helps me teach on the fly! 

Student materials:  I am a firm believer in having everything kiddos need out on the table and ready to go.  I keep the middle of their tables stocked with supplies. 

Crate seating:  

Best Pinterest project ever!  I made my crate seats about 4 years ago and they make the best storage for all those back to school supplies that come in. 

Teacher toolbox:  

Make one!  They are amazing!  I love that all my little items are easy to get to and not hiding in my desk, especially when a parent comes in and needs something small like staples or push pins to help me with a project. 

Those are a few things I do to keep my classroom organized.  Of course I always seem to find a way to mess it up again but if you have the system in place it's easier to clean up in the long run!  

What are your favorite ways to stay organized? Share your favorites in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by today! 

Back to School Night Organiztion


For the last few years I have been blessed with an amazing teaching partner. One of the things that we both have in common is a nervousness when speaking to parents. This makes back to school night very stressful so we have always gone a little overboard in organizing our thoughts for the parents. We started with a PowerPoint presentation that has morphed its way into a very detailed packet that we send home with parents. This allows us to talk as little or as much as we feel comfortable with and still give the parents the information that they need.

We go first grade all the way and align our thoughts with the ABC’s. Using the ABC’s allows us to cover a wide range of material: attendance, curriculum, field trips, volunteers, etc. and have it look really organized at the same time. We do add 2 S's to the alphabet because we really wanted to break Social Studies, Science, and Spelling information apart. We love this format and our parents seem to appreciate all the information that they get to take home and keep on hand. After the ABC’s section we have a page for special notes, a page for our classroom schedules, and a page for the grading scale. The letter for the grading scale was one of several additions to the packet this year. We were able to change our first graders to an OSN grading scale versus an ABC grading scale. I have included images below of our packet below so you can get an idea of what I am talking about.

An advantage to having a packet to hand to parents is they have all the important information in writing. They aren’t just relying on our nervous words during a presentation. This is helpful especially when you add things like not responding to emails on weekends or after a certain in the evening so that you can be with family. Major things like that are in writing so that they aren’t questioning whether they heard you right or because they forget half of what you tell them by the time they drive home because their life can be just as crazy as ours.

Thanks for reading about how my partner and I organize our thoughts for back to school night!

Library Book Bins

The books that were so well loved in my classroom needed to find a home in my new library.  I didn't want the books to get lost on the shelves, and I didn't have money for a book browser.  As my husband and I were talking about building a book browser that fit on the library shelf, I made the decision to bring my classroom book organization into the library.

Two years ago, I bought ice bins from Wal-Mart so I could store my books in my classroom.  I didn't have $4 per bin to spend, so the allure of the under $2 price point was overwhelming.  I seriously drove to three local stores in order to outfit my classroom.  The cashiers would look at me like I was crazy when I walked up with ten ice bins in my arms.

I decided to label the bins and the books in order to keep it organized.  I labeled the fiction bins by the first letter in the author's last name, and the non-fiction bins to the 100 in the Dewey Decimal System.

I then put a label on the front of the book so the students could put the book back in the correct bin.

We went over procedures on how to go "book shopping", and they were ready to go.  While the section was meant for kindergartners, I see all of the kids "shopping" in the bins.  They are easy to look through and the books catch your eye.  Those white ice bins were the best purchase I ever made to organize the classroom.  Four years later, and they are still holding strong.

Happy back to school season!

Sharing Some Sunshine!

I am so excited to be bringing you the beginning of something GREAT!!!  On the 15th of every month here at Hello Sunshine we are going to be giving YOU the opportunity to share with us, and we are going to be sharing with you!!

You can share ANYTHING you want!!  It can be a great tool you've found on Pinterest, a great way to organize something in your classroom, your favorite teacher supply right now, a great freebie on TPT, or even something your really excited to share about!!!

I am sharing with you an awesome FREEBIE I found on TPT!!  My teaching partner and I found this awesome freebie to put out at our meet the teacher night on Tuesday!!  We put it out with some mints that we bought at The Dollar Tree, and an awesome bucket from Target Dollar Spot!  This poster would be great to have out for meet the teacher, parent teacher conferences or notes that you could send home!  If I was going to do that I would probably print these four to a page!!

I hope that you are able to use this for something this upcoming year!!  I hope you will join us and share a little sunshine too!!  Feel free to use the button to link back to our blog!  We can't wait to see what you have to share with us!!

Feel free to use the blank graphic so you can put your own image on it to help share your sunshine!!

Thank you for sharing in my sunshine today!!

Organized Materials

My first day of school was YESTERDAY!!  I was so excited that we started on a Wednesday this year!!  My goal this year is to stay super organized, and stay on top of things so they don't pile up!!

I blogged all about my new way I am planning this year here and I have to say it is working super well so far!!

Today I am excited to share with you all about how I am staying organized in my classroom!!  I am soooo excited because I have a teaching partner this year!  She is AMAZING and a total blessing!!

We have worked together a TON this summer to get ready for our school year, so some of the pictures you see are from both of our rooms!

To help keep my personal weekly copies organized I used this rolling cart from Michaels!  I LOVE it!!  I used it last year to hold my math manipulatives, hence the tags on the right side of the drawers. These awesome tags are from the Target Dollar Spot, and they are white board stickers!  I can erase them and reuse this for something else if this doesn't work!!

I am using the bottom drawer to hold all of my copies I need for the next week as we collect them.  We are SUPER blessed because on Wednesdays MY MOM will be coming into my classroom to help us!!  I am using these awesome copy notes from Just A Primary Girl too!  They are amazing, and will save your life!!

To help students stay organized this year we bought bins to match our classroom colors.  All students in my homeroom will also be in the green bins.  Students in my teaching partner's class will also be in the blue bins.  Then we have their workbooks numbered, and their numbers are also in our coordinating colors.  For their workbooks I made name tags that they are decorating before we use packing tape to attach them to the notebooks.

We're doing the same thing with their notebooks for science, social studies and math.  These bins are in my classroom, so they know exactly where they will put their notebooks.  Plus we have the subjects different colors to help them also know which notebooks should go in which bins.

To help with passing out papers we decided to have one central location for us to return papers to both classes.  We numbered each section with our class colors, and just used numbers.  This way we don't have to do it again next year with names.  The top half is for my partner's class, and the bottom half is my class.  The blue bucket on the top is where we will put their work that needs to be filed.

I hope that you have some awesome organization in your room too!  How do you return student work, or keep it organized until it's time to return it?!  I would love to hear what you do!

Make sure to come back all month where you can find out some more awesome organization tricks from the amazing Hello Sunshine bloggers!

Labels, Labels and MORE Labels

I get asked all the time, how do I keep my classroom so clean and organized. I tell everyone, it's all about your expectations with your kids and how you model this behavior to them. My students see me putting things away correctly. They watch me as I make a label for a box and place things in it. I am setting examples of how I want my students to be in my classroom. Organization is very important in improving classroom clutter and helps make the learning environment positive and centered around learning.

Imagine you go into a classroom that is a disaster. Papers are all over, students have messy desks, bins and boxes are all over the place but you aren't sure what is in them. Are you getting anxiety just thinking about this classroom? I do! I often get asked to help organize and give teachers suggestions for cleaning up their classrooms. My number one thing I tell them is LABEL EVERYTHING! 

If you want students to put things away properly then give them a place (with a label) to put it! The more you label, the less you get asked, "Teacher, where do I put this?" or "Where does this go?"

Don't forget to take time to organize YOU! Make your teacher area clean and tidy. It makes it better to look at since you will be there many hours each day. I know one thing I always make sure I do each evening before I leave school is, clean off my desk! I label bins and baskets all over my teacher corner so I have places for things. Even if it is a basket that says FILE. That means you will find time later on to file it, but its out of your hair until then!

Remember you can use numbers instead of names when labeling student cubbies and work boards. Numbers are easy for sorting papers and shorter for those smaller items you need to throw a label on. 

Remember labeling can be your best friend if you start the year organized and make it a priority. You will be a happier teacher and won't have to spend endless hours cleaning up and sorting if you do it right now!

I love Learning in Wonderland and Ladybug's Teacher Files organization label packs. Don't wait too long get your classroom labels and organized!

Getting Ready for Back-to-School – Communicating With Parents

Many of you are getting ready to go back to school.  Some have even started already.  YIKES!

Communicating With Parents

I thought I would post some communication reminders to help get yourself ready to meet the parents.  These are not in any particular order, but you really need to think about each one as you start making your plans for the year.

It is important to have a plan in place for how you will communicate the various types of information with parents. 

Newsletters - I definitely recommend sending home classroom newsletters.  Ideally, weekly is best, but you could also do them monthly or even quarterly.  It's important to let parents know what is going on in the classroom and share photos if you are able.  There are MANY different templates available that are easy to use.  I have many themes that you can check out here.

Business Card / Magnet - When you first meet parents make sure to give them all your contact information.  At least that way they can't say they were,'t sure how to get a hold of you.  I usually give them business card magnets.  I have my cards printed at VistaPrint and put the magnets on myself.  It's cheaper that way.  Ask parents to stick it on their fridge.  That way they have easy access to your contact information.

Welcome Packet - Have welcome packets prepped (with 10-15 extras for any new students throughout the year) With all your back-to-school information and ALL those forms and papers from the school that you can easily hand out to parents at Meet the Teacher, or send home with kiddos the first day of school.  I put mine together in large ziploc bags so I can easily add anything new that needs to go in.

Behavior Reports - Decide how you will communicate student behavior with parents.  Will you send home weekly or daily reports?  Will you just make phone calls when necessary?  How will you communicate positive behaviors?

Email - Make sure you have a way to collect contact information from the parents from day 1 because we all know that what the office has is often very often incorrect.  I have forms like this out at Meet the Teacher (it's also a great way to remember who showed up for Meet the Teacher!) and on the first day of school.  You can grab a copy of my form by clicking on the image.

Website - Will you have a class website or blog?  How will parents be able to access it?  What will you include on the site?  Prepare an informational note about your website or blog to include in your welcome packet  and have the site up for parents to see for Meet the Teacher.

Remind 101 - Does your district allow you to use site/app like Remind 101 to communicate with parents?  If so, have all log-in information and details ready and available from the start.

Graded work - How will you ensure that parents receive the graded work that you return to students that often seems to disappear into the vast unknown that is a student's backpack?  I have always sent home graded work in a folder on a particular day of the week in a specified folder.  Think "Take Home Tuesday" or "Friday Folders."  I have found that sending things home on Fridays though, papers tend to not get seen, especially for students who spend weekends with a different parent.  Tuesdays have worked well for me.  It gives me time to get the quizzes from Friday graded and recorded.

Phone Calls - How and when will you return parent phone calls?  Before school, during prep periods, lunch time, after school?  Let parent know when they can expect to hear from you should they call and let them know that you cannot take calls during class time.  Do not give out your personal telephone information.  Unfortunately there are some parents who will abuse it.

Homework - What is your homework policy?  Will it be sent home daily, weekly, or not at all.  When do you expect it returned to school?  Will parents need to help students with homework or should the students be able to complete the work independently?

These are all important things to consider as you are making plans for the new year.  Do you have another way that you communicate with parents that I did not mention?  We would love to hear about it.  Please share in the comments!