Sunday, February 19, 2012

Before and After

I have been looking forward to Presidents' Weekend for so long!  Four days off!  I am really excited to not be getting up so early, and not being on a clock. I have no formal plans for the long weekend, but a ton of odds and ends to get done.  Some school related stuff and some home stuff.  Since I was so looking forward to being off for four days, where did I end up spending three hours Saturday morning?  My classroom, of course!  If I were Homer Simpson, there would totally be a D'Oh!! here.  I had forgotten to bring my plan book home, so I was just going to run in and grab it.  However, once I was there my brain started churning. 

Hmmm, I really do need to get that supply closet organized. . .
There's never enough time to get to it during the school week. . .
Gee, I have some time now to do it. . .
NO!  It's your time off. Leave! . .
But, I do have four days off. . .
And, I already have the containers I need. . .
It wouldn't be so terrible to put in just a little time today. . .
I can clean that supply closet in an hour!
THREE HOURS LATER, I have a very clean closet! 

This my supply closet. 
Very innocent looking, yes?  But, when you open the doors it was an avalanche waiting to happen.  I was so excited to start that I forgot to take a picture of the actual "before."  But, here is a picture I took after I had already emptied out a ton of stuff.
I know that doesn't look too terrible, but imagine all the supplies on these two table tops (as well as some stuff on the floor you can't see) also jammed in there.  Every time I would open the doors, all this nonsense would tumble out around my feet. 
It was making me crazy!
And, here is the AFTER!

Makes my heart beat fast! The green paper labels are make-do for now. 
The OCD in my soul wants to make some cute printed labels later.
For now, I thought I would tell you a little about each shelf. 
I know, sounds crazy exciting for a blog post. 
But, there might be tip or two about supplies I order and how I use them that you can use. 
Or, it just might be a boring post on closet organization!
Let's see.

Top Shelf & Second Shelf

Top Shelf:  Actually, you're right.  Nothing too exciting there.  It holds some extra binders, smaller chart paper, a couple of extra pencil sharpeners, and some labels.  I also have two rolls of clear contact paper ready to go.  I cover all my paperback teacher guides with contact paper.  These would be the workbooks I handle every day, like my math answer booklet.  It really helps them hold up longer.  I also cover my professional books if it is one I know I will go back to a lot.

Second Shelf:  Here is where I organized all the small stuff such as pens, staples, clips, etc.  And, yes!  That is an air freshener in my closet.  We had an extra in the classroom, and I just stuck it in there one day.  Turns out it is quite nice to open the doors and be greeted with apple-cinnamon scents.

The other thing you see on this shelf is a lone black Sharpie over on the right.  As I was cleaning out the closet, I could see how much of some things I have and how I needed to replace some things.  I don't know about you, but when it comes time to place the supply order for the next year I always forget something.  To avoid that for next year, I taped a piece of paper to the inside of the closet and jotted down the things I know I want to remember to order.

Seriously, why has it taken me fifteen years of teaching to figure this out?  Now, I keep the Sharpie on the shelf, and when I see I need something I can just jot it down.  This should ensure I don't forget anything when ordering for next year.  I plan to keep an ongoing list like this starting in September every year so I'll always have a runnning list.

Third Shelf

Third Shelf:  Turns out I have an abundance of note cards, sticky notes, and masking tape.  On the other side are some items I use a lot.  2-pocket folders.  Can you ever have enough of those?  I have done all new center tasks this year and gone through a ton of these.  There are also extra poly-string envelopes.  I use these all the time.  They are great for hole-punching and putting in a binder for holding larger items.  Sort of like a more expensive version of my MacGyver like storage solution. 

Anther item I always order each year are a box of business size envelopes.  They are not only good for parent notes, but I give them to my friends to store the cards we cut out for some of the Everyday Math Games we play.  It just makes it so  much easier to grab a handful of envelopes and go.  Plus, I don't exactly relish the idea of having to ask the office every time I need an envelope!

One other item on my shelf I order every year without fail is 9 X 12 manila clasp envelopes.  Anytime I give out a report or project, I give out an envelope with it. All directions go in this envelope.   I tell my friends that they should keep all their work in this envelope as well.  It keeps everything in one place.  No lost papers.  Plus, if I want to check in on their work it is all there for me to see.  When we worked on our famous people research reports, each friend had an envelope to keep their work and book in.  Plus, if I want to collect their work, it's easy to just have them turn in the envelope instead of a pile of papers.

Bottom Shelf

Bottom Shelf:  I think I might just have enough notebooks and paper. Maybe.  Actually, except for yellow paper, I obviously have plenty!  I do need to order some yellow lined paper for next year.  My friends use yellow paper for drafting of all writing assignments.  All final copy work is done on white lined paper or the different specialty themed papers we have.  I find having yellow paper used only for drafting very helpful.  I can tell at a glance what my friends are working on, and it helps them to not get their papers confused on their desk when they are going from the draft to writing the final copy.

The only other item I would point out is my long-arm stapler.  Do you have one?  It is invaluable for making books with your friends.
So, that's my newly organized supply closet.  I don't regret giving up those three hours yesterday because this will make my life so much easier in school.  It really only took me two hours to do the closet. I have to be honest and say I spent an hour leveling some books for my class library before I made myself get up and leave. 

If you know anything about my classroom, you know I still have two more closets like this one in my room.  One we call the art closet.  It holds all my construction paper and craft/art supplies as well as some odds and ends for bulletin boards and such.  The other closet is just a mish-mosh of stored items.  Sadly, I still need to organize both of them.  But that's for another day.  A girl can only give up so much of her long weekend, right?!!!! :-)
Don't forget to enter the give-away I'm having and win your own copy of Testing Miss Malarkey!  I've been reading the comments, and you all have been so nice!  Thank you for all the compliments. You make me smile!


  1. Wow Nancy! Your closet looks great! You've motivated me to do mine!

    Down Under Teacher

  2. Your closet looks great!! I need to do that with mine so badly.

    Apples and Papers

  3. Nancy, this looks fantastic!! I love the idea of the list on the inside door--totally brilliant!

  4. I wish my closet looked like this. Can you come do mine for me??? It looks great.

  5. I desperately need to organize my supply closet... it's teeny and jam packed!!

    A Cupcake for the Teacher

  6. Looks great! Very neat and organized. Great idea of having the list ready to jot down what you need.
    Conversations in Literacy

  7. I'm so jealous of how clean and organized this looks!

    Fun in Room 4B

  8. I found you on Pinterest...

    Your closet makes me smile. I currently work as a para now, but I have had my fair share of, "We really need to clean out our front closet." Our latest project took us two and a half days to do (the kids helped). It looked so great after it was finished. Of course, then I took a medical leave of absence and it kind of got discombobulated again...but your post rejuvenates my soul to get in there and get it tackled before it's another 3-day job!

  9. This is so beautiful! I am so jealous!!

    To The Square Inch

  10. I learned several great things from your post. It was not boring at all but fascinating instead. Perhaps that is just my OCD though. =)

    Mrs Poland
    Think, Wonder, & Teach

  11. barbara in San AntonioFebruary 25, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    It's a beautiful closet and time well spent! Congratulations!!! I'm amazed at the abundance of your supplies...Does your district pay for all that? Do you just get to order what you want, and it appears??? I'm not in as fortunate position as you....but, oh to dream:) I love supplies and especially ORGANIZED supplies!!!! Great job!