Classroom Management

An Easy-Peasy Way to Prep for Your Day

When I was student teaching, my cooperating teacher always made it a point to prepare for the next school day before she went home. It appealed to me that she was already ready for the day no matter if she walked in fifteen minutes early or right as the bell was ringing. Now that I have been teaching on my own for a while, I find that sometimes I have to leave school right when the bell rings because of meetings or family commitments. It’s only when I return to school the next day that I find myself a little stressed and pressed for time to get everything organized for my classes. So, I’ve started to employ some tricks to help me stay organized even if I don’t have time to spare after school.


easy peasy


Here Are My Top Five Lesson Prep Tricks


1. Prep Everything at Once

When I know a grade level will be starting a new project, I prepare ALL the materials that every class will need. If I just take it one day at a time, cutting only the paper I need for the class I’m seeing that day, then I find I waste more time than just getting all the classes prepped and organized at once. I generally use about 15 minutes of a plan period to make this happen. Plus if I do it then, I don’t need to stay after school.


2. Store Your Paint in Foil

When a project calls for paint, I snag several eggs cartons from my parent-donated stash and fill them up with the colors the project calls for. Then, I give them a spritz with water from my spray bottle, set them on a tray, and wrap the whole tray with foil. The paints will keep for the whole week the students are using them. All you have to do is refill when a color gets low. I love this trick for its time-saving abilities and because it saves me from wasting paint. Plus the clean-up is a breeze — just find a trashcan.

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3. Use Tubs to Stay Organized

I have a stash of ten large plastic tubs. These tubs house all the materials I need for a particular project when it is being created. I put everything I need for the project in these tubs and then stash them in one of my cabinets. I don’t have to run around the room collecting what I need, because the tub already has everything in it. When a project finishes, I simply clean out the tub and restock it for the next project. This is similar to the cart system that Alecia just talked about.


4. Stash Your Paper Pieces in Baggies

When I am cutting paper for a project, I use baggies to house the different sizes I will need. That way, when I start teaching the project, I can easily snag the baggie with the paper size I need without having to search around for loose paper.

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5. Pull Supplies at the Beginning of the Day

Whether I have a few minutes after school, or I’m rolling in at 8:00am, all I need to do to prep for the day is pull the tubs out of my cabinet for the classes I’m seeing that day and place them on a wooden cart that has taken up permanent residence at the front of my classroom. Once I see a class for the day, the tub makes it way back into the cabinet. I don’t waste time looking for supplies throughout the day and at the end of the day, everything is neat and tidy!


Do you prep for your class before you leave for the day or the morning of? Which method do you prefer?

What organizational trick do you have up your sleeve which makes prep easy?


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jennifer Borel

Jennifer Borel is one of AOEU’s Adjunct Instructors and Academic Advisors and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She runs her own photography business and is passionate about students exploring the medium.

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