August 31, 2012

((Belated)) Giveaway Winner!

Omg.  I am the worst blogger ever.  I said I would pick a winner for the organizing tips book giveaway over a week ago.  Oops.  Sorry, guys!  Anyways, I'm excited to share the winner is...

Shannon!  I love Shannon and her blog!  She is a new runner, veteran teacher, and inspirational in both areas!  Best of all, she is super friendly and sweet :)  Enjoy, Shannon!

Email me at juiceboxesandcrayolas AT gmail DOT com with your address!

August 27, 2012

Race Recap: Danskin Sprint Triathlon

Oh hi.  Remember when I said I'd recap my first week teaching 3/4 multi-grade at my new school?  Yeah, I never made it that far!  I will soon, I promise.  Just know that I am HAPPY and BUSY and STRESSED and TIRED all at once.  But mostly happy.  :)  Part of why I'm tired?  (Besides grad school?)  Oh, you know, I just did a TRIATHLON yesterday.  I am still not used to saying that.  Yes, pathetic me who milked asthma as an excuse to get out out of PE more times than I am proud to admit, is a triathlete.  X2.  BAM.

Yesterday morning I completed my second sprint triathlon, the Danskin Sprint Tri in Pleasant Prairie, WI.  When my alarm went off at 4:15, all I could think was, "Where am I?  Why am I awake?  Do I have school today?"  Thankfully, I figured it out soon enough and got my sleepy self out of bed and into my tri clothes.  I drove an hour in the dark to Pleasant Prairie, parked my car in the satellite lot because *surprise* the road was already closed off in the direction I was coming from, and rode my bike 2 miles to the race site.  Eh, we'll call it a nice easy warm up (although I did manage to get two bug bites on the way...).  Since I was super early, I was able to chat with the bike mechanics that were available, get a couple small adjustments made to my bike (since I was too lazy to bring it in for a much needed tune up...yay procrastinating!), and have my tires topped off with air.  Oh wait, I should know how to fill up my tires myself and not rely on my dad for this?  You don't say.  I should be able to change a flat too?  Huh.  Better get on that...
I set up my transition area and then proceeded to wander around, wait in bathroom lines, kill time playing on my phone, and blow my nose 100 times while waiting for my parents to show up.  (Damn allergies.)  A bunch of people were warming up in the lake, and while I knew it would PROBABLY have been a good idea to do that, I just couldn't get the motivation to get in the water before I absolutely had to.  Instead, I sat by the water watching other age groups start and visualizing myself successfully completing the swim course.  Since I've been struggling with open water swimming (read: hyperventilating any time I get in open water), I repeated my current swim mantra to myself over and over: STRONG. CALM. STRONG. CALM.  Short and sweet.
I'm straight up there in the middle closest to this side--one of the few without their arms out of the water!
Yeah breaststroke...
About an hour after the official race start, I made my way over to the lake to start with my wave.  STRONG, CALM, I thought over and over again.  I also made peace with the fact that I might hyperventilate at the beginning of the swim.  Instead of telling myself, "You won't hyperventilate!" I decided it was best to make my peace with the fact that it might happen, as well as the fact that I would breathe, calm down, keep swimming, and find my groove.  I told myself that I had had trouble catching my breath with each open water swim, but had never NOT caught it, had never NOT found my groove, and had definitely never come anywhere near drowning.  I got my head in the game, positioned myself at the BACK CORNER of my wave, and jumped into the water.

Guess what?  I DID NOT FREAK OUT, HYPERVENTILATE, PANIC, or DROWN!!!  At all.  Zero freaking out in the water.  I cannot even tell you how amazing this felt.  Seriously, once I started swimming (breast stroke, even though I've been training with freestyle, whatcha gonna do...a swim is a swim...), I just kept breathing, kept repeating STRONG, CALM, and kept moving forward.  When I had made a little progress and hadn't panicked yet, I realized that I wasn't GOING to panic!  And I unearthed a massive store of confidence in the process.  I knew I HAD this.  I knew I wasn't going to hyperventilate and that I was going to make it through the swim without ANY problems.  Women all around me were swimming side stroke, back stroke, and clutching noodles for swimming help (love women's tris), but me?  I was breaststroking my way around the lake with confidence and ease.  I finished the 1/2 mile swim in 21:13 according to my watch (possibly a tiny bit quicker, but for some reason my chip time is just a time for each leg and a total time--no separate times for transitions).
Thanks photographer Dad!
I even managed to run my way up the beach and into transition, got my shoes on and got on my bike, and made it back out of there in 2:06 accd to my watch.  (T-1 from my first tri was 4:46!)
The bike leg went well overall--a few killer hills, but mostly smooth sailing!  I ate about 3 clif shot blocks during the bike leg.  It was nice and cloudy/cool and I wasn't thirsty, but did my best to hydrate with water/G2 from my water bottles.  I finished the 12 mile bike ride in 40:25.
T-2 was nice and speedy too---I racked my bike, swapped my helmet for a hat, and adjusted my hair as I jogged outta there, simultaneously sucking on a peanut butter GU even though hunger was the LAST thing on my mind.  Made it outta transition and onto the run course in 1:48.  (Damn ITband straps slowin' me down!  I definitely needed them though; holy tightness.)  During my brick workouts, the bike --> run transition and running leg has always been my biggest struggle energy-wise, but I got a huge burst of energy during the run!  I was feeling awesome, even running through a few of the galloway walk break "beeps" my watch was giving me.  My IT bands were aching, but I knew the finish line was SO CLOSE.  I am normally an 11-ish minute miler, so I was shocked when I passed the first mile marker, looked down at my watch, and saw that I'd only left T-2 10 minutes beforehand!
Check me out rockin' the purple top and IT band straps ;)
I kept up the speedy pace, passed a few women (side note: only at a women's race will you hear, "oh no, YOU go ahead!" on a course when you are trying to squeeze past someone on a tight course!  LOVE IT), got passed by a few, and sped up the closer I got to the finish.  I couldn't believe it when I saw that I finished the run in 30:29!  My 5K PR has been 31:34 for the past year and a half, and after I ran a 30 something 5K at the SheRox sprint tri in June, I chalked it up to a short run course.  But finishing the second tri with ANOTHER fast 5K...I'm wondering...this HAS to be another short course, right?  There's NO WAY I can be faster running a 5K in the end of a tri than during a regular 5K, right???  Please weigh in.  :)
Wow, this is getting long.  Anyways, I finished fast, strong, and smiling.  My watch says my total time was 1:36:04, but my official chip time was 1:33:05.  I'll take it!  For SheRox, my first tri, I had one goal: FINISH.    After finishing that race strong, I decided my goals for #2 would be to speed up transitions and NOT PANIC during the swim.  I'd say I succeeded in both those goals!  Hooray! :)

All in all it was a wonderful race--I felt great the whole time and finished feeling overwhelming proud of myself and how far I've come.  One of the mantras I carried with me was, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," and I truly believe now more than ever that if you have faith, confidence, and courage, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING.  Bring on the next challenge.  BRING IT ON.

August 21, 2012

Training Tuesday: Attempting to Embrace the 4am Workout

First things first:  Today = first day of school.  It was great.  Truly.  I think I'm going to hold off on a recap until the end of the week and just reflect on the whole thing.  But I must at least share the obligatory first day of school picture.  Second: Today = second class of a new grad class.  After last week's first session of this new class, I thought this course would be a cake walk.  I may have jinxed myself with thinking that, because umm after tonight I am ready to curl up in a ball and cry.  Or consume some adult beverages.  Or something along those lines...For now ut though I'm just laying in my bed at 9pm, unable to process anything else.  The four projects that were detailed to us tonight can wait until tomorrow...or the weekend.  Yes, four simultaneous projects.  Sweet.

But since my brain is completely exhausted from class and I cannot bring myself to discuss anything that reminds me even remotely of class (i.e. teaching in general), I'm going to talk training.  It is Tuesday after all, right?

Yesterday I grumbled about my alarm going off at 5:30...well today it went off at...gulp...4am.  Yup, you read that right.  Let me give you a little background:  I love sleep with a gigantic passion.  Seriously.  I can take a nap anytime, anywhere and have a very close relationship with my snooze button.  But in the spirit of keeping up with my training even through the start of the school year, a time when in the frantic rush of starting new routines, excercise can go on the back burner and tends to STAY there for me if I let that happen, I was determined to start the year right.  I run Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday or Sunday with one extra day of an EASY/SHORT run or tiny run as part of a tri brick sometimes thrown in there too.  I've experimented with other days, but staying consistent with Tuesday/Thursday/one weekend day just works best.  The thing is, though, that I have grad school Tuesday nights, like I said, after class my brain is often complete mush and all I want to do is curl up in the fetal position bed, workouts rarely happen.  That means if I'm going to run, it better be EARLY.

I'm talking hella early.  On a normal day I am up between 5 and 5:30 for school, so if I want to make time to run and foam roll/ice (even super briefly!), that alarm is gonna go off E A R L Y.  Case in point:
This morning was FREEZING!  I even had to break out my arm warmers and GLOVES for the first time since spring!  Crazy town.  On the other hand, it was super energizing.  I love a good run when it feels like the world isn't really awake yet, and a run when you can see the stars certainly is a plus.  (Turns out the stars are shining bright at 4:30!)    I'm not sure if it's the speedwork or if it was just the cold, but I was speeding along this morning and feeling strong.  Of course though, my garmin decided to act up so I don't know my exact distance or pace, but I think I'm getting to the point where I can give a pretty good estimate based on feel.
Arm warmers on, gloves in hand, thighs frozen.  CRAZY!
Anyways, I'm starting to completely ramble.  Must be the 3 hours of grad school hell taking their toll.  I swear I had a point to this post.  *Looks back at title*  OH. Right.  Embracing the 4am workout.  Here's what I do to make that 4am workout happen when it needs to:

1. Sleep in running clothes. I've said it before and I'll say it again--If my alarm goes off hella early and I am not already wearing running clothes, 9 times out of 10 I'm sleeping right through it.  There is something so pathetic about having to change out of workout  clothes without having worked out that gets me out of bed.

2.  Pack lunch and teacher bag the night before.  This is probably something I should do every night (should being the key word), but it's an absolute MUST if I want to squeeze in that workout.  Every second of sleep counts.
3. Lay out school outfit the night before.  There is no way I am going to waste time rummaging through my closet on a crazy early morning.  Once again, I love sleep and I don't want to give up a single second I don't have to!
4. Last but not least, tell someone you're going to workout in advance!  If you have a workout buddy, that's super easy, but even just mentioning to a friend on the phone the night before or a coworker that afternoon that you're planning on an early morning workout the next day gives you some tiny amount of accountability.  Obviously my friends could care less if or when I work out, but having someone say, "Did you actually make it out on that 4am run?" and being able to say, "Why yes I did, believe it or not!" still helps. :)

How do you squeeze in training when days are long and busy?

Any tips for getting out the door on early mornings?

August 20, 2012

Buh Bye Summer...

Teachers: Tomorrow is the last day to enter my giveaway to win a book of tips to organize your classroom! 

Today is August 20th and officially the start of the school year.  This morning I saw 5:30 am for the first time in a LONG time...unfortunately, my relationship with 5:30 has not improved since June, and I think it is safe to say that in this case, absence does not make the heart grow fonder.  Bummer.  Today was a day of boring meetings an Institute Day for teachers in my district, followed by a meet the teacher Back to School Night and barbeque.  In other words, it was a long one!  I am feeling so much more excited about this year, though, than I was this morning.  Third and Fourth graders are way cuter than 5th graders, it turns out!  And I love my new team.  But more about that later...first, let me share how I spent my last day of summer yesterday!

The morning started with a glorious 6-mile run.  You guys, I haven't seen 6 miles in quite awhile, and I love love loved this run.  I forgot the wonderful groove I get in after 5 miles (sometimes at least)!  But I have another reason why this run was awesome...Here's a clue:
What my legs looked like during Sunday's run...

See that?  Notice anything about my knees?  Here's another clue:
What my legs USUALLY look like before a run...
Yup, yesterday I ran without IT band straps for the first time in a LONG time!  Actually, this happened by accident.  I've been trying out KT tape on my IT bands this summer from time to time (I'll do a full post on KT tape vs. ITB straps another time!), and I typically put it on my legs the night before a run to let it really stick on tight.  Saturday night I forgot to do this, and Sunday morning I decided I'd use the tape anyways and just stuck it on before heading out the door.  Well, about 1 mile out the tape peeled right off my sweaty legs. I hadn't even brought the straps with me when I'd driven to the forest preserve where I like to run, and I immediately began wondering if I should just head back to my car and call it a day--I was already imagining the familiar knee pain that typically comes when I don't wear the straps (or even sometimes when I do!).
I decided to attempt the run anyways--the day was just too gorgeous to pass it up--and figured I would just stop and stretch as needed, listening to my body.  I stretched at 2 miles and 4 miles, and while I felt a little tightness in one of my knees, I can honestly say that there was not a single moment of the run when I was in pain--truly, this feels like a small miracle.  I don't want to say my IT band woes are OVER, but I am feeling so optimistic--something I haven't felt in terms of running/ITBS in a long time!

After my run (and an obligatory chocolate milk, PBJ, and a nap), I met my soul sister teacher friend Katy who also started school today for manicures and pedicures per back to school tradition...
Followed by Panera yumminess.  I am totally lovin' the summer corn chowder these days.  It is seriously AMAZING.
While I wasn't THRILLED to be gettintg up early this morning, and while I am still a little nervous about our first real day of school tomorrow, I am in a good place and feel 100% confident that I made the right decision in taking this job and moving to my new grade level and building.  What a great feeling to know you made the right choice!  And now, it's time to relax after a long day with some Jimmy Johns and craft beer... :)
PS: A big thank you to Claire from the Country Mouse Tales for featuring me on her blog today!  Claire, I love YOUR blog too!

When do you go back to school?  How are you feeling? 

August 18, 2012

Classroom Tour :)

Teachers: Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win a book of tips to organize your classroom!

Happy Saturday :)  I can't believe that this is my last weekend before the school year starts Monday--whoa, where did the summer go?   I started my Saturday off today with a grueling triathlon brick workout, my last before next Sunday's race.  I have loved tri training this summer, but I'm kind of ready for it to be over!  My running training routine takes far less planning than tri training!  After the brick, I collapsed on the FLOOR in my living room on a beach towel, turned on TLC, and passed out for an hour.  Yep, on the floor.  Even after I woke up I didn't bother moving to the couch.  My goodness.

Anyways, enough about my pathetic laziness (I think tri training makes one deserve a certain degree of laziness during the rest of the day, don't you?).  The real purpose for this post is to share pictures of my finished classroom!!  Friday I was at school from 10:30am to 6:30pm, one of the very last cars left in the parking lot.  I spent the day putting finishing touches on the room, finishing my lesson plans, making copies, and prepping chart paper for all of the charts and things I'm planning on using during the first week.  (I use charts like CRAZY and try to prep them in advance as much as I can.  Huge time saver!)

I really must apologize for the awful quality of these pics.  My phone usually takes decent pics, but in my frantic rush to GET OUT OF THE BUILDING at 6:20 last night, I forgot to turn on the lights in the room.  Um, I know.  Duh.  I work in the dark with lamps on, though, and it honestly didn't occur to me to turn on the overhead lights for the pictures!  Will you forgive me?

My decor theme this year is turqoise and black with polka dots, plus neon accents.  I'm going for soothing. :)

 Morning check-in and rest room sign-out, just outside the door.  Students will move their clothespins from the left to right side of the hanging posterboard as they enter the room--makes attendance a cinch.  Sorry, I had to cut off their names!
Thank you, Pinterest!
On the window next to my door--a reminder to the kids AND to me!
View from the door.  I have four groups of 5 or 6 desks with a gathering area in the front.  My room this year is SMALL, but it works.
Job Chart--thanks for the inspiration, Jordyn the Messy One
My teeny tiny teacher desk and happy wall.  Check out the awesome post-it board my friend made me a couple years ago!  It rocks.   
Close up of the gathering place where I do the bulk of my teaching.
I'm trying something new for my word wall after seeing Stephanie's word wall display under her board.  Try as I might, I just CANNOT keep up with writing words on sentence strips and cutting them out--hate.  This year I printed the alphabet on neon cardstock, mounted it on black construction paper and laminated, and taped them up under my board.  I plan to write our vocabulary "wonderful words" on the pages in vis-a-vis marker.  This might be a system I can actually maintain! 
Front board: Place value chart along the top, schedule at the right, reminder signs and boggle on the left, magnetic pockets from lakeshore (that I prettied-up with scrapbook paper this year) for turning in homework and assignments. 

I have little "reminder signs" up around the room every year, but this year I decided to pretty them up with some sweet polka dot duct tape--check it out!

I think this tape was created especially to match my room, don't you??
Library corner
More library and my Writing Workshop board--soon to be filled with anchor charts!
Guided Reading table  
"Affirmation Wall" above the board--Again, sorry about the awful picture.  I got the idea for this from the Clutter-Free Classroom--my favorite teaching blog.  I taped a roll of black fadeless paper above the board with teal duct tape.  I am just starting with one affirmation poster and will add (and discuss) one at a time throughout the year.  Our starter: "Everything I do deserves my best effort."
Trying something new for rest room procedures this year...I make kids ask permission and sign out, but I sometimes have a hard time remembering if someone is already using the restroom--I only send 1 kid at a time.  I hate the kids carrying passes with them, so I'm going to have them place one of the beanie babies on their desk before leaving and return it when they get back.  That way I will be able to see who's there.  We'll see how it works! 

One of my hanging lanterns--I have 6 throughout the room, 4 of them displaying team numbers.  Ugh, sorry for the blurriness!!

I couldn't take pictures of two whole walls of my room because the light coming in from the windows was making everything blurry and dark--worse than the pictures I actually included!  So I will post a second set of classroom tour pictures soon.  All in all, I absolutely love how the room turned out.  It is both warm and soothing at the same time, and the colors and polka dots just make me happy.  Happy teacher = happy students, didn't you know?  :)  

August 16, 2012

What I Learned from Wiping Out in Yoga Class

Teachers: Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win a book of tips to organize your classroom!

The scene: A yoga studio, lights dimmed, soothing music playing.  10 or so people breathing deeply while twisting their bodies into various poses on their mats.  Positive words from the instructor, spoken in a soft, smooth voice.  Then...BAM!  That would be me.  Or more specifically, my butt.  Hitting the floor--make that COLLIDING with the floor as I epically wipe out from an arm balance.  Grace has never been my greatest strength.

Not a yogi?  (Or a wannabe yogi like me?)  Arm balances are basically yoga poses that require you to support your body by resting it on your arms or elbows, or even hold up your weight using just your arms (without resting your body directly against them).  They can be...incredibly hard.  Especially if you have major chicken arms like me.  But they are a FANTASTIC activity to improve balance and to mold those chicken arms into something more substantial.  Anyways, enough explanation, let me get to my point.
The pose I was attempting pre-fall... (source)
Where was I?  Oh, in the middle of a quiet yoga class, I fell.  Loudly and painfully, smacking my hip into the wood floor.  And this was definitely not my first fall out of an arm balance at yoga.  Not by a long shot.  You know what though?  I could not care less that I was the only one audibly crashing and burning while trying to hold a side crow pose at Monday night's vinyasa flow class.  Wanna know why?  Because I was trying.  That's all.  I was going for it, trying something new and hard, pushing my body, giving it all.  And you know what?  I held this pose for the first time Monday for a few seconds before I wiped out.  And that, my friends, is worth celebrating in my book.

The thing is, I've learned a lot from falling out of arm balances at yoga class. 

You'd think I might have learned that I suck at yoga, or at the very least that I should spend those five minutes of class when other people are arm balancing in child's pose.  What I've learned, though, is how amazing it feels to try.

I don't know about you, but I frequently find myself fighting to ignore that whisper in my ear, Miss Perfectionist, who likes to tell me how I should be and what I should be doing.  There was a time when Miss Perfectionist didn't like me to try new things or to set goals that might be just out of reach.  My senior year in college, I was in the middle of applying to the Peace Corps (long story, but obviously my life turned in another direction), and I remember talking with my roommate about how scary the whole process was.  I was scared I'd get rejected and even more scared that I'd get accepted, go, and be bad at it.  I remember thinking that before then, I'd never even applied for a job I didn't know I could get.  The thought of really putting myself out there and chasing a crazy dream was...terrifying.  Miss Perfectionist preferred that I stick with what I knew, with what I was sure to be good at.  Miss Perfectionist preferred me to stay FAR away from the big, scary world of failing.
You know what I've learned since then, though?  Failing at something doesn't make you a failure.  It means you were brave and bold and daring enough to actually try.  To risk, to hope, to fight the good fight, to go for it, to chase your dreams, to build castles in the sky, to jump from a cliff and build your wings on the way down.

Failing doesn't mean it's time to give up.  It means it's time to keep fighting, keep working, keep believing in yourself and all that you are and all that you can become.

Go ahead.  Look fear of failing in the eye and say "kiss my ass."  Register for a race, set a new PR goal, decide to take on a freaking triathlon, don't let fear hold you back.  There is no shame in failure.  There is only shame in never trying.  And you know what?  You just might surprise yourself.
Perfect? Not even close.  Progress? Heck yes.
After falling out of crow pose a billion times over the past few months and disrupting my fellow yoga-class-goers, I held this pose the other day for about 20 seconds.  So, I think I will take the bruised hips and noisy awkward falls, and keep trying.  I'm not afraid of falling, because with every fall you learn.  You learn, you grow, and you get right back up and try again...

What lessons have you learned lately?

August 14, 2012

10 Steps to an Organized Classroom + Classroom Organization Book Giveaway

Read about my classroom organization systems, and scroll down to the bottom to enter to win the book Organizing the Elementary School Classroom: 100 Effective Strategies by Todd R. Tystad!

My classroom is ALMOST finished!  I'm loving how it's turning out--the "soothing" theme I'm going with this year is definitely making me smile.  I will post pictures of the finished room later this week, but first I wanted to share some pictures of the systems I have in place to stay organized.  I'm a pretty organized person, and staying organized in the classroom is so important to me.  I know I am not at my best as a teacher if I'm not organized, and if my classroom isn't organized, I feel that my students aren't at their best!  Keeping an organized classroom helps my students focus and helps us not waste precious seconds locating and distributing materials, etc.  Moving to my new school involved moving into a classroom that is much smaller than my old room, so I knew that keeping ultra organized would be super important in making sure everything FIT!  This leads me to...

Step 1: Purge unnecessary materials and files
Not pretty, but it does the job!
This is hugely important to me for a couple of reasons.  Not only does it take TIME to hunt through superfluous stuff when you're looking for the things you really need, but most importantly, extra, unnecessary "stuff" takes up space!!  My first year I had two 4-drawer file cabinets and 1 2-drawer file cabinet in my room left over from the previous teacher.  I kept them initially because I thought I would need them, and they were also full of the previous teacher's old files.  After a while, I realized that these huge cabinets took up SO. MUCH. SPACE.  I ditched one 4-drawer midway through the year and exchanged the second for another 2-drawer shortly thereafter.  This year, I went through those two 2-drawer cabinets and managed to downsize to one 2-drawer.  To do this, I threw out random old copies from the previous teacher I thought I might used but never did, ditched a few files of class sets of copies, saving only an original, and threw out old transparencies that I no longer have a use for (We are a doc cam district now!  Say it with me--No More Overheads!!).  I also transferred my student portfolio files that had previously occupied a drawer to a file crate that will sit on one of my counter tops.

Finally, I ditched a ton of old math manipulatives that I either had in excess or never used.  I was able to give most of them away to teachers who barely had any manipulatives, and you bet they were excited to get them!  This brings me to,...

Step 2: Designate spaces for materials for each discipline
If I'm in the middle of a math lesson and decide that I need fraction circles, I need to be able to find them IMMEDIATELY without looking in 4 or 5 cabinets.  That's why I set store materials for each subject together.  That seems like a no-brainer, but I also try to limit myself to one shelf or cabinet per subject.  If the materials are overflowing, it may be time to purge!  I have a cabinet devoted to math that holds my tubs of manipulatives, my Everyday Math teacher materials, and an additional tub of math resources and games:
I also have a cabinet devoted to Science & Social Studies which holds my teacher materials for both subjects, a bin of trade books and resources for each subject, my Science leveled readers, and an additional tub of miscellaneous science supplies that I have used for labs and demos in the past and that don't really belong anywhere else.  Finally, I have a cabinet devoted to Literacy which holds all of my Treasures manuals, a bin of my easy chapter books for strugglign readers, two bins of mentor text picture books, a bin of spelling manipulatives, and an additional bin of Language Arts resource books:

Step 3: Repeat after me: "Bins are my friend"
I love bins.  So much.  My absolute favorites are IKEA blue tubs which are only $1.99 each.  I start every year by picking up another stack of these babies--I guess every year I find more uses for them and require a few more!  I also love shoebox bins with lids from walmart which are only $0.99 each.  As you can see in the pictures above, you can fit SO MUCH stuff in cabinets and on shelves when it's in bins versus just stacked side by side.  They also keep materials so much more organized and make it super easy to find things.  I keep many of my recess games in bins.  Before I started doing this, the recess games cabinet was always ridiculously messy.  Now, all smaller games are in ziplock bags and kept in bins.
I also keep things like craft supplies, cleaning supplies, party supplies (plates and napkins), extra notebooks, etc. in bins in my storage closet:
Step 4: Label, Label, Label
If you're going to embrace bins, make life easier on yourself and LABEL THEM!  That way there is no time wasted pulling every bin off the shelf to figure out which one is housing your glue gun.  I love my Brother label maker--I bought it at Costco a couple of years ago and immediately went crazy labeling everything.

Step 5: Use Every Space!
In my old classroom, space wasn't an issue, but moving into the new room I knew I'd need to use every nook and cranny.  I love this idea I got from Pinterest for storing bulletin board boarders:
It was so easy to do, and you can hang multiple clips of boarders on each hook.  Did I mention how much I love 3M Command hooks too??  I also hung two of the big 5lb hooks on the opposite side of my little closet to hang my purse and school bag every day.  I used to shove these things under my desk, but hated how I'd always be kicking them all day long.  Plus, I ditched my big teacher desk for a tiny IKEA desk this year, and there is really no room for anything underneath but my feet!
I also use the space under one of my tables to store my Listen to Reading CD players and books.  Setting crates on their sides makes perfect cubbies, and sticking my favorite blue bins in them was a perfect way to keep materials organized.  The kids pull out the tub they need like a drawer, get their book and CDs, and slide it back in.
Step 6: Have a system for managing PAPERS
This is one of the biggest things I still struggle with, and I know many teachers are right there with me.  It is really unbelieveable the amount of papers teachers deal with on a daily basis.  There is student work coming in, student work being passed back, memos and notices to send home with students, meeting agendas and handouts, homework to copy, etc. etc. etc.  I have posted about a couple of systems I've used in the past already to manage these papers, and while my method this year looks a little different, it is basically the same idea.  For me, it is critical that I have a spot to organize three things: papers to grade, papers to copy, and papers to file.  It is also critical that I have a spot to store copies and materials by day for the upcoming week, as well as a miscellaneous "In Bin" for kids to turn in random things throughout the day.  (I colect homework using these fabulous magnetic pockets from Lakeshore.  I'm obsessed with them.)

This year, I was lucky to get my hands on one of those beautiful standing colored drawer units many teachers have.  I've never wanted to spend the money to buy my own, but one of my new teammates was trashing it ebcause the wheels were wobbly, and I snatched it up knowing my dad could tighten the wheels up.  I am using the top drawer as my "In Bin," the second drawer to store papers to be graded, and below that a drawer for each day of the week, plus "Next Week."

I also have a little standing file unit on my desk (that of course I forgot to take a picture of), which I bought to replace one of the larger three level stacking paper holder thingies I had last year because the vertical design of this one took up way less space.  I am using the front space to store my notebook and calendar during the day, the middle for papers to be copied, and the back for papers to be filed.

Step 7: Have a system for sending home student work and notices
I am a Friday Folder girl.  This means that I save all graded work, office notices, book orders, etc. to be sent home in one big stack on Friday.  This saves me the time of passing back a bunch of things every single day.  I know a lot of teachers who use mailboxes to house these things during the week, then transfer them to the folders on Fridays.  To me, mailboxes have always seemed like they take up a crazy amount of space.  My mom taught me this trick, and I LOVE it.  I keep a small hanging files unit on my counter, and during the week, I have student helpers file the Friday Folder papers into each student's file.  Then, on Fridays, student helpers transfer the papers from the file to the student's Friday Folder.  It works like a charm and takes up less space than mailboxes.  I keep the papers to be filed in a wire bin next to the hanging files, and the student helpers file them as they accumulate during the week.
Step 8: Organize student supplies by team/table
This tip was new to me last year, but I love it.  I noticed that it was taking a long time to distribute my mini dry erase boards, markers, and erasers every time I wanted to use them, and it was driving me crazy!  I decided to separate the boards into a stack for each table, and I started storing dry erase markers, erasers (pieces of fleece), and some regular colored markers in a tote bin for each table.  Then, I set them out on a shelf (or on two empty desks this year) so that when it was time to use them, all I needed was for one student from each table to retrieve their group's supplies.  Bingo!  Last year I also orgnaized my Treasures literacy books and Writing Workshop folders this way too, but I am mulling over some new ideas for those materials...
Step 9: Keep shared supplies together with a place for everything
I know some teachers collect all student supplies, but I have always let the kiddos keep the majority of their art materials (crayons, scissors, glue, etc.).  I do keep a supply of extras on hand at all times.  I use this handy organizer and small plastic bins/pencil boxes to store each supply and label them on the side.  I also label each cubby in the storage unit so they are returned to the correct compartment.  I also have a compartment for "extras" where I keep any extra copies.  This way, if students lose their homework, they know right where to go to find an extra!  Finally, I use one of the slots for "scratch paper," or paper that is blank on one side.  (Usually, when the extras bin is full, the old copies get transferred here.)  This is the paper I tell students to use when they need scrap paper in math or want to draw.

(The blank slots will hold "extras" and "scratch paper")

Step 10: Don't let that Teacher Desk become a BOTTOMLESS PIT
I am still learning this lesson, but I THINK I am finally on top of things in this department!  When I was cleaning out my room in preparation for my move last May/June, I couldn't believe how much JUNK I found crammed in the back of those deep drawers in my teacher desk.  Holy trash.  I found random things I had shoved into those drawers my first year teaching that I hadn't seen since!  For me, the drawers in that desk were just so deep that they were BEGGING for me to fill them with junk.  I may be organized, but aren't we all guilty of shoving things out of sight and out of mind when we have a place to shove them?

This year I downsized to this cute little desk I purchased at IKEA:
Yes, it's missing a drawer.  I couldn't figure out how to put it in...Help please, Dad...
Switching to this desk meant I was giving up an additional file drawer as I used to keep my random "teacher files" in a large drawer in my desk.  I purchased a file crate that I now keep in a cabinet for storing my files of things like staff development notes, class lists, etc.
Well, that's about it!  Now, the giveaway!
I had the opportunity to review the book Organizing the Elementary School Classroom: 100 Effective Strategies by Todd R. Tystad.  Todd is a teacher himself, and wrote this book based on his own practical experience with organizing his classroom in logical, effective ways.  Todd believes in the importance of a well-organized classroom, and in his book, he spells out EXACTLY how to organize materials, communicate with parents, implement systems like newsletters with ease, and keep your classroom running smoothly through clear, consistent routines.

This book is a quick read, and I love the way it is divided up with numbered strategies.  Tystad also includes an appendix listing each strategy by number for easy reference.  As a pretty organized teacher already, I found that I already have systems in place that work well for me when it came to most of Tystad's strategies, but I found a few tips that I will definitely implement this year.  One of these was to create an "Available Activities" anchor chart for indoor recess time.  What a simple idea, and why have I never thought of that before??  I plan to stay in with my class for part of their first indoor recess and take the time to create a chart and discuss all available options.  Tystad also had some interesting ideas for managing restroom breaks, something I continusously reinvent in my classroom.

In my opinion, the only real negative to this book is that there are no pictures.  I am a hugely visual learner and would really have benefitted from pictures of some of the strategies described.  That being said, it is still a great resource and presents a wealth of information.  If you are a new teacher, I think this would be a very helpful read.  If you're a veteran, you still might find some new tricks you never thought of before!  I think this would make an outstanding gift for a student teacher or intern!  Organization is one thing I really think you don't understand the importance of until you are actually in the midst of your first year.  They definitely didn't teach me this stuff in college, folks!
I am giving away a signed copy of Organizing the Elementary School Classroom: 100 Effective Strategies by Todd R. Tystad to one reader.  Here's how to win:
  1. 1. Be a follower of Juice Boxes + Crayolas and leave a comment letting me know that you are. (Mandatory)
  2. 2. Leave a comment telling me your favorite organizational strategy and/or one area in which you struggle with organization in the classroom (+1 additional entry)
  3. 3. Like Todd on facebook (+1 additional entry)
This giveaway will end at midnight on Tuesday, August 21st (my first day with students!). 

BTW, the kindle edition of Organizing the Elementary School Classroom is also available for download on amazon for only $2.99!  A steal!

Legal Disclaimer: I was provided with one copy of this book to read and one to give away to a reader in exchange for writing a review.  I was not compensated in any additional way or encouraged to express a particular opinion.  All thoughts and opinions are my own, of course.
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