Junior high and high school resource rooms can be very high-paced and complex arenas. Being able to manage the chaos is crucial.

These are some simple tips that can help you stay organized and keep things running smoothly. Keep in mind that, just like our students, teachers are all different. It may require some tweaks and adjustments to fit these tips into your system.

1. Create a student schedule reference sheet.

I use a chart showing each student’s class, teacher, the period they have the class and the period they are in my room. I do this for math, English, science and social studies.

I start with a list of classes organized by teacher. I insert the students’ names and class periods. I then color code the chart based on which period I have them in the resource room.

This makes a great reference sheet to help me make sure I am reminding students of their assignments as well as upcoming tests and quizzes. It also comes in handy during discussions with staff and administrators.

2. Use shared documents with paraprofessionals.

Paraprofessionals are often the eyes and ears of the special education department. They are in the classrooms every day. Shared documents give us a “real time” look at our students’ assignments. (Our school uses Google Apps for Education, but there are many other options.)

These shared documents are a great way for the resource staff to stay updated on dates for tests, quizzes and projects. They can even be used for various types of notes including behavior, attendance, and missing assignments.

3. Have a student work record sheet.

I the beginning of the grading period, I create a sheet for each student with spaces for each week and each day. At the beginning of class each day, I go around the room and ask each student what they plan to work on during the period.

I have them show me the work, and I make a note of it on their sheet. This process serves a few purposes.

First, it gets the students in the routine of getting out their work at the beginning of the period. Secondly, it gives me a record of how they are spending their time in class and may help when determining why they are doing well or poorly in certain classes. Finally, it helps me to make sure that I am connecting with my students on a daily basis.

4. Have an in/out record sheet.

I often say that I write more passes than anyone else in the building. My students are always coming and going, whether it is going to see a teacher to pick up another copy of a missing assignment, coming in and out to take a test, coming to the room for help on homework, or going to their locker to get the materials they forgot.

It is important that we know where students are, but with so much traffic, it can be easy to forget. Hallway passes are often not enough. I use a simple chart to write down what time a student comes into or leaves my room.

Just knowing that I am keeping track of when they come and go has made a big difference in my students’ hallway efficiency.

5. Be mobile.

I know the old idea of special ed was a teacher pushing a cart from one classroom to another. That idea may be outdated, but there is value to being mobile. I like to put my laptop and materials on a small cart that I move around throughout the period.

It gives me the freedom to move to areas in the classroom where students are asking questions and allows them to continue working. It also allows me to be able to use “proximity” to reduce distracting behavior. The additional benefit is that it is much healthier than sitting at my desk waiting for students to come to me.

During times when I use the cart more often, I can tell that I am much more engaged with my students. They seem to feel more comfortable asking questions when I’m only a couple steps away.