Monday, August 19, 2019

Classroom Organization: PART ONE

Please enjoy this guest blog post from Central Texas Organizers... we can all learn a thing or two about letting go!  I STILL have a storage unit of teacher stuff? Don't tell anyone! 

When to Let Go
As a classroom teacher, I was always so grateful for the random things handed down to me from retiring teachers as well as the items other teacher friends gave me that they no longer used. Items given to me by friends or family who thought I could use them somehow, even if it was 200 toilet paper rolls, were also appreciated.  For so many people, giving something away is a way of showing they care, and I was always so encouraged by their desire to be part of my career in this way. 

However, as I have made the transition to becoming a professional organizer, I have come to realize that although those gestures are kind, they are often the beginning of an over-abundance of objects in a classroom which affect the students learning, a teacher’s teaching and the class’ ability to function smoothly and efficiently as a community of learners. 

In order to obtain a tidier classroom, it is important to take some time, preferably at the beginning of a school year, to go through those types of items and decide whether to keep them or not. 

When doing so, ask yourself the following questions:
1.)   Do my students or I use this regularly? 
2.)   Does it bring me happiness having it in my classroom?
3.)   Do I need it? 
4.)   Could someone else get more use out of it? For example, is the item better for a teacher that teaches younger/older children?
5.)   Am I required to keep this? 
6.)   Can I make an electronic copy of this?
7.)   Is it taking up space that could be used for something that is more useful or means more to me?
After you have decided what needs to go, donate it, pass it on, recycle it or (at the very last resort) throw it away.  Allow yourself to let go of items that are getting in the way of true success for you and your students, your friends and family would understand.
After this purge, be very selective about what you accept into your classroom and allow yourself to get rid of it if you don’t need it, love it or have specific plans to use it.
Studies show that students learn better in a clutter-free (or close to it) environment.  I commend you for taking the steps towards reaching this goal and desiring the best for your students. 

Have a wonderful school year! 

For those in the Central Texas area, please check out our website for further tips and tricks on how to live organized and clutter-free, or contact us to come to your home or classroom to help you get the space you’ve always dreamed of!

I help teachers nationwide declutter, organize and redesign their classrooms.  We work together to make their space functional, clutter-free and low maintenance.  Both in-person and digital sessions are available.  Please contact me at or (254) 300.7551 so we can begin getting you the classroom of your dreams!  

Also check us out at


Saturday, August 10, 2019

BIG Back to School LOVE from LEACH

Here we are…the dog days of summer…hot, hot, and more hot.  And yet, we are now thinking back-to-school.  Back to work.  Break over.  For so many, this is a super stressful time.  We either avoid going up to school to set up our classrooms at all costs, or we are panicking because we didn’t get it done before July ended.  We are embracing back to school because our own children are going back to school (can I get an AMEN?!), or we are dreading the start of the school year because our break is ending.  While I can’t say for sure where you are, I can speak to the ways that we can approach this back to school that will allow for some peace in our hearts. 

Think back to when you decided that being a teacher was your dream.  For some of us, it has always been our dream.  We taught our stuffed animals as little 5-year-olds.  For others, it took some time before the desire to shape the hearts and minds of littles (or bigger littles) caught hold.  Think back to those moments.  Picture yourself setting up your VERY first classroom. 

Maybe you ARE setting up your very first classroom!  If so, welcome to some of your most exciting days!  Welcome to the most rewarding profession!  Welcome to the club!  You are surrounded by the hardest working people on the planet.  And WE are so glad YOU are here.  Your excitement, your complete joy, and your energy is NEEDED!  You refresh us!  You have something special to bring to the table!

Maybe you’re setting up your classroom for the 5th-15th-25th time.  Welcome back!  We are so glad you’re here!  Thank you for the time you have already spent pouring into the hearts of our nation’s children.  Your experience is NEEDED.  Your ability to ride the waves and anticipate challenges is NEEDED.  You have something special to bring to the table. 

While back to school can feel hectic, for ALL teachers, new and old alike, Leach’s Literacy Training wants to give you some simple things to remember for these next few days or weeks. 

1.     YOU.  Your students are so, so excited to meet YOU.  Regardless of where you are at in your “classroom set up” or “first week lesson planning”, please know that YOU are enough!  It is YOU that is needed most. You are needed! Your team needs you.  Your students need you. Your community needs you.  YOU shape the minds that will be running our nation.  YOU are the reason for Meet the Teacher.  Put aside any paperwork and details that can wait until the first day of school (or even after) and just meet and enjoy your students and their families.  You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Let them know that you are there for them.  You won’t regret it. YOU are a constant for so many.  YOU are a source of safety, joy, and opportunity.  YOU are essential. 

2.     BREATHE.  While it might feel like you are trying to drink from a fire hydrant, you’ve got this!  When you feel the tension rising, take a deep breath, unclench your jaw (you probably didn’t even realize you were doing it right now even!), lower your shoulders, and take another deep breath. 

3.     FOCUS.  You are there for CHILDREN.  When details overwhelm you, focus on one of their sweet faces.  Look at the class picture from last year that made you cry on the last day of school.  Our children need you.  Choose to focus on doing what is right by children, not what is easy.  While it is hard work, it is heart work that is WORTH the work.  Children are always worth the effort. 

4.     LAUGH.  Seriously.  Take a moment to pull up a funny teacher video, a video you found online, a video of your own kids/grandkids/family that makes you laugh every time.  And laugh.  Laughter is literally good for your body, releasing endorphins, decreasing stress hormones, and increasing infection-fighting antibodies.  Who doesn’t need more of THAT on any given day?

5.     CHOOSE.  Choose to smile.  Choose to focus on the positive. Choose joy.  Choose your attitude.  Choose one that is good for you and for others around you.  Model how students should respond when having a tough time.  Model how to choose joy for your peers.  Sometimes your ability to persevere in stress is just the boost someone might need.  You never know the impact you have.  Remember that you are being watched by lots of little eyes and lots of grown up eyes.  You don’t have to be HAPPY all of the time, but we can choose to focus on the positive. 

"People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy." — Anton Chekhov

Leach’s Literacy Training wants you to know how loved and how precious you are.  We visit schools all over the nation, and we are inspired by your commitment to kids, your commitment to growth, and your commitment to your own learning. 

Thank you for what you do for children.  Leach’s Literacy Training is sending you BIG LOVE for this BIG school year!

Here’s to a great 2019-2020 school year! 



Tuesday, July 23, 2019

TOP TEN Document for the New ELAR TEKS from Leach

At this point, you are all quite aware that Texas has adopted and is in full implementation of the new ELAR standards for the upcoming school year.  There will be oodles of trainings on the new standards, the way that they’re organized, what some of the key features are, etc.  If you are anything like any of the teachers I have worked with along the way, our brains are swimming by the time we are done with all of that learning. 

Leach’s Literacy Training can relate!  We are LEARNERS right along with you, having attended a training on the new standards this past spring.  Can you find us???

We worked hard that day, working through each of the strands, looking at the differences and similarities, key changes, and thinking about what would be most important for us to help our amazing Texas teachers navigate new waters.  It’s been a while since we have been on this journey, with new ELAR standards.  And Leach's Literacy Training is here to help!

First of all, there is a little booklet that we received at our training that really is a great tool.  It is a Vertical Alignment Book for the standards K-English IV.  Do you want one of these pretty books too? You can order one here from the Print Shop at ESC Region 12! They are only $5.00!  If ordering more than 101 they are only $3.50!  

I tabbed my book for easy reference and have written all over it.  There were so many great things that we noted during the training…and all of it fits into a Reader’s Workshop and Writer’s Workshop model!  HALLELUJAH!  Go Texas! And Go Texas Teachers who are going to be doing this kind of teaching for the first time this year!  Again, we are here to help! 

After leaving the training, we spent some time reading through the standards, looking at the alignment, and we have a Top 10 Document for you for easy reference on some key things to remember while getting familiar with these new standards.  Print this out, put it in your lesson plan book, post it next to your desk, you name it.  Use these to remind you of what the learning is meant to look like when working to plan amazing academic experiences for your students!  

What have you noticed about the new TEKS? Please share! 

Here’s to a great 19-20 school year, filled with rich, literacy-based learning designed for our Texas students!