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5 Ways to Stay Grounded as a Floating Teacher

Five tips for staying organized when you are sharing classroom space.


By The TFA Editorial Team

March 24, 2015

Advantages and disadvantages of being a floating teacher—one who doesn’t have his or her own classroom and depends on the rooms of others—abound. On one hand, you will never have to put up or take down a classroom. On the other, you never have your own space and need to adjust your plans to suit the teacher in whose room you are teaching. It is definitely possible to be a successful floating teacher. Check out our five tips for staying organized.

1. The Cart

Get your hands on a rolling cart, shopping cart, or large backpack to transport your materials. If you are a science teacher or use many supplies for your lessons, there will be days when you will definitely need a cart or some extra hands to help you move around.

2. Makeshift Boards

Floaters often don’t have complete access to a teacher’s blackboard. In addition, because you come to a class right when the bell rings, you usually have very little prep time, so things need to be ready to go. Office Depot sells folding dry erase display boards that can easily be used as traveling boards. You can write your agenda or objective on one side, and use the remaining sections for supplemental information.

3. File Boxes and Folders

Organization is your number one defense as a floating teacher. Get to school early enough (or stay late enough) to prep ALL your materials. Put all of your materials for each period into a multi-pocket folder so you can just pull them out without fumbling around. Organize your student work into in/out folders by period to make passing and collecting easier. Invest in a file box in which you can keep essentials like staplers, chalk, erasers, student work, sponge activities, etc.

4. Student Jobs

Students can be extremely helpful when you float. Ask them to help you pass and collect papers, stay on task, and clean up the room at the end of the period.

5. Good Rapport

It's essential that you maintain a positive relationship with the teacher who has the classroom you work in. Offer to buy Kleenex for the class or have your detention kids clean desks. Also, if the teacher seems hesitant to make a copy of the key to the room, offer to take it yourself to make a copy, or ask a custodian to help. Having a key is important, but not vital.

What other tips do you have for floating teachers?