I’ll admit it; I love the opportunity to organize and inventory the equipment room. I really do. An organized space helps set me up for success. Having an up-to-date inventory helps guide planning for the current year and beyond.
One does not need to stress about being an organization expert. I work to the best of my ability with what I have. I pick one area to improve upon, gather ideas for that area, and then make it happen. Do the best you can with what you have, and do not waste all your time trying to find and implement every idea. Of course, a big ‘thank you’ goes to the online community of Pinterest, Google, Twitter, and Voxer for sharing ideas. Here are my top ten tips for equipment and inventory organization. I’ve also included a free inventory template.
1. Organize by type:
I group most of my items by type. For example, the fitness equipment section is organized by type (bands, jump ropes, dumbbells, etc.) and goes in a particular area of storage. All general multi-use items are in the same area including cones, spots, pinnies, etc. We also have a “curriculum corner” where all task and fitness station signs, nutrition education materials, pencils, markers, etc. are all together.
2. Organize by usage:
As in our own homes, frequently used items are easily accessible and infrequently used items are in the back corner and take a few moments more to find when you need them.
We use an in-season and out-of-season system. Items that are going to be used for the upcoming unit are placed up front and are typically in collapsible, wheeled storage carts, like CartGo. Equipment we just finished with is put away in the back or on shelves.
3. Take notes:
To go along with tip #2, it is important to reflect, not only upon the end of each unit with regard to the learning experience, but also in terms of equipment and materials.
When putting away equipment I may not use for a while, I make notes as to what may be needed next time and what needs fixing. With that said, have a note pad and pencil handy in the equipment room (thankfully Gopher includes a note pad with each order). Being able to take notes immediately is a huge help! I then take a picture of the note and bring it back to my office to transfer to my official to-do list.
I label EVERYTHING. I use 2-inch deluxe vinyl floor tape on all tubs, boxes, larger items, etc. Every piece of equipment is also labeled. With black permanent marker, I write, “MMS PE” along with the year I received it. The year helps me know how old something is and reminds me of when to add it to the replacement rotation list. It also lets me know if an item is holding up to my expectation of use. If I bought something last year and it looks as if I’ve been using it for 5 years, then I may try something longer lasting next time.
As a side note: Sometimes you really do get what you pay for, so consider how long you want something to last. Gopher did not tell me to write this, though, I feel like it needs to be said. Their warranty is the real deal. When Gopher says, “Unconditional 100% Satisfaction Guarantee,” they mean it. This gives me great peace of mind and helps stretch my budget. I find their equipment lasts longer and their customer service to be the best in the business.
5. Think Portability:
One of the biggest helps in my storage room is having the ability to wheel equipment around so that I can change between units quickly. Look for collapsible carts like the CartGo cart or Magnus wheeled carts for in-season items.
6. Color Coding:
Being able to purchase equipment in rainbow colors helps with organizing teams and stations. It has made my lessons run more smoothly. I recommend integrating more color-coding whenever possible.
7. Storage Options:
Most teachers are not provided with a complete storage system, so always be on the lookout for good deals on storage items such as tubs in a variety of sizes, cardboard boxes, collapsible carts, wheeled carts, milk crates, and utility hooks to hang things in storage.
An important thing to keep in mind is where you will organize, secure, and charge all devices. This can be a challenge if your storage room is not set up with a charging area.
Having high quality multi-port power strips helps. We are lucky enough to have a secure storage space, so I use plastic file folder tubs with my iPads placed upside down and charge them in there. Electricity access and secure storage is an important conversation to have with administration as you add more technology. You don’t want to breach any safety inspection policies with charging cords running amuck.
9. Junk Drawer and Repair Table:
My “junk drawer” contains zip ties, cords, carabiners, clips, and those random pieces. You never know what you will need and having a small utility drawer comes in handy. The repair table is where broken or damaged items reside or where new items go that need inflation or labeling before officially going into storage. The toolbox and inflator are both in this area.
10. Electronic Inventory Record:
I use an electronic inventory sheet to keep a detailed record of everything we have. This is updated at the end of each year and turned in to the office before I leave for summer (both as a hand-delivered hard copy and as a soft copy delivered via email). Feel free to download the template and adapt it to meet your needs. You’ll also find my previous organization blogs here on my P.E. Champs webpage.
Continue the conversation: What are your favorite equipment organization tips, tricks and #pehacks? Please share them in this thread. I’ll start the conversation on Twitter as well. Follow me @JessicaShawley