The beginning of the day can be a super hectic time if you are not organized. Before school started, I wanted to make sure I absolutely had this area perfected, as it is a central location throughout the school day.
We stagger our students classroom entry times in the morning. I am very luck to have enough TA's that we can each take a few students in the classroom at a time as they arrive to school. This keeps the unpacking and morning routine smooth for the students, and it also means we are not rushed and doing things for the students that they should be learning to do independently (unpacking bookbag, zippers, schedules, etc).
Students also sign in when they arrive at school. Since a lot of my students do not write yet, I have them match up letters to their names and then they are to select their lunch choice using their names. Below is a picture of where I keep the letters for each student's name. They are photo boxes from Michaels.
Once students sign in, they are to unpack their book bags. These labels are part of my Print, Laminate, Go: Cubby Area Visuals pack, and they really help my students put things in the correct baskets. I use binders for our daily parent communication logs, and send home homework folders on Mondays and the students are to return them on Fridays.
I always like to display a "work system" for routines so I have visuals available for quick reference when the students need prompting for their next steps.
Our front door has tons of visuals I utilize every time we get in line. As you can see in the pictures below, I taped off squares on the floor using duct tape for the students to stand in. This really cuts down on behaviors and helps the students know exactly where to stand through visual proximity.
Each student has a color that is used throughout the room. This comes in handy for schedules. It's much easier to keep track of a color versus a number or initials on the back. Color coding also helps the students locate their schedules quickly throughout the school day. We have 15 total cubbies, so each student gets one cubby for his/her schedule, and two students share a cubby for coats/bookbags.
In the beginning of the school year, we use check schedule cards (that match the student's color, of course) to cue the students to check their schedules during transitions. Eventually these can be phased out as the students learn to immediately go to their schedules during a transition time.
I also leave each student's data binder in his/her cubby for easy access throughout the day. I have data sheets all over the classroom in each center for my TA's and I to fill out. It's very easy to organize these data sheets in their binders once they are filled out.
Once sheet I absolutely adore is the assessment log. I keep several copies of these in the student's data binder to keep track of all the assessments given throughout the school year. Of course, I collect tons of data throughout the day and through electronic testing, but it is nice to keep a record of assessments given each month. The sheet shown below is part of my Special Educator's Everything Binder.