12 Organization Tips for Teachers

Maybe you've heard me say this before, but an organized classroom is so important. When I say organized, I mean everything has a place and everything is in it's place. I mean that you have developed and created systems and spaces that work for you. I don't mean you work in a classroom void of materials, resources, or decor.

classroom organization tips
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Making sure your classroom is an organized space is crucial to making sure your sanity stays in tact. Not to mention, it will help your students be successful too. Just as many adults feed off the energy of a room, so do kids. If your room isn't organized, you'll feel frazzled and scramble to find what you need. Kids will pick up on this energy too. An organized room creates a calm space in which students can feel relaxed and ready to learn.

What follows is a list of my top organizing tips that I use in my classroom. Grab a coffee and let's get to scrolling.

I say this often, but I'm crazy serious about the importance of doing this. Making a list creates accountability, helps you prioritize tasks, and allows you be more productive. It takes the guess work out of what needs to get done.

Make daily to do lists, weekly to do lists, and even look for opportunities to set long term goals. Revisit these lists often and keep them where you will see them and use them. If you have to dig them out, you won't stick to the lists.

Some colorful pens and a pretty notepad or notebook will do the trick. OK, they don't have to be pretty, but if you like pretty things, go for it. Here are a few pretty notepads that might help keep you inspired.

Invest in a planner and use it to map out important due dates, meetings, training, and so forth. And, while you're at it, use that planner to schedule some intentional organization time. There are so many different kinds of planners out there. Find one with a layout that works for you. You may want to use a teacher planner to organize your lesson plans, and a personal planner to note important meetings and training. Decide what will work best for you, there isn't a one size fits all solution here.

This saying is everything. Give everything a home and be diligent about putting items back where they belong. It's easier to find things in the future, and you won't have piles of stuff everywhere. And it also saves you time when you go to use that item again in the future. Remember, if it takes less than 2 minutes, just do it.

Teachers are notorious for loading up their bag or backpack with work to take home. That bag goes back and forth day after day. And day after day more things make their way into said bag or backpack After a while, it's anyone's guess as to what's floating around in there. Put that bag front and center and take out any old papers, unnecessary papers, and/or other items that have been put in there and forgotten about. That bag isn't a permanent home for anything. It's a means of transporting items back and forth. Try to keep unnecessary items out of that bag. Don't load it up if you know you aren't going to do your work at home.

Many teachers display the books they've read to their class. Sometimes, the students are allowed to reread these books in their free time or during independent reading time. Sometimes, the books are placed on white board ledges and shelves so the students can be reminded of the book. Either way, once you notice your display areas are all filled up, put the books away and make room for a new set of books to feature. If you have too many books on display, the kids won't pay attention to them anymore.

Anchor charts weren't meant to stay up in one place all year. Over time, they lose their effectiveness. Once a week, take stock of what you have on display and take down what is no longer needed. If you think you'll need to pull one back out for future reference, save it if need be, but it's probably going to be more effective to make a new one with your kids if you plan to revisit that topic.

If you're worried about forgetting about the layout of a really great chart you made with your class, take a picture of it first. Save all your anchor chart photos to a folder in Google photos or Google Docs so you can refer back to them as needed.

Designate a space in your classroom where you can store and easily get to the lesson materials you need every day. If you are hunting for the math materials in front of students, chaos might ensue. Be ready and keep these kinds of materials in one place.

Seriously, you probably have some things you don't need to keep anymore. Excess leads to stress. Try to keep only what you need. You can read more about decluttering your classroom by clicking HERE. Just make sure that as you go through things you ask yourself the following:

  • Is this still relevant?
  • Do I still use it?
  • What value does it bring to me and/or my students?
  • If I went shopping today, would I buy this again?

A good place to start this process is by taking stock of any teacher resource books you might still own. Chances are, you've acquired lots of digital files and no longer need many of the books you used to rely on.

Not everyone is 100% digital, myself included. There are some things that I need to save and reuse. To organize this space in your classroom:

  1. Go through your files and decide what you need to keep. If you do have a digital version of that item, do you really need to keep a hard copy too?
  2. Create categories and label your folders/hanging files. Be sure to decide ahead of time if you're a folder kind of person, or a hanging file kind of person. Color code your folders or files. You can use different colored folders, or you can color code the labels on the folders.
  3. Label the front of your drawers so you know what's in there.
If the idea of color coding your files speaks to you, like it does me, Amazon has you covered. They have lots of colored file folder options.

This can be a daunting task, but once you figure out a system that works for you, it will be so worth it. Since this task is a big one, be sure to break it down into smaller tasks. Here's how I approach this organizational task:

  • Create folders for each subject (categorize your folders).
  • Within that subject break it down by genre or skill (Say you create a Reading folder, within that folder you might have subcategories like "Reading Passages," "Fables," "Citing Text Evidence," and so on.
  • Back up your files onto an external hard drive, Dropbox, or a jump drive in case your system crashes, you move schools, or you need to access your files from another location.
Once you organize your digital files, stay on top of it. When saving new documents, be sure to put them in their intended folders from the get go.

If you have a storage cabinet filled with special bins and containers, label them. This way you can quickly and easily find what you need. You can scan your shelves quickly and find what you need. Otherwise, you'll be going through too many of those bins one by one, and that's a total time suck.

Unless you have unlimited storage in your classroom, keep that seasonal stuff somewhere else. You aren't digging into your box of themed decor as often as you are pulling out math materials or art supplies. Store your seasonal items in a more out of reach location like a storage shelf in another location (if provided by your school) or in your garage (just pull out what you need when that season approaches). 

If you like to switch out your bulletin board border and background every month, more power to you. I keep the same background and border up all year. It saves me a ton of time. However, if I did change these things out, I would l store the items in an out of reach location like my separate storage shelf in our computer lab closet. If you're only using these items on a monthly basis, it isn't worth giving it a designated space in your classroom if you don't have the room to do so.

These are my go-to organization tips, but remember, organization is a very personal thing. We all have our own style and way of doing things. Our needs and availability of space varies greatly. Find what works for you and stick to it.

Do you have a favorite organizational tip? Share it in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you!


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