7 Tips for Organizing Your Classroom

Aloha Secondary Teachers! Ready for some organizing tips? If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time cleaning, decorating and organizing your classroom at the beginning of the school year. But, over time, papers pile up, bookshelves get dusty, and counters get cluttered with supplies that you haven’t had time to put away. Well, it’s a new calendar year and the middle of the school year, so it’s the perfect time to reorganize and get ready for Spring. Spring IS coming, I promise!

I’ve compiled a list of 7 websites that discuss various aspects of classroom organization. Take a look:

1. My favorite tip from this post by “Eat, Write, Teach” is the Absent Work Folder. When you have 130 to 140 students to manage, it is practically impossible to keep up with who’s been absent and what make-up work has been completed. This system puts the responsibility on the student to get their missed work without having to ask you. This teacher writes the absent students’ names on the papers and files them by class, but you could save a little time and just put blank papers in the folder. I also like the update to this section of the post where the teacher includes a short lesson plan summary for the student to check. Back to School for the High School Teacher

2. “Teach on a Mission” has some great classroom organization ideas including one that I have always used, the Notebook List. During my first year of teaching, I was baffled at my students’ lack of organization skills so implementing a science notebook was one of the first things I did as a new teacher. I used a simple folder with pockets on each side and prongs in the middle. Page 1 is a cover sheet with the class, student name and period written on it and page 2 is a table of contents page. After that, all assignments are put in the prongs and page numbers that correspond to the assignment number on the table of contents page are written in the top, right corner. I always kept a notebook list posted in the classroom, which was just my version of the table of contents. This list helped students organize their folder and allowed them to “see” any assignments that were missing. Classroom Organization

3. This “Scholastic” post is geared mostly for the elementary classroom, but there are quite a few tips that middle and high school teachers may find useful as well. I particularly like the Hide It Away tip. I taught in Hawaii for 13 years and I used bright Hawaiian-print fabrics (in school colors) to cover bookshelves and open cabinets. I attached the covers with heavy duty Velcro so they were easy to pull off and take home to wash once or twice a year. My classroom door and windows were always open which meant lots of dust, insects, and leaves were constantly blowing in. Yes, it was a lovely tropical breeze, but the fabric covers were a MUST and they were also an important part of my classroom decoration. 100 Classroom Organizing Tricks

4. This post by “My Chocolate Moments” discusses a fantastic system for organizing lesson plans. I always used file cabinets with box-bottom folders for each chapter or topic and individual manila folders for each assignment within that topic. But, my next-door teacher neighbor used this binder method and I LOVED it. It requires a bit of an investment to get started, but I think it’s worth it. How I Organize My Lesson Plans

5. You have to sign up as an email subscriber to receive the free PDF Avoiding the Paper Trap: A 7-Step System for Organizing Every Paper in Your Classroom from “The Cornerstone for Teachers”, but if you’re drowning in papers, do it! Angela Watson includes details for each step and pictures to get you started. Again, this will take some time and money to implement, but it will be a great investment. Avoiding the Paper Trap

6. The very generous “Teacher Vision” site has FREE ready-to-use classroom forms that will help you keep your classroom, lesson plans, and paperwork organized. Here’s just a taste: printable passes, teacher stationery, student information sheets, behavior charts, student awards, attendance tracking forms and MORE! Classroom Forms

7. My favorite tip from “Teaching Sam and Scout” is using plastic drawers stocked with supplies for student groups. In my science classroom I had 6 lab tables in the back of my room, which were used for labs and group work. My students did lots of coloring and labeling of diagrams, making posters, and various interactive notebook foldables. Sam and Scout recommends plastic drawers, but you could also use plastic shoe boxes like I did loaded with tape, glue sticks, colored pencils and markers, rulers, scissors, etc. Decoration and Organization for the High School Classroom

Let me know which of these tips you try or currently use. Do you have any favorites that I didn’t mention? Happy Organizing!


About Carla Brooks

A highly qualified public high school science teacher for 18 years, Carla's credentials include a B.S. in Secondary Education: Biology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Chaminade University and National Board Certification in Adolescent and Young Adulthood Science. After personal circumstances required her early retirement from teaching, Carla has enjoyed sharing her lessons and experience on this website and in her Science Island Store on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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