Organizing The Classroom: A Dozen Dirty Easy Tips


Some people seem to just be naturally more organized than others. Perhaps it has to do with how they grew up.Maybe it is just the way their brain is wired.Perhaps some people are just too rushed to keep their act together. One thing is for certain. Life is much easier for the organized person. This is especially true for teachers. Teachers must make dozens of decisions daily. Hundreds of thoughts will pass through the teacher’s mind from bell to bell. For a teacher, staying organized is pretty much a matter of survival.

Can organization skills be learned? Of course they can! And role-modeling is the best teacher of all. Here are 12 tricks to keep you and your students better organized. I call them the “dirty dozen” because they are down to earth and easy. These simple tricks can go a long way in making life in the classroom easier. These down and dirty tricks will have a huge payoff at the end of a long day. The teacher will be a little less stressed and tired. (Or maybe even a lot!)

Tip # 1: A Place For Everything

“A place for everything and everything in its place.” This old saying is so simple and so true. Provide clear,colorful plastic buckets and boxes for student supplies. Markers, scissors, rulers and other supplies will stay picked-up, organized and accessable in an attractive way.


Tip # 2: The Dish Drainer Idea

This clever tip turns an ordinary dish drainer into a filing system for organizing the classroom. Use it to organize materials at a learning station. Folders go in the slots for plates and supplies go where the cutlery goes. It can even be used as a filing system for the teacher’s desk top.

Tip # 3: A Shoe Bag For Storage

A hanging  shoe bag isn’t just for shoes anymore.  Boxes of staples, paper clips, pens and much more is easier to access here than at the bottom of a cluttered up desk drawer.  Save time and aggravation. Use that bottom drawer for tea bags and snacks!

  Tip # 4: Hanging File Folders

 Hanging file folders are indispensable  in the classroom. No more stacks and stacks of worksheets piled upon a table or on your desk. They can be tucked neatly into color-coded file folders. Color code them by subject, level or learning stations. Hanging file folders can be used for lots of other things. Just look around your own classroom. Chances are, you will find more than one way to use them for organizing the classroom.


Tip # 5: Instant Listening Center Seats

Early childhood teachers that incorporate listening stations into the class room will love this easy DIY idea. Store listening equipment (tape/CD player and tapes/CDs , head phones ) inside a milk crate. Now glue some foam padding on a block of plywood or particle board that you (or one of the dads) has cut  to fit over the crate. Cover this with durable cloth and staple it down with a staple gun. The kids take off the listening station cover.Voila! It transposes into a seat. This is great for using the floor as seating space at a learning station.

 Tip # 6: Designated Pencil Canisters

A half dozen pencils breaking every half hour will drive a teacher nuts. Take control of this issue by having a canister of sharpened pencils and a canister  for ones that need sharpening. These are recycled coffee containers. Now pick a student helper to sharpen pencils a couple of times a day. The beginning and ending of the day are good times.


 Tip # 7: Self-selected Reading Scale

Sometimes thoughts need to be organized along with things. Organize free choice reading for little ones’ minds with this clever system. Teach the students to read one page. They need to have 2-3 words on that page that they need help with in order to grow as a reader. Four words are a challenge and five words means the book is too difficult.

 Tip # 8: Organizing Student Notebooks

Help individual middle and high school students stay organized. This posted display gives the contents of a well-organized binder for a course. It is a good idea to have an actual sample on display located somewhere in the classroom as an example to go by. Helping the students stay organized will free up “brain space” for learning all those difficult high school subjects.


Tip # 9: Hand-sanitizing Bathroom Passes

These coozy coolers that hold hand sanitizer  make great bathroom passes for boys and girls in elementary school. No more tapping you on your shoulder interrupting your thoughts. Kids who need “to go” simply place the correct (boy or girl) coozy at their seat. The teacher can easily spot who is out of the classroom. Only two can go at once. Upon returning to their seat, they use the hand sanitizer  and return the bathroom pass to the shelf for the next student to use. This tip also helps keep down germs and illness.

 Tip # 10: Organized And Green

Teach the kids to be organized and green at the same time. A good designated spot like these bins will encourage saving construction paper scraps for future projects.  Why recycle if you can reuse? And at the end of the day, there will be less housekeeping. The custodian will become your best friend. That is always a plus!


 Tip # 11: Checking For Understanding Board

A checking- for-understanding board is a quick and dirty way of organizing students into groups who need further instruction on a concept. This checking-for- understanding board is from a math class. There is a section for each of four skills that have been taught. Each student must give an example which shows that they understand the concept on a sticky note. They place the sticky notes in the matching sections. Now all the teacher needs to do is sort by name and skill for remedial groups. How easy is that? It is an informal assessment not intended to replace for thorough mastery testing.


Tip # 12: Organizing By Day Of The Week

Organizing the classroom by the day of the week is always helpful. A Five-tiered tray can organize daily lesson plans and materials, student work and much more. Label them M, T, W, R , and F. Once again, look around your own classroom. Chances are, you will find more ways than one to organize by the day of the week.

These dirty dozen tips for teachers will leave you less stressed and with happier students.  Guaranteed!

Leave a Reply