Teachers are busy people, with plenty cluttering their heads. Often, the classroom can be an extension of that problem, quickly descending into disorganised chaos where nothing can be found. To declutter your mind, you need to work within a room you’re happy with.
Look around your classroom now and it might seem like a daunting task to get everything in order, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – right?
We’re here to give you a helping hand. Here are no less than 25 tips, tricks and ideas for getting a hold of your classroom organisation and sorting it into the educational space of your dreams.
25 organisation ideas for perfect classroom management
For a tidy, clean and efficient classroom
1. First, get your desk straight
Right, you’ve made the commitment to make a real go of organising your classroom – but where do you start. As you survey the room around you, it can be daunting and leave you wondering where to start. Keep it simple and start with your desk, organising your papers and binning anything you don’t need. With one thing ticked off, you’ll soon have more done than you imagined.
2. Be clever with colour coordination
When it comes to classroom organisation, colour coordination can be your best friend. There are loads of ways you can group things by colour. From obvious places like matching pencils with same coloured tins, to assigning library books and resources a coloured label depending on the subject. Colours can help you easily separate similar resources and items.
3. Don’t be shy using labels
Speaking of labels, you’ll find plenty of teachers who frantically label every single pot, box, book and, frankly anything in the classroom. It can be one of the easiest ways to create a home for things in the classroom, stopping you (or children) from just chucking random things in the nearest space. Plus, if you pop your name or class on it, it’ll stop any of your precious resources finding their way into other classrooms.
See this example from the Average teacher.
4. Be ruthless about binning stuff
Time to be ruthless. Check your desk draws and storage boxes for bits of paper or other things that you just don’t need and get rid of it all. Setup a system that, if you haven’t used something over a certain period of time, it gets binned. Or, if you have a digital copy, get rid. Without having to wade through loads of stuff you don’t use, it’ll make finding the things you do use a whole lot easier.
5. Use mason jars for wet items
Mason jars and other old household jars are a cheap, practical storage solution for wet items like paint brushes. Again, be sure to get those labels out so the class know exactly where everything should be. Be it during or after class, it’ll stop brushes from finding themselves on tables, or worse, on the floor.
6. Get your crates in order
No matter how much unnecessary stuff you throw away, there’s no getting away from just how much stuff teachers have in their classroom. Folders, books, resources, paperwork, craft equipment, supplies. It all needs to be stored, and for that you need storage boxes and crates. Grab yourself a few and use some of the other tips we’ve mentioned (see colour coordination and labelling) so each one has a specific purpose.
7. Create a robust library sign-out system
Allowing children to take books home to read for pleasure is fantastic and should be encouraged as much as possible, but it doesn’t come without its frustrations. Books can quickly be lost in various homes, costing the school money in replacements. Get a proper sign-out system going so every book is accounted for.
8. Make a “where to find it” spreadsheet
This is one for the Excel nerds out there. Set up a spreadsheet inventory, listing all the things in your classroom and where their home in the classroom is. If you’re ever scratching your head trying to find things, refer back to your spreadsheet. It might also be worth displaying for the class as they tidy away to stop a needless barrage of questions.
9. Be brave and tackle the filing system
So, you’ve let your filing system get out of control? It’s ok. But it’s time to be brave and revisit that draw or box full of important school files and give it a proper sorting. Many of the tips listed in this article can be applied to your filing system, but often it’s as easy as grouping the right papers together in the right files and labelling them up correctly.
10. Use your wall space more effectively
Get creative with your wall space, adapting it for storage purposes. Could you create some felt pouches to be hung on the wall? They’d be perfect for storing supplies like pens and pencils, or you could assign a class member a pouch each and let them store their individual stationery items in there.
We know that wall space can be at a premium, and not all classwork can make it up there. Instead, take a picture of the best work and put it on your school website.
11. Baskets are the best
Another quick storage item suggestion – baskets. These are great for handing the class everything they need for a certain task. Chuck in the items they need for the upcoming class, and you’ll have a nicely organised set of desks for the lesson ahead.
Plus, baskets can be a nice alternative to pots and jars for storing other items.
12. Create the storage cupboard of your dreams
Storage cupboards are a teacher’s one stop shop for all their supply-based needs. Let it descend into chaos and you’ll find it difficult to get what you need for an upcoming lesson. The best place to head for tips, trick and hacks for storage cupboard bliss is on Pintrest – there’s a whole board dedicated to it.
Check out this dreamy example from Especially Education.
13. Get inventive with storage solutions
Big boxes and tubs laid around everywhere can look a little ungainly, so sometimes you need to get creative and give things a lift. For example, if you’ve got a workbench with room underneath for storage, fit a rail to the underside of the bench and fit a nice curtain. You’ll soon have all those untidy looking boxes covered up.
14. Give the room a lick of paint
Sometimes, all it takes to give your classroom a lift is a pot of paint and some love. Clever use of certain colours can quickly make your classroom feel more spacious. There’s plenty of other ways you can influence the vibe of your classroom using colour – detailed in our guide to colour psychology.
15. Get tough on hygiene
Cleanliness and general hygiene can be a nightmare at the best of times when schoolkids are involved. Given the events of 2020, it’s even more important that your class take it seriously. If you haven’t already, put a poster on the wall with all your class hygiene rules. No matter the circumstances outside the classroom, there’s no need to abandon the rules. Keep those good habits alive.
16. Label resources by subject on the shelves
More labelling advice here. Group all your resources by subject, or topic within that subject, and add in handy dividers so you can easily identify what you need and take it from the shelf. Your resources are just like any other filing system. Get them organised and you’ll save plenty of precious learning time.
17. Sort crayons, pens and pencils by colour
You probably already store your pens, crayons and pencils by type, but how about another layer of organisation by grouping by colour? With 20 or 30 crayons all sitting in the same tin or basket, it can be hard to tell how many you’ve got of each colour. To stop the possibility of running out of a certain coloured pen, paint a tin in each colour and only items of that colour in them.
We love this example from A blog from the Pond.
To get the class involved
18. Get buy in from your class
Your hard work keeping your classroom clean and organised can only take you so far. You need buy in from the kids that use it too. Wherever you can, encourage your class to be clean, tidy and organised too. Try adding small cues around the room that remind everyone to tidy up after themselves, or offer incentives to class for keeping the room tidy.
19. Employ some class helpers
As an extension of getting the whole class to buy in, you could assign some pupils special class roles and duties. Some children thrive off this sense of responsibility, something you can harness for your organisational needs. Ask them to setup tech before use, or lead the clear up after a craft activity, anything that eases the burden on you.
Little class games can quickly see your class back at their desks and ready to focus again. Play the Mission Impossible theme tune and give them until the end to clear everything away.
20. Consider personalised storage
Extend the idea of personalised wall pouches by bringing in other forms of personalised storage. Allocate each child the supplies they need for class and give them a labelled box, tub or drawer. A nice touch to this tip is how it gives each class member the responsibility of having their own things.
21. Bring in a visual schedule
Help your class get organised every day by creating a wall-mounted schedule. Broken down by each day, list the activities and subjects you’ll be covering and add any helpful reminders for yourself or your class if something important is coming up.
You’ll find plenty of nice examples online – like this one from Teaching with Terhune.
For personal organisation
22. Get into a routine – and stick to it!
We’ve all been there. You sit down and draw up a list of things to do or ways to improve, and within a few weeks, you’re back to your old ways. Ultimately, that won’t get your classroom in the condition you want it to be. Draw up a routine that will keep everything just as it needs to be – only this time, stick to it!
23. Start off on the right foot with back-to-school
There is no better time to wipe the slate clean and commit to a more organised classroom than the start of a new school year. When the time comes around once again, make sure you add some organisational points to your back-to-school checklist.
24. Try an in-and-out work system
No project for perfect desk organisation is complete without an old-fashioned in-and-out tray. In tray for pupils submitting work, out tray for work that’s all marked and ready to be handed back. It sounds simple, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.
25. Try some organisational apps
Nail your personal organisation, and good classroom organisation will surely follow. There’s plenty of useful apps you can boot up on your smartphone that will help you organise your day, leaving you more time to educate the class.
Here are a few starters: