These highly-effective and easy classroom organization ideas will keep your elementary classroom tidy, organized, and running efficiently.
Related: For more ideas for keeping your teaching life streamlined, see our page of classroom management ideas and strategies.
How Can I Organize My Classroom?
1. Stop Keeping Up with the Pinterest Joneses.
Envying other teachers’ classrooms and doing your best to meet that perceived standard could keep you frazzled.
Each teacher’s classroom organization should meet his or her individual standard of neatness.
2. Invest in Chair Pockets.
Chair pockets are great for storing extra supplies that don’t fit into desks or cubbies.
When students are done working, they quietly take out a book or any other supplies needed from their chair pocket, without the need to roam around the classroom.
3. Use Student Cubbies or Mailboxes.
Student cubbies are so versatile.
Student desks can get rather messy or overloaded with textbooks, notebooks, papers, pencils/pens, etc.
Using cubbies allows more space for student materials.
Student mailboxes are especially useful for placing papers that need to be sent home to parents.
4. Keep Frequently-Used Documents Easily Accessible.
Keep student work in file organizers.
Place on a cork-type board near you desk (out of student reach) other important papers such as the school calendar, parent phone numbers, grading rubrics, dismissal procedures~ANYTHING referred to often.
This is simplest classroom organization idea to implement, and it makes a huge difference in keeping up with materials and supplies.
5. Organize with a Planner.
At the beginning of the school year when you receive the school’s calendar of the year’s events, pencil in everything for the whole year.
You’ll find doing this extremely helpful for remembering special events.
6. Have Emergency Lesson Plans.
A list of easy classroom organization ideas isn’t complete without this essential tip.
Many schools require teachers to submit emergency lesson plans at the start of the school year, but even if your school doesn’t require them, create one or two sets at the beginning of the school year.
Store them in a labeled, brightly-colored folder that’s easily accessible.
You’ll thank yourself later in the event that something does happen and you need to step away from your classroom for a day or two on short notice.
7. Manage with a Literacy Centers Pocket Chart.
This literacy pocket chart is versatile and practical.
Use it for student supplies, read aloud books, student papers to go home, teacher supplies – anything.
8. Have Your Students Pitch In.
Give each of your students a classroom helper job, and hold them accountable for doing it well.
Also try a portable bin just for student folders.
Each folder has a student’s name and/or number. When students turn in graded papers, notes, etc., have them file their own paperwork in the bin.
9. Categorize Papers using Labeled Shelves, Drawers, or a Folder System.
With so many forms and papers to keep track of, you have to make sure they’re organized.
Various types of paper organizers can be purchased easily from any office store or you can save money by using the tops of discarded printer paper boxes.
Plain or colored manila folders work just as well. Make sure to label each folder, drawer, or shelf so that you know exactly which content each contains.
Also consider file cabinets…
Make different labeled folders for each unit of study and other essential topics such as parent communication, back-to-school, quarterly assessments, running records, etc. Then place all the folders in a file cabinet.
All the math folders are grouped together, the reading folders grouped together, and so on.
When you need a folder, simply look for the appropriate labeled tab.
Get rid of any furniture, books, or materials that you for sure won’t need.
Donate it to other teachers or have maintenance put it into storage.
Use the extra space for something useful that will benefit students.
If it’s too overwhelming to de-clutter during the school year, then put this idea on your summer to-do list.
11. Assign Each Student a Number & Memorize Each One.
This simple idea is most effective for those teaching 30 students or less.
At the beginning of the school year, begin requiring students to put their name and classroom number on each assignment.
Then when grading or collecting papers, you’ll simply organize the papers in number order.
You can then easily see whose paper is missing.
12. Implement a Strong Classroom Management System.
The success of any of these easy classroom organization ideas will be due mostly to good classroom management.
It takes a team effort to keep things running smoothly.
Students must follow the class’ expectations regarding routines and procedures.
These expectations should include information about desk organization, clean-up procedures after activities, return of lesson materials to the appropriate spaces, etc.
Modeling expected behavior along with being consistent with holding students accountable will yield positive results for you and your students.
13. Have a System for Backpacks.
Have a system in place for backpack storage and use.
I have found it best to have backpacks in the hallway hanging on hooks, but I have also had success with students placing them on long window sills inside of the classroom.
This will, of course, depend on the layout of your classroom and the norms at your school.
Review expectations with students about when they can and cannot access their backpacks because if given the liberty, some will visit their backpack too frequently.
Have More Simple Classroom Organization Tips?
Classroom organization is one of the first steps to a calm and productive school year ~ for you and your students.
Follow these tips for an organized and fruitful school year.