Getting your classroom organized starts with, well, your physical classroom itself! There’s so much talk about digital and online organization today, but first, you have to start organizing your physical space. Here are some tips to get your physical classroom organized to have a productive work environment for you and your students all year.
Teacher Tip: Take before pictures to see your progress throughout your organization transformation.
I can’t tell you how many times I have made a huge change in my classroom decor or implemented a new organization system and wished for that “before” shot. Take those pictures so you can really see the changes and the progress you made. It’s incredibly motivating, and it is nice to show off on your social media. We need to brag about the great things we do in the classroom more often!
Conquer the Clutter
First, start by conquering all the classroom clutter! If you’ve been teaching more than a few years, you’ve accumulated some “stuff”. You know, that stuff you collect in hopes of using it one day with your students. I’m looking at you Dollar Spot mini erasers!! Well, one of the first steps in organizing your physical space is to conquer the clutter. Here are some tips to tackle all the stuff that quickly piles up in your classroom.
Take an inventory.
To begin, look through your piles, boxes, and surfaces to see what you have. First, ask yourself, “What you’ve used in the past school year or haven’t you used? Are there items overflowing in storage areas? What do you have too much of?”
Create a list of zones you want to tackle and declutter.
Rather than declutter the whole room at once, zero in on the top trouble zones. Focus on one a week for the remainder of the school year. Also, if you get ambitious or have time, add another.
Grab trash bags, boxes, and some cleaning supplies.
Don’t be afraid to throw away! While you’re decluttering, you might as well deep clean. Of course, I know your custodial staff does a great job, but it’s hard to clean under piles of papers, right? Get down to the surfaces and tidy up.
Decide where to put the things you don’t want anymore.
Don’t just leave everything in piles. All of your items should have a forever place!
- Trash it: Have a trash can right next to you as you declutter.
- Recycle it: Make sure the recycling bin is near your desk. You may want to put an extra where the students discard papers and materials.
- Donate it to other teachers/student teachers: Many schools have a giveaway table in the teacher’s lounge. Otherwise, you can send out an all staff email letting them know what you have available.
- Try and sell it online locally-FB Marketplace, Craigslist, Next Door: Have some items you paid a pretty penny for? Safely list online. With so many families homeschooling during the pandemic, teacher materials are going fast!
Decide what to get rid of.
As you’re going through clutter, decide what to keep and want to get rid of. This can be difficult as a teacher. There are sentimental items or things you may wonder if you’ll ever use again. Don’t overthink it! Here are some questions to help you decide what to keep and want to pass on (or trash).
- Have you used it this year?
- Does it pertain to your grade level?
- Is it taking up a lot of space that you can use in the classroom?
- Will it end up hidden or back in a cabinet or closet?
- Is it required to keep in your classroom?
- Do I have a copy of it online (Drive, Dropbox, TpT)?
Overall, these questions can help you alleviate some of the stress of letting things go.
Work on ONE area or zone at a time.
Remember, you don’t have to finish organizing your physical space in a single day. Tackle one zone or area at a time. Make a list of some of the big problem/clutter areas in your room. Measure drawers or cabinet spaces to have dimensions for bins, boxes, and tubs, that can contain supplies in that area to maximize your space. Below I listed some common areas you may want to get started on first:
Library area: Organize books by content, genre, reading level, or interest.
Cabinets: For items that aren’t used every day but are still needed, cabinets are a good place to keep materials out of sight.
Teacher desk: A tidy desk will help you feel organized every day. Use your desk as a work station rather than a storage area.
File cabinets: Keep only needed papers. Most things are digital today!
Technology stuff: Find a way to organize cords, chargers, adapters, etc. with zip ties or storage bins.
Drawers: Keep the drawers organized with inserts or little containers. Don’t let there be a junk drawer for all the stuff you don’t know where to store. Either find a place for it all or toss it. Byeeee!
What tips do you use to keep your classroom organized?