It’s one thing to get yourself organized in the classroom, but getting your students organized is a whole other ballgame! Your learners can be just as organized as you are with these simple student organization systems. Help your students organize digital and physical materials by modeling these systems at work in your own classroom.
Collecting and Turning in Paperwork
Students (and teachers) that struggle with organization often do not have a system in place. That system starts with having procedures for collecting and turning in paperwork. Follow these steps to have a consistent system for your students.
Have an Inbox for Important Documents
In a designated area like a bin near the door or your desk, have a special place for important documents. These may be field trip permission slips, office paperwork, notes from parents, or other school forms.
When students don’t know where to put these important docs, they tend to end up either at the bottom of their backpack or in a pile on your desk! Get rid of the question of “Where do I put this?” by having a specific place for these papers.
Create a zone or bin where students always turn in their assignments rather than switching it up, collecting papers, or moving bins around.
Consider adding a checklist with a highlighter with the turn in bin to check off when they complete and turn in an assignment. That way, you can easily see whose assignment is missing!
In progress Work
For students’ in progress work, try a folder in their desk or inside their cubby. For larger projects that are in progress, you may have a designated bin or shelf in the classroom.
Share an absent folder on the absent student’s desk at the beginning of the day. Choose a helper student to add the extra papers throughout the day. This is especially important during the time of COVID-19 when many students may be out for quarantines or extended absences.
Learn more about how to set up these areas to collect and distribute student work during the Classroom Organization Academy!
Teacher Desk Area
Your desk is definitely part of student organization as well. Make sure your students know that your desk is your space, and papers should only go in designated bins and folders, not just set on your desk. By keeping your desk cleared off and making time to clean it off at the end of each day, you send a message that it’s a clutter free zone and start your day right!
Keep a recycling bin by your desk and near student traffic areas. This is a reminder to document things and then discard them when you’re finished to reduce clutter.
Have a consistent file system like student mailboxes or hanging files to keep papers organized.
For yourself, sort papers in a hanging file or bins by category: to grade, to file, and to return. This will keep you organized and serve as a reminder to what tasks you need to complete.
Student Supply Organization
At the primary level, most students organize supplies in their desk. If you don’t teach your students how to organize their space, their desk can start the year messy and end the year, well, messier!
Model what an organized desk should look like and do frequent desk checks for organization throughout the year.
When it comes to flexible seating, have places like boxes, bins, storage cubes, and cubbies for students to store their supplies in while they work or transition.
Make sure you have systems in place for individual (in desk) supplies versus community supplies. Community supplies may be stored in pencil boxes, zip lock bags, or pouches within clear containers or bins in designated areas in the room.
Lunch Bags and Backpacks
Lunches can get lost and smelly if they aren’t stored properly. Consider a large bin or basket to store lunches in a group. Backpacks can go on hooks or cubbies in the classroom. Frequent backpack clean outs or checks can keep them organized and make sure you get all the materials you send home back!
Teacher Tip: Create a laminated student list with names/numbers to have on hand for checking off things that come back from the backpack black hole. Examples include turned in work, lunch money, permission slips, and fundraiser money. You can use dry erase markers and reuse this master list!
More Teacher and Student Organization Tips
Consistency is key. Set aside 10-15 minutes everyday to tidy up. Getting organized is less overwhelming for teachers and students when it becomes a short, daily task. For the busy days where you can’t even think about organizing, push yourself to take a few minutes at the end of the day to tidy up as much as you can.