Tag Archives: classroom organization

Tips for Setting Up Your Classroom for the New School Year

The time you spend setting up your classroom at the beginning of the year is important. For not only are you preparing for the arrival of your students, you are also preparing yourself for an entire year of teaching. You need to begin with an organized classroom which has set routines—a classroom that will be run in an educational, enjoyable, yet orderly fashion.

Setting Up Your Classroom

Your classroom must be set up so that it is functional, organized, and a pleasant learning environment for the students (see previous post,   “Tips for Classroom Organization,” for the benefits of a well-organized classroom).

The space, materials, furniture, manipulatives, resources, games, and number of students found in a classroom will vary from one classroom to the next. However, the following hints will make your classroom conducive to effective organization. These ideas will help keep your classroom in order, save you time, and allow you to become the most effective teacher possible.

Teacher’s Desk
Before you place the teacher’s desk in your room, you need to determine how you will be using it during the school year; it can be a working area for helping students, correcting papers, and working on lesson plans or simply a place to store materials. If your desk is primarily a place to store supplies, put it in a corner out of the way, far from students and movement. If possible, remove it from your room altogether. There are more effective storage bins that take up less space than desks.
If your desk is to become a working area, it must be placed where it is readily accessible to you and your students; in other words, don’t have it hidden behind bookshelves or within a maze of resource materials. Your desk must be set so that you can see the entire room and all of the students just by glancing up. You should also have a view of the emergency exit door. Placing the desk diagonally along an outside wall allows you to view the entire classroom while simultaneously providing space behind it for your chair and filing cabinets.

Students’ Desks
Students’ desks should be arranged in accordance to the grade level as well as your teaching philosophy. Younger grade levels allow the desks to be set closer together, while older grade levels need more space. Teaching with cooperative groups permits you to cluster the desks in sets of three or four. Depending upon your teaching style, you might prefer setting your desks in straight rows or groups of two. Keep in mind that students must be able to see you and any visuals if you plan on using a chalkboard, flannelboard, or eraser board. No desks should be hidden from view in any way. Also, if your school requires students to place their chairs on top of their desks at the end of the day, make sure that you allow enough room between desks to be able to put the chairs up easily. When setting up the desks, imagine that students are sitting in their chairs. Make sure there is enough room for the students to sit comfortably. Think about the size of the student in relation to the size of his or her desk, as well as the sizes of the desks you place next to each other. A very short desk next to a very tall desk may result in one banging into the other when they are opened. Avoiding small annoyances like these eliminates undue stress and allows for a more orderly classroom.

For more tips on setting up your classroom, check out How to Organize Your Classroom.

Preparing for Next Year and Summer Storage Tips

Preparing for Next Year
Although you will always spend time in the fall to prepare for the beginning of the year, it is important to get somewhat organized at the end of the year so that the transition is smooth.
1. Take some time to decide what areas you will begin teaching next year.
2. Pull the files, and take them home to begin planning lessons.
3. Have the first week of lessons planned, as well as the materials prepared, if you are certain what you will be covering that first week.
4. Familiarize yourself with the titles and contents of resource books that you will be using next fall.
5. Read books during the summer that you will be using in your lessons.
6. Organize and clean out your file at the end of the year when everything is still fresh and you remember what you needed and what you didn’t need.
7. Pack away students’ records so that you will have room for the upcoming class list of information.
8. Make up your new lesson plan book or obtain a new one.
9. Compile the Daily Task book and pull out the Beginning-of-the-Year List. Begin checking things off that you complete that are on both lists.
10. Look ahead at the Beginning-of-the-Year List and complete anything that you have time to complete now.

Summer Storage
Storage is important if you are moving from one classroom to another. If you remain in one classroom from year to year, storing your material is essential if others use your classroom during the summer or if you are concerned with the dust that might attach to your materials. Whatever your needs are, make sure you begin saving boxes at the beginning of the year so that by the end of the year you will have your boxes ready for storage. You may ask the custodian to help you gather and save boxes. Make sure to label the boxes clearly with your name, your room, and the contents of the box. Organize the items in the boxes logically—supplies in one box, books in another, etc. Resist the temptation to throw everything into one box—it will take much longer to sort through when you are unpacking.

Although the temptation is great at the end of the year to walk away from the loose ends, leave time and energy to wrap things up in an organized manner. Time spent packing, planning, cleaning, and looking ahead will save time in the future, and it will allow you the self-satisfaction (not to speak of the relief!) of knowing that you will be coming back to an organized classroom in the fall.

Time Management Tips for Teachers: Part II of IV

Part II: Keeping Your Classroom Organized 

Part two of our “Time Management Tips for Teachers” series is all about staying organized. (For tips on how to organize your classroom, see previous post, “Tips for Classroom Organization“). Once you have your classroom organizational system in place, it is important that you maintain it as if it were the health of your classroom. You must exercise the system, feed it, tend to it, show it proper care, and believe in it for it to work.

Always remember to make sure you have a chance at the beginning of the day, during the day, or at the end of the day for simple maintenance. A few simple tasks for classroom maintenance include:

  • Moving classroom furniture back in its place.
  • Keeping classroom information up to date.
  • Making sure calendars are up to date.
  • Making sure you are caught up with correcting.
  • Making sure you are caught up with recordkeeping. Try using record books to help you with this.
  • Making sure you are ahead on lesson planning. For help with lesson planning, check out ClassroomZoom.com.
  • Making certain you are prepared with lesson plan materials gathered. Use file folders to keep everything together and secure. 
  • Making certain you are completing all daily tasks. Try making a check list (and checking it twice 😉 ).
  • Checking to make sure you have a minimum in your “immediate business file.”
  • Making sure you have no mail in your mail pile at the end of your day.
  • Making sure you are updated on parent communication.
  • Making certain your files are organized and you haven’t stuffed unwanted papers into your files.

Keeping the above tasks up-to-date and maintained will keep you organized, proficient, and stress free. If you notice that you have overlooked any of the above, such as falling behind in reading your mail, plan a time during the day to complete it. Try writing it down as a task to help you remember to follow through on it.

You may also find it helpful and worthwhile to maintain a stocked supply cabinet with necessary supplies such as file folders, notepads, lesson planners, and other useful teacher supplies to keep you organized. Everything goes smoother with the right supplies, so it is always useful to have them ready in your classroom. If you are running low and need to restock your supply cabinet for the new year, the holiday gift-giving season may be a perfect time to do so. Let friends and family know if you would like any teaching materials or supplies as gifts if they ask. You can also ask parents or your school for donations.

For more tips on keeping your classroom organized, check out

Tips for Classroom Organization

As a teacher, the way you organize your classroom is extremely important. Whenever you decorate or organize your classroom, keep in mind how you can develop your classroom environment to provide quality learning.

Student Benefits
The prime benefits of a well-organized classroom will accrue to your students. Your organization and procedures (or lack thereof) are, after all, ever-present reminders to the children of how to behave, how to conduct their business, and how best to be effective without discord in a group. Respect for others, consideration, efficiency, pride of accomplishment, security in knowing what, how, when, and where to do something—all these positive elements are the hallmarks and characteristics of students who learn in well-organized classrooms. Children like a predictable, safe, and orderly environment—and they like going to a school that provides that environment. For these reasons alone, it behooves any teacher to pay close attention to good organization.

Teacher Benefits
Aside from the benefits to students, good organization brings powerful help to the teacher. In fact, it can be truthfully said that the first “aide” any teacher has is his or her ability to organize the classroom well.

The immediate benefits of a well-organized classroom to the teacher are clear—less wasted time and therefore more efficiency. Not so immediately apparent, perhaps, are the following very significant elements:

• reduced teacher fatigue
• improved student-teacher relations
• improved parent-teacher relations
• increased job satisfaction
• increased enthusiasm for professional growth
• increased student academic progress

Here are three important points to remember when organizing your classroom:
1. Create a positive and safe environment for your students.
2. Create an environment that will maximize learning.
3. Create an environment that will minimize the frequency of behavior problems.

Desk Arrangement
• Check these suggestions to include in your decision-making when arranging the desks in your classroom. Remember that the classroom is there for your teaching and the students’ learning.
• Observe how other teachers have arranged their classrooms and choose the arrangement that best suits your needs and goals.
• Desks or tables might be arranged in one of the following ways: (1) half-circles with a front row and a back row (2) in groups of four or five (3) the traditional way, with chairs lined up, one behind the other.
• Arrange your room so you can have eye contact with all your students.
• Arrange your desks so that the students’ attention is on the teacher.
• Make sure that each student is able to see chalkboards, whiteboards, and other modes of visuals.
• Desks should not be placed in front of windows. The glare can be distracting and difficult on the eyes.
• Note where the “high traffic” areas will be. Try to keep this area free of congestion.
• Students need to have easy access to those materials that will be used frequently.
• Students should be able to find their work easily and quickly to promote learning.

For more tips on classroom organization, check out these helpful resource books: