Teachers Get Ready For Back to School: Tips For Classroom Organization
With the back-to-school season upon us, parents are stocking up on crayons and markers, kids are excitedly choosing new backpacks, and teachers are fine-tuning their classrooms. Organizing a classroom can be tricky, but is important for school-year success! With the right classroom accessories it can be easy to create a space that is functional for both students and teachers.
We asked several experienced elementary school teachers for tips on putting together a successful classroom and staying organized throughout the year. Here is some sage advice from one teacher to another:
Get Organized Right Away
Alissa Linder has been teaching 2nd grade for 8 years, and she believes that what you do in the beginning of the year affects the rest of it. She has discovered a simple way to keep crucial information handy:
“Make a file folder (or binder if that’s your preference) for everything e.g. trainings, parent communication, assessments, grade level meetings, etc. You will have vital information on hand at a moments notice and others will take note and come to you when they have questions!”
Focus on Balancing Structure and Independence
Alissa Thomas, a kindergarten teacher of 5 years, makes sure her students understand the classroom organization and are able to navigate it independently:
“Students, even kindergartners, can become independent and will be able to accomplish more throughout the year. My students love our routines and procedures. Kids love structure. My students thrive in this environment. It’s all about finding their perfect balance of letting them have enough independence, but providing enough scaffolding so they feel supported.”
She makes sure that to label things in a way that young children can easily understand:
“Additionally, I use a lot of color-coding in kindergarten so each student is sat at a table that that has a color and shape name (yellow circles, red squares, green triangles, etc.) not only does this implicitly teach shapes and colors, all of their supplies will be color coded as well. So when then need to access their writing folders, they go to the bin color that is the same as their table color.”
Make Books Easier to Find and Desks Neater
Allison Schmitt, a 3rd Grade Dual Immersion teacher, suggests making books easier to find:
“Organize library books by reading level so kids can find books for their reading level and comprehension”
She also thinks desk organization is pretty important too:
“Have a cubby on each table for supplies and a pencil bucket at each table as well so pencils do not end up in desks or on the floor.”
Angie Taylor, a 2nd grade teacher, has an easy solution for overflowing desks:
“I love the seat pockets for student organization, makes both of our jobs easier. Everyone should have the same things in the pockets, no clutter.”
Prepare Those Labels!
Labeling is the preferred organization method for Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Szemety:
“Printing a full sheet of address labels, one page for each student, makes my life easier. You always need to label things (homework folders, supplies, class job charts, bags to hold flash cards). ”
Sherry Meinek, a kindergarten teacher, suggests an easy way to help students find their supplies: “Give each student a number and write their number on everything from crayon boxes to pink erasers.”
Second grade teacher, Nikki McCormick, agrees, and adds that it helps teachers too!
“I give each child a number and that is their number for the year. It helps me put papers in order fast to grade and put them in the grade book.”
Organization Can Lead to Team Building
Sara is a teacher with over 35 years of experience in various public schools.
“I prefer tables and chairs vs. desks— that lends itself to switching things around more easily. Each table can be a ‘team’, and the team works together to earn points for some sort of reward. Teams can be color-coded and this can be used in almost any way you want. “Team Red—come up and get your science materials.” Etc.! Or let the teams choose their names, kids love that.”
Teachers, what are your tips for classroom organization? We’d love to hear them!