Classroom Management,  Organization

Summer Guest Post: 5 Teacher Organization Hacks for Your Space

I’m Allie, also known as The Gypsy Teacher! I teach abroad, and am currently in Tanzania, East Africa. I’ve been teaching elementary school for five years. I love helping teachers build strong classroom communities and engage all of their learners! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as on my website!

We all need more teacher organization, right? Sometimes I feel like I have all the bins, folders, and containers, but I don’t consistently use them to keep my teacher area organized. Whether you have a teacher desk, a teacher area, or a teacher table, I’ve got five teacher organization ideas to keep your space organized all year long!

Teacher Organization Hack #1: Designate a Space for Clutter

Clutter can be crippling as a teacher. There are days I sit down at my table after school and I can barely see it because of all of the papers, forms, random items, expo markers, and much more that have just been tossed on it. But there are two teacher organization tools you need to help control the clutter until you’re able to sort through it.

The first is an inbox, or “in bin” as Ashley @ Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd calls it. This year, I actually had an admin position, so mine was an inbox. But either way, they do the same thing. Whenever a student, fellow teachers, admin, parents, ANYONE gives you a paper, you put it (or have them put it) in your inbox. My inbox sits on the edge of my desk and holds all the papers that I need to organize. At the end of the day, I can file the papers into drawers and folders to clear it out. It is way less daunting than a pile of mess on top of your teacher table.

The second is a Lost & Found box (thanks to Miss Giraffe for this genius hack!). This especially is crucial for the primary grades. When I taught Kindergarten, my students would come up to me with the most random things, and we didn’t have time to put them back in their homes. This is a teacher organization nightmare! So I designate a simple Dollar Store bin as our Lost and Found bin. This also helps if you are missing a cap for something, you can grab one from there!

Teacher Organization Hack #2: Make your Must-Haves Moveable

I love using rolling carts in the classroom. They work especially well if you have a few different teaching spaces in your room. My favorite ones are the three-tiered metal carts you find at Ikea and Michaels. You can designate each tray of your teacher organization cart for a specific group of materials. For example, the top can be your must-have supplies (expo markers, pens, pencils, tape, scissors, etc.), the middle can be your teaching tools (pointers, highlighter tape, teacher math manipulatives, flashcards, etc.), and the bottom can be your small group supplies for math or reading. But the options are ENDLESS.

I love that you can move your cart around the classroom for your small group sessions, your whole group lessons, and anywhere else you may need it. It also keeps some of your teacher supplies off of your table or desk! Unfortunately, they don’t have any good-quality carts in Tanzania, but here are some of the ones I’ve seen from other teachers that give me all the inspo!

Teacher Organization Hack #3: Everything Has a Place

Yes…everything!! Not only does everything have a place, but your students, substitute, and teammates can take and return things they need without asking you questions. Having the right teacher organization storage makes your life so much easier!

One of my favorite teacher organization storage tools is this small supply organizer. It’s like a teacher toolbox but on  more manageable level. The clear windows make it easy to see what goes where. My students and I can easily get and return what we need because everything is clearly seen.

But here’s the deal: we have to actually follow through! I am such a culprit of organizing all the things at the beginning of the year  and still having a crazy cluttered desk at the end of each school day. My new mantra for all of us is:

Teacher Organization Hack #4: Prepare for Batch Working

If you haven’t heard of batch working, you need to listen to Jenna Kutcher’s podcast episode. She gives so many great tips and tricks, and even though she relates it to her business, we can definitely use this in the classroom!

Assign a task to each day of the week. For example: Monday is lesson planning for the next week. Tuesday is answering emails and organizing your teacher area. Wednesday is grading and entering them into the gradebook. Thursday is preparing for the next week- organizing centers, math manipulatives, crafts, etc. Friday is photocopying for the next week.

That way you cover everything that you need to get done each week, but each day has a specific focus. This will also help you not have to do as much work at home. I encourage you to have a drawer system to help with this. You could either have two sets of Monday-Friday drawers (one for the current week and one for batch working) or have one for the current week and the second set labeled with your tasks for each day instead.

This means that all of the papers you need to look over on Wednesday are already in that drawer so you just have to pull them out and work through them. All of your lesson planning supplies are in that drawer so you’re all set to plan your heart out. All of the masters of the pages that need to be copied are in the copies drawer. You get the picture.

I’m telling you, this will help you maximize your limited time, and keep your focus on what’s most important. It might be my favorite teacher organization hack! BONUS: Drawers hide the clutter and keep things organized! If you have class periods during the day, my travel-themed number labels would work great to label your drawers.

Teacher Organization Hack #5: Use Your Space Wisely

You might be like me, and see all of these AMAZING teacher spaces on Pinterest and Instagram. And you think, “I can NEVER make my classroom like that because…” but I’m here to tell you, with a little creativity, you can master your classroom organization and use your space wisely!

I have a couple of super tall bookshelves, so one tip I have for those is that your organized teacher supplies can go on the top two-three shelves. And the rest of the space can house student resources. Your teacher manuals, lesson planner, binders, etc. can still look cute (or not) on the top shelves in your classroom.

Also, if you don’t have access to drawers like I do, you can use folders to put your teaching materials in, and label them by subject or day of the week. Just remember to clean them out regularly and keep them in the part of your teacher area that is easy to reach at a moments’ notice! I use that teacher organization system for student work too- they’re folders hold all the papers they are working on and hang next to their cubbies. This eliminates papers in and on your desks!

I hope this gave you some fresh ideas for keeping your teacher area organized! Our teacher organizational skills are always growing, and I know I can always use more organization tips to keep my teacher space clean and clutter-free! Please share this post with your teacher friends by pinning the image above.

How do you stay organized?

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