Hmmm…still debating if that title is too harsh or not?!? But today I do want to share five ways you might be failing at classroom organization. But the good news is I am not only going to tell you what you are doing wrong when it comes to classroom organization. I am also going to share some tips, strategies, and resources to help you improve the organization in your elementary classroom.
5 Ways to Improve Classroom Organization
I want to first start by saying that having an organized classroom DOES NOT mean you have a perfect classroom. Or that your classroom looks like something that could be pictured on Pinterest. I want to be very, very, VERY clear about that!
(Related: Simply Teach #31: A to B Podcast– we talk about this exact thing!)
Classroom Organization is an important part of creating the safe space that is your classroom. I think (totally my opinion here) teachers struggle with classroom organization because there is SO much to do and organization falls to the back burner. But it really can be an easy fix. With just a simple switch of a few procedures, you can implement some really great routines into your day that can help improve your classroom organization.
Also, I just released a FREE 5 Day Classroom Organization Challenge! It’s a series of emails that take 2-3 minutes to read and about 20 minutes to implement. Your classroom won’t be “perfect” by the time you finish…but you will have a start. And sometimes starting is the hardest part!
And for today’s podcast/blog I am going to share five ways you might be failing and my suggested fix!
The Problem: You Don’t Have Organization Routines in Place
Like I just mentioned above, routines for organization can be a simple way to improve the organization in your classroom. For example, make sure that you have a lesson planning and material storage routine. Figure out how you will manage papers coming in from the office and notes from parents. You also need a routine for students when turning in their papers.
Write out every step of your day. Then, next to it, write out the routine or procedure you want to follow. Then take time over the next couple of weeks to teach the different procedures to your students.
The Problem: Things Do Not Have Homes
Everything in your classroom needs a “home.” The home could be a cabinet, a box, a drawer, a box inside a drawer. When everything has a home, you know exactly where everything goes! This frees up a ton of headspace because you don’t have to think about where to put something (or where you put something) because you know exactly where the home is!
Grab some buckets, bins, baskets, Amazon Prime boxes and start sorting like things. Label them and give all your things a home! Watch this quick video on how I organize my classroom cabinets for some ideas/tips!
The Problem: A Negative Mindset Towards Organization
I think as teachers we sometimes put organization on the back burner because our priority is our students (and rightfully so!). But when we don’t make organization a priority, that will be reflected in our organization procedures. I would argue that having an organized classroom is one of the top three most important things about teaching. But, that’s because for me I need an organized space in order to think clearly. Maybe that isn’t a priority for you. But it is true that disorganization and clutter can lead to behavior issues in the classroom.
Changing your mindset about organizing may not be a quick, overnight change but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Decide that it is important! Try to think about how you feel when you walk into clean and organized classrooms (or homes, offices, cars, stores, etc.). We want to give our students (and their parents!), admin, coaches, and visitors to our classroom the feeling of a safe, calm space.
*Again! Please hear me!!! This DOES NOT mean perfect! This means routines and structures in place so that your room is not constantly cluttered with papers, materials, books on top of every flat surface in your classroom!
The Problem: You Are Doing it All On Your Own
You have students in your class!!! HELLO! Free labor! Hah, kidding…kind of! But for real, the kids spend a lot of time in your classroom too. It isn’t your responsibility to always be the one picking up, cleaning, or putting things away. Kids crave structure, routines, and responsibility. Those really difficult kids? Believe it or not, they WANT to help you!
Find ways to incorporate your students so they are doing some of the work for you! You can start by implementing classroom jobs. This gives your students some responsibility and ownership in their classroom. And, when they know they are the ones having to clean up the classroom, they are more likely to take care of it.
The Problem: It is Not a Priority
This kind of goes back to number three- the mindset thing. If we don’t believe in the power of an organized classroom, then we don’t make it a priority. If we don’t make it a priority, it won’t ever get done. Want to improve your classroom organization? Then it needs to be a priority. Unless organization comes naturally to you, you need to find time to prioritize it.
Start small. Pick one day a week to be your “organization day” and give yourself anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour to work on one different area of your classroom. I talk about my strategy for making organization a priority in the podcast, so be sure to listen to hear my recommendation.
I’d love for you to listen HERE!! I would also love it if you shared it with a teacher friend by sending it to them, positing it on your social media accounts, or saving it to Pinterest!
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Photo by Shelby Buchtien of SAB Photography
Until next time,
If you found this helpful, make sure to pin it to your Pinterest board so you can refer back to it or so other teachers can find it!