Classroom organization is one of the easiest ways to encourage and promote student learning, as orderly classrooms help with focus, concentration, and engagement. Having a tidy classroom benefits you (the educator), too, helping you to stay prepared and ready at the start of every day.
Whether you’re looking to simply put things in their proper place, or create smooth transitions between activities, here are 5 stupidly simple ways to organize your classroom.
1. Label everything.
Though this may seem like a tedious task, labeling is such an easy and effective way to keep your classroom tools and materials in their proper places. Start by creating designated areas for certain items, for example, a ‘turn-in bin’ for homework assignments or an ‘arts/crafts’ section for markers, pencils, and other utensils.
When you take the time to label specific areas or containers, you can help your students (regardless of their age!) be able to identify where things go. This will undoubtedly help with transitions/clean-up, too, as students can independently pick up their workspaces before going to the next activity.
2. Use a color-coding system.
If you teach multiple subject areas or classes, color-coding can be huge. When you choose one color for a certain class period, for example, you know that any projects, notecards, sheets, grading materials, etc. will all be associated with that color and all in one folder/section.
You can also use the color-coding for your students, too, making an area for them to hand in late assignments in the correct color bin, etc. That way there’s less confusion, and you won’t have to navigate a stack of papers, trying to figure out which student belongs to which class.
3. Create a visual attendance chart.
This is one of the most useful things I created for myself during my student teaching experience. Because I was thrown into 5 classes with 30+ students in each, I knew I was going to struggle with remembering names and keeping track of who was in which period. To help, I created a seating chart with each child’s school picture printed and taped onto their seat!
This not only made it incredibly easy for me to associate name to face, but helped when I wanted to move the seating chart (I simply shifted and re-taped the photos!), as well as provided an excellent resource on the one day I was sick and had a substitute teacher!
4. Use grading sheets.
Every teacher has his or her own grading system, but one simple way to make the process easier is to create a printable (preferably dry erase) grading sheet that you can take around the room to quickly write down scores. At the start of every class period, take a few minutes to circle the room and write down who has their assignments, partial vs. complete, and who is missing. That information can be easily transferred to an online program when you have a few spare minutes, but it ensures, in the moment, that you’re accurately keeping track of and recording assignments at the start of each day.
*Tip: With the dry-erase, you can save paper! Just make sure to record the assignments before erasing!
5. Make a ‘what you missed’ sheet or area in your classroom.
Undoubtedly, you’re going to have students that forget to bring or turn in their homework, miss class, get sick, leave for vacation, etc. Instead of going over the missing assignments over and over again (and wasting your and other students’ time), create an area somewhere in your classroom (or accessible online!) where students can catch up on what they missed.
This can be as simple as jotting down some notes in a ‘daily notes’ section on an online program, putting the info in a mass-sent email, writing the activities on a corner of the board/special classroom area, or even typing out and printing a sheet you can paperclip to assignments and leave on their desk.
Regardless of which way you decide to do this, creating a ‘what you missed’ section is essential for keeping your student(s) on track, while saving you time (and sanity).
Any other #teachertips? Feel free to comment them below.