It’s back-to-school season, and back-to-school is a chance to start fresh and bring in a successful school year. I have teamed up with my friend to help set up her classroom for the students this fall. Teachers, like anyone, get overloaded with class items, supplies, and papers. It’s easy for things to get put into the wrong cabinet or added to the piles of paperwork.
The system I like to organize a classroom is the same system I use to organize any space. It is important to create systems that you can use year after year, which is easy for teachers and students alike.
The first step is to set up an organizing command center. This can be an open space in your classroom to prepare to layout the items you are about to organize. This is similar to a home command organization center, but instead of “keep, donate, and purge,” you will refine it to meet your classroom’s needs. For this step, categorize the items in your space. For example, “teaching materials,” “art and crafts,” “cleaning supplies, and “purge.” Then, write out the categories and tape them along the wall in the space you have put aside to organize on a blank sheet of paper.
Now it is time to pull everything out. Pull everything out of the cabinets and drawers, and place them in the categories you have labeled. I love this step because you can see what you have and really take a mental inventory. In most cases, we have duplicates of rulers, staplers, or just too much construction paper. But that’s okay, and we can take these items and put them in the purge category. Everything is pulled out and placed into categories. Your cabinets and drawers are now empty. This is the perfect time to really wipe down the space. You can get into the corners and hard-to-reach spaces. This will give a sense of revitalization to your space, knowing it is cleaned from top to bottom.
Everything is clean and clear. It’s time to implement systems. I like to start with a teacher’s cabinet. A lot of the time, teachers forget about themselves. The teacher’s closet is a personal space where you can put away your bag, water bottle, hang your jacket, and your Teacher Planner. I love to use linen bins because they are so versatile and easy to clean. The bins also offer label inserts so you can label what you have.
Moving to the supply cabinet, create a system that frequently used items are easy to reach and on lower shelves. For example, crayons, markers, and pencils can be placed in pencil holders on the supplies table. Put like-items together into bins that make it easy to see what you have. I like to use clear acrylic bins so that it’s easy to see what you need before you take it out. This also makes it easy to move, especially if you move classrooms every year. For loose construction paper, I place them in paper bins.
The fun part of every classroom is the decoration. My advice is to streamline decor by color coordinating. The binders can match the color of the bins. This creates a fun look while still keeping that crisp look. These systems will provide ease and enjoyment to the classroom. These systems can be used year after year to create a nourishing, fun, and beautiful environment for yourself and your students.