Simple And Effective Classroom Organization Tips

  • by Sarah Gelbero
  • Nov 09,2020

Classroom organization is one of the most effective parts of classroom management. How well you run your classroom depends on how well your students can manage themselves independently and efficiently.

This will make it a lot easier throughout the school year. Believe me!

When people think about classrooms they first think about decor when they should think about the organization. Let me put this out there, I don’t have a Pinterest-y type of classroom at all. I truly believe that some of these decorated classrooms you see on Pinterest causes sensory overload for some students.

While I do have posters and bright positive quotes up, I want to appeal to all learning styles. When I organize my classroom, I center it around special education students first, those with learning or visual disabilities, health impairments, and students with autism.

Overall, I rather form an environment that is not just pretty and perfect but where students can facilitate in the classroom without my assistance. You truly want the classroom to run itself if you are not there.

Classroom Organization Tips

The pictures below are of my own classroom from the 2018-2019 school year. My classroom organization is made for an effective student-centered classroom. Where students can be accountable and take ownership of their learning.

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Seating Layout with Desks

The photo above is the classroom layout at the end of the school year. I purposefully put us in this discussion format while we read The Outsiders. The students loved it. This desk layout was our 4th (for every quarter) change for the year. We have been in rows, groups, and doubles like the photo below.

Individual Reading/Work Area

Every Friday students get to silent read a book of their choosing. While students can sit anywhere in the classroom, some like to come back to the library area to read after their classwork is complete. Other times, students ask for permission to sit in the back to work on individual assignments.

Positive Affirmations

I found these positive notes online years ago but can no longer find them. So I’m working on making my own to give out to teachers! When students are daydreaming (because we all do) I wanted to give them something positive to think about.

No Name Area

Always make sure to have a no name area for your students. I usually use a folder but decided to do something this year to make it more visual.

Assignment Turn-in Area

Always have an assignment turn-in area. If not, students will still try to lay it on your desk or give it to you but with using some sort of turn-in tray or basket it will give students accountability. I also started using a “late” turn-in tray. If I notice an assignment is in the late tray, then I will pick it up and try to grade it as soon as possible.

Refocus/Reflection Table

When I use to substitute teach, one district I worked for used a “Refocus” form. The student would go to the classroom next door and fill out the form. I thought the idea was essentially great but the process was disruptive to the other classroom. I decided to make a refocus form a “brain break” area. Students can spend 5-10 minutes coloring, filling out a refocus/reflection form, or just spend some time writing.

Student News Bulletin w/Student Files and Notebooks

This is where I house all student classroom folders and notebook/journals. Every handout I give to students goes into the folder. They are not required to do homework so this helps them not lose any papers or say they left it at home. When students come in they are responsible for picking up their classroom folder and journal and being ready for class to begin.

Daily Agenda/Objective/Important Upcoming Dates

Have you heard, “What are we doing today?” The classroom agenda will limit this question and when they do ask, all you have to do is point to the board. Same with, “When is the assembly?” or “What is the date?” Keeping these simple things on the board will keep you from pulling your hair out.

Calm Lighting

I use a corner lamp and only turn on one large overhead classroom light. I have heard wonderful feedback on my classroom with this change. Students and observers say it is very welcoming and seems to have a calming effect. I try to keep it simple, not too much and not too little.

Area for Extra Handouts and for Absent Students

The absent trays are essential for giving your students responsibility and accountability. When a student is absent, I write their name on the handout and put it in the day of the week they were absent.

The next time they are present in class they check the tray for their handout and are ready to start class. The area next to the absent trays or where I put extra copies for students that may have lost theirs. I keep all the materials there for an entire quarter.

Student Area for Pencils, Stapler, Paper, Hole Punch, Pencil Sharpener, Scissors

This is the student only area-a must have for any classroom. This will limit students trying to use your materials at your desk and it should include basic daily classroom materials. The “Thought Box” is a question box. Students will put personal questions in the box anonymously and I will answer them to each class every Friday.

Sometimes I have a lot of questions, sometimes I won’t have any for weeks. Since I teach middle school, the biggest question I get asked: How do I get a boyfriend/girlfriend?

Final Thoughts

The upcoming school year I’m moving to a new school which means a new classroom. It will be my 5th classroom that I will have the opportunity to make my own.

I hope these classroom organization tips help you and if you have any to add, please leave them in the comment section below. I’m always open to new ideas.

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