These highly-effective and easy classroom organization ideas will keep your elementary classroom tidy, organized, and running efficiently.
Let’s let’s dig into it!
Update: This post has been revised to highlight even more easy classroom organization ideas and contains affiliate links. This means I get a small commission if you click on a link and make a purchase. Read the disclosure here.
1. Stop Keeping Up with the Pinterest Joneses.
I just had to add this one because I hear so many teachers comparing (with disappoint in their voices) their “unorganized” classrooms to those on Pinterest.
Yes. Pinterest is nice, and so is Facebook.
Envying other teachers’ classrooms and doing your best to meet that perceived standard could be keeping you frazzled!
It’s just in some people’s nature to be uber organized (admittedly I’m one of those peeps), but for others it’s not such a pressing need.
My point is this…
Your classroom organization should work for you and your kiddos, and that’s it!
I’ve visited teachers’ classrooms that looked like utter disarray to me, but each knew exactly where everything was located.
It was their world, and they knew what was going on, and their students knew the routines.
Who cared what I thought or anyone else?
So before getting too deep into this list, I wanted to stress a bit that each individual’s classroom organization should meet his or her individual standard of neatness.
This list is merely a few suggestions to try if you’d like to try some new things!
2. Invest in Some Chair Pockets.
Okay. So now we’re getting into it.
These suckers are WONDERFUL folks! Check out these SUPER CUTE chair pockets here!
They’re especially great for upper elementary kids who have so many supplies that can’t always fit into their desks or cubbies.
One set of these will last a few years.
I purchased my own set so that when I switched schools, I knew that I would always have them. ❤️
When students are done working, they can quickly take out a book or any other supplies needed right from their chair pocket, without roaming around.
Tripping over hanging backpacks will definitely be a thing of the past.
These chair pockets are my fav because they come in bright colors, are sturdy and a true easy classroom organization idea.
3. Use Student Cubbies or Mailboxes.
Student cubbies are so versatile.
Student desks can get rather messy (drives me crazy), or quite overloaded with textbooks, notebooks, papers, pencils/pens, etc. Using cubbies allows more space for student materials. Student mailboxes are especially useful for placing papers that need to be sent home to parents.
To make cubbies even more efficient…
Print numbers. For each cubby space, place a number and protect it with contact paper. Each student is assigned a slot.
The first student on the roster is slot #1 and so on.
Why numbers and not the students’ names? Because it saves time with classroom preparation year after year. With numbers, you’ll never have to remove them.
If having a name is really important for you, have students make name tags, and then put the name tags alongside the number. The names can be peeled off at the end of the year.
I have used cubbies for individual student book baskets, student supplies, and textbooks. The options are limitless.
4. Keep Frequently-Used Documents Easily Accessible.
I don’t file away papers to be graded or returned to students until parents have viewed and signed them.
Until then, I keep student work in file organizers near my desk.
Other important papers such as the school calendar, parent numbers, grading rubrics, dismissal procedures~ANYTHING that I need to refer to quite often~ is placed on a cork-type board near my desk (out of student reach) or placed somewhere on my desk.
Of all the easy classroom organization ideas, this one is simplest to implement but makes a huge difference in keeping up with materials and supplies!
5. Organize with a Planner.
My classroom organization is absolutely not complete without a proper planning book.
I usually ditch the ones supplied by the school district and purchase my own.
One of my favs?
I love, love, love them!
They’re full of everything a teacher needs, sturdy, and come in cool designs.
By July, I’ve already purchased mine. Then when I receive the school calendar with the year’s events, I simply pencil everything in for the whole year.
Works really well. You’ll really find doing this super helpful in taming disorganization!
6. Get Your Roll On!
Speaking of teacher organization ideas specifically, I once had a parent purchase for me for teacher appreciation week a rolling teacher bag.
It was (and still is!) one of the most practical student gifts I’ve ever received!
I can’t tell you how great it is to have this rolling teacher back to put all of your teacher stuff….grading, supplies, evaluations, etc.
Also save yourself some back and shoulder aches!
7. Have Emergency Lesson Plans.
A list of easy classroom organization ideas isn’t complete without this essential tip!
Many schools require teachers to submit emergency lesson plans at the start of the school year, but even if your school doesn’t require them, create one or two sets at the beginning of the school year.
Store them in a labeled, brightly-colored folder that’s easily accessible to those who may need it.
You’ll thank yourself later in the event that something does happen and you need to be away from your classroom for a day or two on short notice.
8. Library/Literacy Centers Pocket Chart
This literacy pocket chart is one of the easy classroom organization ideas that I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT! I can’t tell you how much I love it! Don’t let the name of it fool you. It can be used for ANYTHING!
It’s so versatile and practical! You can use it for student supplies, read aloud books, student papers to go home, teacher supplies~ANYTHING!
I have found this pocket chart to be particularly useful for students turning in completed work.
Each student is assigned a pocket, with each pocket having a labeled number. When students complete an assignment, they simply place it in their appropriate pocket on the chart.
In just a matter of seconds, I can visually see who has turned in the assignment. Easy peasy!
Hence the name, this literacy pocket chart makes readers’ and writers’ workshop much more efficient because you can organize a variety of materials/supplies in so many different ways depending on your needs.
9. Have Your Students Pitch In!
Some of the best easy classroom organization ideas involve students!
Give each of your students a classroom job, and hold them accountable for doing it well!
Giving each student a job makes your school life easier and gives the classroom a sense of community.
Also try a portable bin just for student folders. Each folder has a student’s name and/or number. When students turn in graded papers, notes, etc., have them file their own paperwork in the bin.
It takes modeling at the beginning of the school year for students to see how the system works and for them to understand how the papers should be organized, but once they get it, this easy classroom organization idea works like a charm!
10. Categorize Papers using Labeled Shelves, Drawers, or a Folder System.
With so many forms and papers to keep track of, you have to make sure they’re organized or you’ll go crazy!
Various types of paper organizers can be purchased easily from any office store (or you can save money by using the tops of discarded printer paper boxes!).
Plain or colored manila folders work just as well. Make sure to label each folder, drawer, or shelve so that you know exactly what content each contains.
One of my favorite easy classroom organization ideas is using file folders within a file cabinet.
Make different labeled folders for each unit of study and other essential topics such as parent communication, back-to-school, quarterly assessments, running records, etc. I then place all the folders in a file cabinet.
All the math folders are grouped together, the reading folders grouped together, and so on. When I need a folder, I just look for the appropriate labeled tab, and VOILA!
Get rid of any furniture, books, or materials that you for sure won’t need.
I am sooooo not a pack-rat and hate keeping stuff in the classroom just because “I may need it one day”.
GET RID OF IT, FOLKS!
Donate it to other teachers, have maintenance put it in storage, but whatever you do, don’t have it hanging around the classroom serving no purpose.
Use the extra space for something useful that will benefit your students.
If it’s too overwhelming to declutter during the school year, then put this idea on your summer to-do list.
12. Assign Each Student a Number & Memorize Each One!
I realize that this easy classroom organization idea is most effective for those teaching 30 students or less.
I’m also aware that some teachers dislike the idea of identifying students by number, and I understand their concern. On the surface, It can feel very impersonal.
However, if done correctly, this is one of the easy classroom organization ideas that will make your heart sing! Your classroom productivity will be more efficient without diminishing a positive classroom culture.
At the beginning of the school year, have students put their name AND classroom number on each assignment. Then when grading or collecting papers, just put them in number order.
You can then easily see whose paper is missing.
You may be wondering: How will I memorize each student’s number? It’ll just happen. Just like learning each student’s name. With enough grading and attendance counting, you’ll naturally begin to memorize their numbers.
This classroom organization idea works wonders! Give it a try!
13. Provide a Student Supply Station.
I’m a neat freak when it comes to my desk. I like things organized a certain way, and I’m very particular about people returning items to their appropriate place (one of my happy quirks).
But I don’t want students to feel like they can’t ever use my personal supplies.
So, I create a student station with all the supplies they need.
And it’s just for them!
Granted, they can still borrow from me, but now they have their own space.
How does it stay organized? Well, that’s a student classroom job of course!
14. Implement a Strong Classroom Management System.
I must confess.
The success of these easy classroom organization ideas is mostly due to good classroom management. It takes a team effort to keep things running smoothly.
Fair or not, your classroom organization style contributes positively or negatively to the effectiveness of your classroom management procedures.
Students need to know your expectations about routines and procedures.
These expectations should include information about desk organization, clean-up procedures after activities, return of lesson materials to the appropriate spaces, etc.
Modeling expected behavior along with being consistent with holding students accountable for their actions will yield positive results for you and your students.
15. Have a System for Backpacks.
Oh backpacks, how I love thee.
Like student desks, backpacks can quickly get quite messy.
Have a system in place for backpack storage and use.
I have found it best to have backpacks in the hallway hanging on hooks, but I have also had success with students placing them on long window sills inside of the classroom.
This will, of course, depend on the layout of your classroom and the norms at your school.
Review expectations with students about when they can and cannot access their backpacks.
If given the liberty, some will visit their backpack EVERY SINGLE CHANCE THEY GET. Set expectations, and stick to ’em.
All of these easy classroom organization ideas and tips for an elementary classroom will have your classroom running efficiently in no time!
Happy teaching and learning!
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