Back-to-School Classroom Organization Ideas

By Scott Sterling

You probably don’t want to start thinking about classroom organization during the school year, so it helps to plan for how you’ll use your space ahead of time. Here are a few things to think about, as well as some tricks that have stood the test of time.

Keep it flexible

Gone are the days of classrooms organized in rigid rows. Now, the question is how flexible you can make your layout. You’ll want to be able to:

  • Facilitate a range of classroom activities
  • Move desks around easily
  • Conduct whole-group time in an open floor space


Sometimes, kids just want to work alone. Not only should your room accommodate that, but you might also want to invest in barriers, like temporary study carrels, that can give them some privacy. Of course, pocket folders can serve that purpose, as well.

Classroom library 

When you design your classroom library, the goal is to make it so inviting and easy to use that even your most reluctant reader wants to spend time there.

It starts with comfortable seating. Find inexpensive pillows and beanbag chairs. If you can swing it, bring in an arm chair or even a couch. Organize the books by genre and reading level (not alphabetically) to make it easier for the kids to find something they want to read.

Process posters

Think about all the things you want your students to be able to do automatically—things like sharpening pencils without disturbing class or lining up for lunch. Then write those procedures out on posters. The younger the students, the more posters you create. It’s ok if they dominate your décor; they will save you a lot of stress.

Take pictures of what things should look like

Want to keep your room from looking like a disaster? Take pictures of what certain areas should look like. Then, print them out and post them on your classroom process posters. At the end of class, all you have to do is ask the kids if the area looks like the picture.

Organize by unit 

Veteran teachers usually segment the year by well-known units. Organize all of the required materials for each unit in a separate binder or durable plastic folder; then put those binders in order. Not only is it easier for you to move through the year, but the kids can find work they might be missing.

Don’t waste space on a brag board

It’s 2015 and documents can be easily kept and shared online. Instead of devoting one of your previous bulletin boards to student work, simply make a classroom Pinterest board or similar social network, then share the link with parents and administrators. When a student does something worth sharing, take a picture and post it.

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