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Kicking the Clutter: How organized is your classroom?

Having an organized classroom is the key to a successful year for teachers and students. ~ Ranka Burzan

The beginning of a new school year can be a chaotic time for teachers. Shopping, planning and sorting piles of books, papers and other items can be overwhelming, especially for new teachers.

I just love this phrase: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

It should be posted in every classroom, home and office as a reminder of the importance of organized space.

Having an organized classroom is the key to a successful year for teachers and students. Here are the tips that might help achieve that.

Start with furniture

Start by arranging furniture and desks to suit the needs of your students. Make sure you leave enough space for students to walk around. Based on your teaching style, do you want to create stations for teamwork, small group projects or independent creative activity?

After large furniture pieces and desks have been positioned, plan the layout of your classroom. Keep the classroom calendar, class library and portable teaching boards in the most visible location. Place the filing cabinet close to your desk, not available to students. 

Classroom guidelines

Display a clear daily schedule and class rules in a visible place. Make sure to have a discussion with your students about the importance of an organized classroom. Assign a few chores to your students to keep them occupied and productive. Establish a reward system for a job well done.

Clutter-free desk

The noticeable point of any classroom is the teacher’s desk. Keep your desk organized and beautiful. Use it as a model to help your students become and stay organized. Display some pictures of your family, pets and favourite vacation to share with your students. Encourage them to share some aspects of their home life. It could be their pet, food, game, television show, or a movie.

Sort and purge

By now you probably know what you need for your daily, weekly or monthly lessons. Let go of unused and dated materials. If you didn’t use an item for more than two years, then it’s probably a good sign to let go of it.

Contain and label

Reduce stress that clutter creates and save precious time by containing all your resource material and labelling them. There are two benefits of doing this. One is to increase your students’ vocabulary, by reading the labels, and knowing what is inside.

Clutter can be distracting

Avoid covering every inch of your classroom walls. Some students can get overwhelmed and distracted with too much information. Minimize cluttered walls and maximize functionality. Give your students a peaceful and creative place to thrive in a new school year.

Replicate success

Go back to the last year of teaching. What worked well and what needs improvement. Life is a lesson for all of us, not just children.

Ranka Burzan owns a professional organizing company based in Powell River and has written several books on reducing clutter and becoming more organized. For information, go to