Organizational Hacks For A Happy Classroom
It’s 3:30pm on a Friday afternoon. Your students have bounded off for the weekend, brimming with curiosity, energy, and new lessons from the week. You are delighted with how the week went, but, let’s be real. You are exhausted and ready to bound into your weekend too. Or maybe you are ready to just nosedive onto your couch. You close your door, smile, exhale, and begin to pack —
Wait. Oh no. Your eyes scan the room. It. Is. A. Mess. Your classroom library is in disarray. At your art station, pens, markers, and pencils are all mixed up. Loose-leaf papers have made a labyrinth out of your desk.
You aren’t leaving anytime soon. Hopefully you have a good playlist to help you power your Friday clean-up.
If you can relate to this scenario, this blog post is for you. Our goal is to help you implement easy hacks and organization rules that will help you maintain a clean, clutter-free classroom. And hopefully, these can prevent those Friday afternoon blues before they happen.
Let’s get started!
1. Everything In It’s Right Place
The easiest, golden rule for classroom organization is quite simple: make a home for all of your materials and make sure they get there safely at the end of each day. This isn’t ground-breaking advice, but there are creative ways to make organization easier for your classroom. That’s the key here. You want to make your labeling and storing system EASY to implement. Complicated organization systems are much harder to maintain.
So, how can we simplify storage?
Large Labels: Again, not rocket science here. We all know labeling is important. However, why not make your labels as large as possible? We love how big the labels are here in this makerspace. It makes materials easy to find AND easy to put back in their place. Go big so you can go home (on that Friday afternoon).
Color Coordination: Remember, labeling for organization should be EASY, especially in spaces that require lots of materials. For example, art spaces can get notoriously messy. Some of our room2learn team certainly have nightmares about tins full of mismatched crayons. This DIY color-coordinated way to organize crayons is a great, simple way to keep an art space clean. All it takes is a few baskets, colored colored paper, scissors and glue.
Creative Contraptions: Ok, this plexiglass marker holder is SO COOL and fixes two common marker problems — loose caps scattered around your room and the consequence, a dried-out, useless marker. This hack was actually designed and created by students at Design Tech High and gives a snazzy new, safe home for a classroom tool you use daily.
2. Get Flexible
If you’ve been following our blog, you already know that room2learn loves adaptable classrooms. In the past, we’ve highlighted how flexible furniture and classroom layouts encourage movement in the classroom and also support a Universal Design for Learning.
The same principle applies to organization. Storage does not need to be static.
Dynamic Shelves: In this classroom library, books are grouped by genre and sorted into moveable bins. We love the idea of grouping by genre, rather than author. This is a much simpler way for students to correctly reshelve books. Also, students interested in a particular topic can take a whole bin back to their seat to choose a book, rather than lingering around the shelves. This eases up unnecessary crowding!
Chair Covers: In the modern classroom, we are seeing fewer of the individual classroom desk with built-in storage. Instead, schools are beginning to embrace tables that invite collaboration with lightweight, movable desks. However, it is still important for students to store their belongings somewhere! We love how this storage solution slips easily over a chair, is easily transported, and allows students to still feel a sense of ownership over their place in the classroom.
We also scoured the internet to find a DIY solution to chair storage and found this brilliant hack!
This teacher repurposed Home Depot nail aprons (77 cents a pop!) into a flexible chair storage solution.
3. Organize Together
The last rule of thumb for classroom organization: involve your students in creating organization systems. After all, they will be the main users! Organization should make intuitive sense to your students and there is no better way to ensure that than to have them build the systems themselves.
At Brightworks, students helped design and build a simple wallside tool storage, which ensured that the system would be straightforward and painless for the people that would use it most. We love how the tools that are most frequently used, like pencils, paper, and tape, are on the lowest, most accessible level.
These tips and tricks are just the beginning. So go forth, and get organized with your students!
We want to hear your DIY organization hacks! Share with fellow edu-innovators on www.room2learn.org and Tweet us at @HackClassrooms!