Ah, organization. It’s a coveted state, that’s for sure. But getting there can be far from easy. How do you start? Where do you start? Read on as six Teacher-Authors talk through the methods they employ to keep their middle and high school classrooms super neat and organized.


Eye-Catching Color

“I use color in everything I do. I find color is a quick, visual discernment for the brain so I use color to represent each one of my class periods or subjects. I then use that color throughout my classroom for everything. From student files to reward jars to absentee work, and all the labeling in my room, everything is in that class color. It lets me tell at just a glance who needs a paper, who is late with an assignment, and when a particular class has a project due.” – The Colorado Classroom

Color coding your classroom can help you work more effectively. Here, this teacher has color-coded her whiteboard schedule.


Phenomenal Plastic Trays

“I must say that my favorite organizational tools are my plastic trays that I use for labs. I’m the only Science teacher in the school, so it does get a bit chaotic when I have a lot of labs planned for one week. I use these trays to set up the equipment and chemicals that each group requires. At the end of the session, it’s easy to clean-up and I can bring out the next set of trays for my next group.” – The Lab
Plastic trays are a great way to stay organized, especially for science labs.


Lovely Labels

“Put labels on your boxes, tubs, bins, drawers, and more! This way, you’ll quickly know what’s in it — and you won’t have to open every container to find what you’re looking for.” – Misty Miller

Labeling your filing drawers will make it much easier to find what you're looking for.

Even if you only have a few bins to label, like this stack of staples, paper clips, and binder clips, having each clearly marked will help you find what you need immediately.


Fantastic File Folders

“I can’t live without colored file folders! I used them in several ways when I was a classroom teacher: Students kept their in-progress and finished writing work in them; each grade had a different color. (As an ESL teacher, I taught four to six grade levels every year.) I gave each student one folder to use for homework so assignments wouldn’t get lost; students could choose which color they wanted and could decorate their folder however they wished.

I stored ESL forms, papers, and report cards in color-coded folders and kept them in a bookshelf near my desk or in a file cabinet for easy access. I used more folders to store miscellaneous paperwork, notes, and articles of interest; those were either in plastic magazine holders on my desk or in my file cabinet. My desk usually had piles of papers and folders all over it but because the folders were in different colors, I knew exactly what they were and could find them easily. For educators who have to deal with lots of papers — and, let’s face it, what educator doesn’t? — you can’t go wrong with using colored file folders to organize your paperwork! I wrote a blog post about my favorite classroom tools, and the first one I mentioned is file folders. You can read about it and my other essential tools here.” – The ESL Nexus

Colored filing folders are another great way to use color-coding to stay organized, no matter how many classes you're teaching.


Great Grading Sheets

“As an English teacher, I have to keep the assessment and feedback cycle clear for myself or I won’t be as effective (or timely!) for students. I use my grading sheets as a cover page for each assignment to not only track work that is turned in or late, but what steps I need to take to intervene with each student, who deserves a shout-out, or how I’m going to respond next after that assessment. These forms have made a visible improvement in the way I give feedback to student writing!” – Secondary Sara

This teacher uses grading sheets as cover pages for each student's assignment so that it's clear what the next steps are for student and teacher.


Amazing “Absent Slips”

“I found myself staying after school late every day, checking my class lists to remind myself who was out and making note of what they needed to make up. It was time-consuming, and I felt disorganized. Then I decided to enlist the help of my students. Here’s how it works: I create the ‘While You Were Out’ bulletin board and absent slips. My students sit in pairs the majority of the time in my classroom so if someone’s partner is out, I ask him or her to fill out an absent slip, collect any handouts received in class, and pin the papers to the bulletin board. The absent slip summarizes the objective, agenda, and homework for the day so students know exactly what they missed and what they need to make up. Upon their return to school, students then retrieve the papers from the bulletin board and check in with me only to determine a timeline for completion. This process keeps students who have been absent organized and has been a big time-saver for me. You can read more about it here.” – Free to Discover

Absent slips are great to use, especially if your students sit in pairs or groups. This way, if a student is absent, one of their partners can claim a slip and share the assignments with their classmate later.

Here’s to great organization and how darn good it makes us feel!


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