In this post, we’re going to talk about some classroom organization tips that you can quickly and easily do in 4th term. Short on time? Check out this post about how to keep your classroom organized in less than 10 minutes.

The last term of the year has always been the most productive one for me. The majority of the content has been covered. Students are working independently on projects. 

It seems like there is more time in the school day because you are not having to “prep” as much. With that “extra” time, it’s a great time to get your classroom organized.

Do a Classroom Organization Audit

The beginning of the fourth term is a great time to do a classroom organization audit. 

For this, you will want to observe and take note of what areas of your classroom, teaching space, and lab/shop space could use more organization.

To collect enough data, do this over a few days so that you can look for patterns. 

Here are some examples of what to look for: 

  • As students are working, note what supplies, materials, or tools they ask you for.
  • Do you notice students having to travel a long distance to get a supply, material, or tool?
  • After class is over, note any supplies, materials, and tools that are left out.

As you note and see these patterns, turn these into micro-projects that you can get done before the school year ends.

Classroom Organization in Small Short Bursts

Okay, so you don’t have “extra” time in your school day, but you may have small pockets of 10 minutes here and there where you can get some things done.

Organizing your classroom (or organizing anything) can be difficult to start. Too often we spend a lot of time trying to get motivated when we just need a little momentum. 

You can get this momentum by completing a small task. Seeing a quick improvement. And moving on to another small task.

So, as you think about organizing your classroom, think about it in small micro-projects instead of one large project. 

Some examples include:

  • Your desk
  • Student supply area
  • Student turn-in area
  • Where you keep your materials
  • A “junk” drawer
  • Horizontal counter space
  • Teacher demonstration area

It may also be helpful to think about areas that are natural “hot spots” for collecting clutter. (This is usually a horizontal surface like your desk or a counter.)

Before you tackle any of these areas though, you’ll want to decide what your goal is for that space. This goal is key for maintaining the organization.

Example: I want to be able to give access to student supplies (markers, crayons, colored pencils, calipers, etc.) each day and have students clean them up easily when done.

Go Through Your “Does This Need a Home?” Bin

Give yourself permission to toss all the paper copies from earlier in the school year. This includes student work and your own copies.

Paper rule of thumb: If you can find it online, you do not need a master copy.

This is also a great time to go through your “Does this need a home?” bin. If you don’t have one of these yet, get yourself some sort of box or bin where you can place items that you’re not sure if you should “edit” out of your classroom.

The idea behind the “Does this need a home?” bin is that you periodically go through it to see if you do need those items. If you are going to keep anything, it needs to have a designated home. A home where you can look for the item or paper whenever you need it.

Remember, the purpose of being organized is that it allows you to find things quickly and easily.

Keep this bin to a single bin. When it gets full, you should go through it–not buy another bin. 

Now that the school year is almost over, you should be able to decide what should stay and what should go.

Keep Your Classroom Organized With Your End of Day Routine

A favorite end-of-school day routine for me involves a box and clearing all horizontal surfaces in my classroom. 

For this routine, get a box or large container (think milk-crate or laundry basket). Set a timer for ten minutes and collect everything that has been left out on your desk, student desks, tables, and counters. 

This process doesn’t involve making any decisions or putting things back–just collecting. 

Once the timer goes off, sort what you’ve collected. Throw away what you don’t need, put items back that have a home, and put anything else in your “Does this need a home?” bin. 

To make a routine like this most effective, you’ll need to do it often, but it may not need to be one each day. Maybe it’s only when students are working on projects. Or, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Clutter causes me stress and gives me an excuse to not do other things, so for me, I liked to do this routine right after school ended.

That way, I could focus on grading or lesson planning until I left to go home.

In Summary

The final term of the year can be a very productive time for you–especially with classroom organization. Observe your students and do an audit to find out what is working and what isn’t.

To be successful, create momentum by doing small micro-projects that you can work on while your students are working. One of those could be going through your “Does this have a home?” bin. 

If you don’t have an end-of-school day routine, borrow mine to at least clear your horizontal surfaces. 

Having a more organized classroom will not only help you be more productive, but it will help your students as well.

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