20 Secret Strategies to Win at Organization in Your Classroom

Gather ’round, friends: it’s time for the fourth installment in the instructional strategies series! This week, we’ll be focusing on organization. Who among us couldn’t stand to be a bit more organized, am I right?

Organization skills are in high demand both in the upper elementary classroom and in the real world, and is key for successful individuals. Oh, and having an organized classroom will do wonders for your mental health, too—I promise!

Between cutting down on stress, guiding successful students, and all the other benefits organization has to offer, you and your students are certainly in for a smooth road ahead. Let’s not waste any time—after all, I’m sure you know exactly how valuable organization is. Here are twenty organizational strategies for your upper elementary classroom!

Organization skills are in high demand both in the upper elementary classroom and in the real world, and is key for successful individuals. Check out these twenty classroom organization strategies!

1. Labeling System

For both you and your students, it’s incredibly beneficial to implement a labeling system in your classroom. Use concise, clear labels for not only materials, but areas in the classroom as well. This helps students easily locate and return items, reducing clutter and wasted time.

As an added bonus, you can rest easy; the research is in your corner! A 2007 study indicates that a well-organized physical environment supports cognitive and behavioral functioning in children. Besides, maybe your organization habits will rub off on them!

2. Visual Timetables

This one’s simple but so important! It’s not always one that comes to mind when we think of instructional strategies, but visual timetables are a great way to keep students on an organized routine.

To implement visual timetables, keep a daily schedule on display in your classroom. The key is that every time slot should have a visual! These visual schedules assist students in understanding the day’s structure, enhancing time management and cutting down on wasted transition time. 

3. Color-Coding

As a kid, I used to love assigning my notebook and folder colors to various subjects. For me, math was always blue and science was always green! Of course, I never thought it was beneficial. Turns out… It is! By assigning colors to different subjects or activities in your classroom, you can aid kiddos in quickly identifying materials and foster those organizational skills.

4. Checklists for Students 

Who doesn’t love crossing off tasks on their to-do lists? It’s a great way to visually represent your progress and help you feel proud of your accomplishments.

Checklists can have the same effect on students, too! By providing checklists for daily tasks or assignments, students can track their progress and responsibilities, promoting self-regulation. It’s a real-world skill that students need to learn!

5. Classroom Jobs

I always loved being chosen as the line leader in my classrooms growing up. It made me feel important! Of course, all classroom jobs are important in their own right, and assigning these roles to students helps foster a sense of responsibility and helps you maintain organization in the classroom. I even offer an editable growth mindset job board if you’re interested! 

6. Regular Clean-Up Times

Let’s be real: no one likes clean-up time. It usually means the end of a fun activity, and it’s just plain boring! Nonetheless, it must be done. In your classroom, schedule short, regular intervals for tidying up. This helps to maintain order and teaches students the importance of routine maintenance. 

7. Personalized Storage Spaces

The name of the game when it comes to organization is personal responsibility. That’s exactly what you’re helping to instill in your students when you offer individual storage spaces for students’ belongings. These individual areas encourage responsibility and accountability for personal items. 

8. Digital Organization Tools

Show of hands: who uses some sort of digital tracker? In my daily life, I use a ton: my phone calendar, Google calendar, Monday, Milanote, and so many more. It’s super helpful for staying on top of things!

Your students can benefit, too. Teach them to utilize digital tools for assignments tracking and resource sharing. This modern approach caters to tech-savvy students as well as aiding in efficient information management. Some tools, like Monday, even give you a burst of confetti when you complete a task! Very exciting!

9. Classroom Layout Planning

I’m sure you’ve got this one covered, but I’ll mention it anyway: arrange your classroom in a manner that minimizes distractions and maximizes accessibility. A well-planned layout supports smoother transitions and better focus!

Of course, make sure your students are still able to work in groups in this layout. Cooperative learning is super beneficial to your kiddos!

10. Interactive Bulletin Boards

I LOVE bulletin boards. Who doesn’t, right? Bulletin boards are a great way to liven up your classroom and express creativity! However, bulletin boards can also offer a way to organize information, too. Create bulletin boards that students can interact with, presenting important information in an engaging, accessible way.

11. Student Portfolios

This one’s an oldie but a goodie! You can use student portfolios for students to organize and reflect on their work, encouraging ownership of their learning process. It’s a good way to encourage pride and confidence in their learning, too!

12. Anchor Charts

Just like bulletin boards, I absolutely adore anchor charts. I’ve even dedicated an entire blog post to giving anchor charts purpose! These visual aids are a fantastic way to present information to students in a concise, easy-to-understand format.

Developing anchor charts with students for key concepts and strategies help support memory and organization of information. As an added bonus, they can even be displayed afterward for review! 

13. Grouping Materials by Subject or Project

Efficient work habits and organization go hand-in-hand. That’s exactly what you’re promoting in your students when you organize resources and materials by subject or project for easy access.

Besides the organization, having all of the classroom materials grouped up in one spot helps streamline transitions, too. That’s always a win!

14. Routine Establishment

A consistent routine is a key part of any successful individual’s lifestyle. To keep your classroom organized, establish clear routines for activities and transitions. Consistency helps students feel secure and organized.

In addition, a solid routine is the first step in having your classroom run without you. It’s an extremely effective way to implement classroom management!

15. Technology for Personal Organization

Technology must be embraced; it’s 2024! Nearly everything can be found online now, including planners. Encourage the use of personal organization apps or digital planners for older students, aiding in time management and responsibility. Many students already have iPhones, too—they can easily keep a planner app there!

16. Regular Reflection and Goal Setting

Growth mindset is SUCH a strong tool that I had to include it on the list in some form! A good way to get students organized is to allocate time for reflection on their organizational skills and setting personal goals. This also fosters a growth mindset, which we know is vital for successful individuals.

17. Shared Classroom Calendar

That’s right—I’m talking about technology again. There’s just so much benefit that can be gleaned from digital aids! 

Maintaining a classroom calendar for upcoming events and deadlines enhances collective awareness. When students can access a calendar from anywhere at any time, they can plan out a timeline for their goals. 

There are plenty of digital apps that will allow you to host a calendar—check with your district to see which one they recommend!

18. Resource Corner

Want to build independence while staying organized? Create a resource corner! A resource corner is an area where students can access supplementary materials. It’s like a dedicated area for early finisher activities. With a resource corner, kiddos always know where to go if they have extra time.

19. Student-Led Conferences

As a twist on traditional conferences, implement student-led conferences where the students themselves organize and present their learning. This promotes ownership and, of course, organizational skills.

Besides, you could use the break from regular conferences!

20. Mind Mapping for Planning

Teach students to use mind mapping for project or essay planning. This aids in organizing their thoughts and ideas effectively by providing a visual representation of their thoughts, ensuring they have a solid foundation for their assignment. It’s easier to follow a roadmap than it is to make it up as you go!

Organization doesn’t have to be impossible. Every classroom has its moments of chaos, but with twenty strategies at your disposal, you’re definitely sure to cut back on the discord!

Fostering organizational skills in your classroom will also have a positive effect on your students. Organization plays a key role in the lives of successful individuals… Which is, like, the entire goal! Awesome!

What strategies do you use to stay organized? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share this post with a pal!

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