Teacher Organization Tips

Instructor: Lindsey Pierron
Teaching is a profession that requires organization. When setting up organizational systems, it is important for a teacher to keep in mind the three Ps: physical space, paperwork, and planning. Staying organized in these areas contributes to a successful teaching experience.

Teacher Organization Tips

A young teacher, Ms. Bloom, enters her new classroom. She has a list of her students' names, district-provided curriculum for core subject areas, student desks, and that's about it. She knows she needs to get herself organized and prepared for her students' arrival, but has so much to do, she doesn't even know where to start. Ms. Bloom tries to prioritize, but as she starts unloading supplies, she begins to feel like she's in over her head. She asks for some organizational tips from veteran teachers, and by the time her students arrive, Ms. Bloom feels confident in her classroom setup, systems, and schedule. She finally feels prepared.

Teaching requires organization. Organizational systems vary from one teacher to the next, and what works in one classroom may not work in another one. However, teachers need to maintain organization, in order for their classrooms to run smoothly and efficiently. Classroom organization can be broken down into the three categories that can be referred to as the three Ps: planning, paperwork, and physical space. If a teacher plans effectively, stays on top of paperwork, and has a well-designed physical space, the classroom will run more smoothly than one that is lacking organization. Organizing the 3Ps contribute to a well-structured, productive classroom.


Teachers are generally busy. They have students in their classrooms all day, and when they're not with students, they are attending meetings, planning and reflecting upon lessons, running copies, and looking for areas where their students need more work, among other things. Keeping an up-to-date schedule and planning instruction, at least a week in advance, can help teachers stay organized. A desk calendar is an easy, visual way to keep track of important dates and schedule changes. Planning instruction a week in advance is important, because it encourages teachers to keep students progressing at a rigorous pace. While planning lessons in advance is important, teachers also need to have a certain degree of flexibility, because some concepts could take less time for students to master, while other concepts take more time.

Another suggestion when planning, is to use crates and hanging folders, labeled for each subject area. Worksheets, lessons, and activities addressing each concept could be kept in each folder and easily accessed. File cabinets could be used in the same way, and 3-ring binders filled with lessons in different subject areas, provide an additional option for organizing materials and make planning more efficient.

Labeled 3-ring binders are excellent organizational tools.
Reading Binders


Between keeping track of assignments and permission slips, writing weekly newsletters, grading, and all of the other tasks they are responsible for, teachers have a great deal of paperwork. It is easy to fall behind in paperwork, but some simple systems can help teachers stay organized. When it comes to turning in homework and assignments, one simple and inexpensive system involves turn-in folders. Laminate a class list, and glue it on the front of a folder. As students come into class, they turn in their assignments and put check marks next to their names with dry erase markers. Teachers could use folders for each individual subject, homework and permission slips.

Homework checklists help keep track of which students are turning in their work.
Homework Checklist

These folders could then be used to transfer information to assignment charts, which are visual tools, used to keep track of missing and completed work. It's important to stay on top of assignments and grading, because falling behind can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to get back on track.

Assignments are completed each day, in every subject area, so it's helpful to have a system to get graded assignments returned to students, and keep clutter out of the classroom. Cardboard mailboxes, available at many educational supply stores, are very useful when distributing papers in an organized manner. Another option, similar to a mailbox, is an over-the-door plastic shoe organizer, labeled with students' names. Shoe organizers are inexpensive, convenient, and save counter space, so they are ideal for many teachers.

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