Classroom Organization classroom_management.gif

These are the goals:
  • maximizing the amount of learning
  • minimizing the frequency of behavior problems
  • creating a positive and safe environment

Classroom Arrangement Suggestions

  • Students should be seated so that their attention is directed toward the teacher.
  • Students should be able to clearly see chalkboards, screens, presentations and displays.
  • Students should face the front of the room and away from windows.
  • High traffic areas should be free of congestion.
  • Students should be seated so that teachers can see all students at all times. Adults in the classroom provide monitoring and attention to students. It is important that all students are within the view of the teacher at all times.
  • Students should be seated so that teachers can easily move among students to monitor work and behavior.
  • Classroom rules should be clearly posted.
  • The teacher should have a place near the front of the room so that learning materials can be organized and available prior to the lesson.
  • Areas should be established to display student work.
  • Students should be able to quickly and easily find their work and begin working.
  • Students should have easy access to frequently used materials.
  • Separate student materials from teacher materials.

Student Materials:

The following examples provide some ideas for organizing student materials. Student work may be stored and organized in various ways. It is important to teach students early the importance of organization and make them responsible for as much of their organization as possible. Granted, no matter how hard teachers may try, some students are not good organizers. Ideas to help students may include:
· Student folders arranged by subject stored in their cubbies or in a file in a certain place in the room that is accessible to students.
  • Tubs or containers labeled with student names for them to store their work in when it is in progress.
  • Trays for turning work in to the teacher are important for students to use when an assignment has been completed.
  • Supplies such as scissors, glue, crayons, etc. can be kept in labeled bins. Storing materials in these bins keeps them organized for when you need to use them.

Manage Materials Effectively

The handling and distribution of materials in the classroom can take a significant amount of time. The following are suggestions for establishing strategies for making the distribution of materials more efficient:
  • Prepare materials ahead of time.
  • Develop places for convenient storage of frequently used materials.
  • Establish and practice procedures for handing out and picking up learning materials and student papers. For example, one student from each row might be assigned to pick up materials and distribute them to the other students in the row. This causes less traffic and confusion than all students going at once to pick up materials and uses less time than having the teacher distribute all materials. It is important that the student be taught to follow this procedure and have ample opportunity to practice carrying it out correctly.

3rd Grade Paper Management

Develop supplementary materials (backup materials should be available for activities that finish early or are ineffective). Supplementary materials might include alternative instructional activities, engaging activities, centers and learning materials, or relevant instructional games.

Check out this link!!!

100 Classroom Organizing Tips

Attendance Tips

Secret Chair
From Yolanda Raman, a second grade bilingual Spanish teacher
at McKinley Elementary School in Stockton, California:
"I drew a poster with a cartoon of an empty chair entitled, 'Secret Chair'. Sometimes before class starts, I randomly select a chair and place a sticker underneath it. When the students enter and see the Secret Chair poster in its designated place, they know to check their chairs. Whoever has the sticker gets to go to the treasure box and select a prize. If the student who has the sticker is absent he/she does not get a prize and the others tell the student the next day. Thanks to the 'Secret Chair' attendance has been great!"

Pocket Attendance
From Karen Reynolds, a vocal music teacher at Tri County High School in DeWitt, Nebraska:
"I quickly take attendance by using a pocket chart. I write each student's name on both sides of a card in two different colors. As the students walk in, they flip their name card over. I know which students are absent because their names are in a different color. Writing the names on both sides in two different colors eliminates the need for me to switch all the cards over each day because I only need to turn over the cards of those students who were absent. I color code the heading at the top of the chart so that students who can't remember whether or not they switched their name can see what color it's supposed to be."

Kindergarten Attendance Strategy

Clothes Pins I
From Beverly Tihansky, a sixth grade language arts and math teacher
at Nitschmann Middle School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania:
"I find time management in my classroom essential. I try to make short work of many tasks. To shorten attendance, my homeroom students enter my room and take their own attendance. I have placed an empty coffee can on a desk as they enter the room. Clothes pins are placed around the rim, each containing the name of one of the students. As they enter they drop their pin in the coffee can. Within minutes I can tell which students are absent."

Clothes Pins II
From Sally E. Dunham, a sixth grade teacher at Mickle Middle School in Lincoln, Nebraska:
"For attendance, I use clip-type clothes pins with students' names and desk numbers written on the wooden part, clipped to a small basket or plastic container. As students come into the classroom, they put only their pin in the container. I can tell at a glance who is absent or if a student is taking attendance, she/he knows how to spell the absent student's name. I also keep an attendance pad in each basket so I'm not always searching for it and I can write on the entire pad the period number in advance."

6th Grade Lunch/Attendance Strategy

Student Cards
From Misty Hance, a third grade teacher at John Hay Elementary School in Morristown, Tennessee:
"I take attendance quickly by having a poster with pockets in which each student has a number on the pocket (like their number on your roster). Then I place an index card with their name and a sticker or picture on it and their corresponding number. Every morning, I have them bring me their card as they come in the door. I can then use the card to draw for who is going to be a helper, and I know which children are present. I can quickly look at the pockets which still have a card in them to see who is absent

Nametage Holder & Attendance Chart
Create a dual-purpose nametag holder and attendance chart. Hang a long piece of material by the door to use as the attendance chart. Laminate student nametags and attach a small piece of Velcro® to the back of each. Also attach pieces of Velcro® to the attendance chart and to each student's desk. When students came in each morning, have them remove their nametags from the attendance chart and attach them to their desks. Taking attendance is easy -- and so is remembering students' names.
by Linda Starr, Education World®

From Brian Muschlitz, 5th grade, Lehigh Elementary School, Walnutport, PA
My homeroom is divided into 4 teams. In the morning, the teams let me know who is absent. Also, each week, one team is “team of the week” and they are responsible for maintaining the organization and cleanliness of the room, putting away all supplies, lunch count, and handing out any take home papers. If the teams have a very good week, they are entered into a raffle at the end of the week. Usually, one or two students don’t pull their weight with the responsibilities, but eventually the other members get tired of it and motivate them to cooperate.

Seating Ideas

Deck of Cards
Using two decks of cards, create enough pairs for each member of the class. Place one card of the pair on each desk, and keep the other card in a separate pile. After students come in, let each pick a card from your pile. They are then assigned to the corresponding desk. -

Digital Seating Chart
From Mary Patterson, a sixth grade science teacher at Hamilton Middle School in Cypress, Texas:
"I use a digital camera to create a modern seating chart. I take each student's picture, laminate the pictures and cut them apart. Then, I stick Velcro dots on to the backs of the pictures and onto a laminated poster board. This way, I can easily change their seats around during the year. My substitutes love me for this! I also have a library of student photos for future use and awards."

Drawing Seats
From Dana Wells, an eighth grade history teacher
at Immokalee Middle School in Immokalee, Florida:
"I give each child a playing card as they enter the classroom. The students must match their cards with laminated hints that I tape to the desks. The hints are clues to the cards such as H-4 (four of hearts), S-8 (eight of spades), D-9, and C-10. The children must use their critical thinking skills to figure out the clues and find their seats. I also assign seats by handing out pictures of the presidents and they must match the faces to the names on the desks. These fun activities help my students discover new things each day."

Post-It Notes
From Carole Cills, a seventh grade science teacher at Howard M. Phifer Middle School in Pennsauken, New Jersey:
"To make seating charts for my classes, I write student names on mini-post-it notes and then stick the notes to the inside of a manila folder. It's so easy to change my seating arrangement and the stickiness of the notes lasts the entire year! I label the outside of the folder to identify the class and I am set for anyone who has to take over my class."

Changeable Seating Chart
From Pat Arnold, a sixth grade math teacher at Loggers' Run Middle School in Boca Raton, Florida:
"I have a great tip for making a seating chart. In middle school, we have so many students whose seats and classes constantly change that I found this to be a big help. I laminate an 81/2" X 11" sheet of colored paper. I then set up the chart with removable labels with the students' names at the location of their desks. As their seats change, the labels can be easily moved to a new location on the chart. I also place this inside of a 3-ring sheet protector. I can then use an overhead marker to mark absences, incomplete work, or any other notations for the day over the student's name. This makes recording a simple end of the day task!"

Take a Number

Missing Numbers
From anonymous:
"I keep track of assignments by assigning each student a number. All I have to do is look through the number list and I know who is missing work. It's much easier than using names in alphabetical order. I just call out whatever number is missing work. The student numbers are the same as their book distribution numbers."

Choosing Students by Number
From Kari Augustine, a fourth and fifth grade looping teacher at Cottage Grove School in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin:
"One of my opening week activities is to have each of my students create and decorate a circle with their student number on it. I laminate it and hot glue it to a magnetized orange juice lid. I use the lids on the front chalkboard for activities like voting, who's up for current events and who gets the couch during D.E.A.R time. My students' numbers are assigned alphabetically in the beginning of the year. My number is zero because everyone knows it all begins with zero!"

6th Grade Number Organization

Student Numbers I
From Ann Schmidt, a third grade teacher at Garrisonville Elementary School in Stafford, Virginia:
"I always put my students in alphabetical order at the beginning of the year. When I do this I give each student a number. They use this number all year and include it on everything they do, putting it right after their name. Since they have numbers I use them for a variety of things. I use their numbers when playing games, getting help, collecting papers, taking attendance, counting for lunch. I put each number on an individual clothes pin. As the students walk in each morning, they put their number on their lunch choice. Then all I have to do is glance to see both the lunch count and attendance."

Student Numbers II
From Linda Spengler, a fourth grade teacher at George Wolf Elementary School in Bath, Pennsylvania:
"I give each of my students a number according to their listing alphabetically. This helps with the following tasks: (1) When papers are put in numerical order I can easily find which is missing and papers are in the same order as my grade book; (2) I assign two students as secretaries and when papers are collected they put them in order; (3) By number is a fun way to line up - 'all odd students get your coats or everyone one to ten sit on the floor' - and varies the activities; and (4) It is useful at those time when I quickly need to get kids in alphabetical order - when going for eye exams or having pictures taken."

2nd Grade Homework Files

4th Grade Homework Strategy

Student Numbers and Recording Grades
From Stamata DeCarlo, a life management and home economics teacher
at Sul Ross Middle School in San Antonio, Texas:
"I cut down on the time it takes to record grades by giving each student the number corresponding to her/his name in my grade book. Each new year I give students these directions: (1) Make a box on the right hand corner of the folder that you bring to class each day and put the number in this box; and (2) Write this number on the right corner of your paper each time you write your regular heading. Grades will always be posted on the right hand side of the paper. When assignments and tests are picked up, I ask a student to place them in order according to the numbers. Believe me, time is really saved when recording the grades!"

Behavioral Seating Chart
From Melanie McCarty, a sixth grade science teacher at Elwood Community Middle School in Elwood, Indiana:
"I have trouble remembering the behavioral history of kids in my class. I recognize the escalation or improvement of problems but it s hard for me to remember specific dates and incidents. I make my seating chart so that the box with the student's name in it is large. When a student has a problem, I write the date, code number for the rule, and if necessary, a note about what happened. I use a new copy of my seating chart each week. It looks very professional to be able to recite exact dates of incidents when parents ask."


School staff experience their most difficult time with student behavior during transitions. As students change from one activity to another, return from recess or a special event, or move from one part of the room to another, successful teachers report the necessity of using a number of strategies.
Consider the following:

As you announce an upcoming transition, remind students of the kind of behavior you're looking for.
Restate your expectation of moving quietly and slowly without bumping, shoving, or touching others with hands or feet.

Publicly compliment those groups of students complying with your transition expectations.
Say such things as, "I like the way John, Sue, and Paul are moving quietly to their seats. Some of you, I see, are already sitting, ready to begin. OK, now I see more of you are ready to work."

As students reenter the classroom, have the next activity waiting for them.
Put a message on the overhead projector about how to get ready for the next lesson, or have an assignment or the seatwork for a lesson already distributed on their desks.

After all students have reentered the room, give a signal that you are ready to begin.
Say, "Let's get started," "We have so much to do," or "The sooner we can begin, the sooner we can finish," or turn off the lights, count backwards from five, or ring a small bell. Then look at the clock, set a timer, or raise fingers on your hand with the prearranged understanding that lost minutes of instruction will be made up by the whole class (or a few individuals) before leaving for recess or lunch.

Excerpted from Discipline Checklist: Advice from 60 Successful Teachers,
available from the NEA Professional Library.

Transitions for Kindergarteners

Kindergarteners love songs. Sing while you wait in line, sing to clean up, sing as you get ready for lunch. As you wait in line, review some things they’ve learned: count to 20, sing ABC’s, name shapes and colors.

Kindergarten Center Organization

Grouping Strategies

Stick Grouping
From Debra Shelton, 7th grade special ed, Oklahoma
I vary my classroom groups by greeting each student at the door with a craft stick. The tips of the sticks are color coded according to the area of the room they must go to or the activity they must work on first. This allows for a differentiation in grouping.

Comic Groups
From Aimee McCracken, 3rd grade, Ohio
I cut apart comic strips and pass them out to my students. They must walk around the room to find the rest of their comic strip. When they do, they have created a new team. This is an easy and fun way to create groups.

Take a Card
From Laura Long, 4th grade, PA
You will need a deck of cards. Before you begin, make as many groups or pairs as you will need for your activity. For example, if you need 5 groups of 3, you would get together 5 sets of 3 cards that are alike (3 fives, 3 aces, etc.) Then have each student pick a card and tell them they cannot let anyone see it. After all the cards are distributed, explain that they have to find their other group members by using only hand or body motions. They can’t use words or show their cards to anyone.

Join the Club
From Denise Larrabee, 4th grade, Vermont
My class is very into clubs, so we’ve started many new clubs that all kids can be a part of one way or another. For example, the “Did It, Done It” club consists of members who are up to snuff on homework. The “Missing Pieces” club if for those who have a few pieces to catch up on. The “Book It” club is for members who have reached their monthly reading goal.

Label that Table
From Jean Paschke, 2nd grade, Montana
I label each table or group of desks with a day of the week. On the day of their table, the students do all the extras. They use computers at recess or free time, read their journal stories to the class, use games or manipulatives that are limited in number, chart anything that needs to be charted, sharpen pencils, tidy the rooms.

From Carolyn Behrens, Wisconsin
To learn to work in groups made up of different personalities, intellects, philosophies and learning styles, I divide into groups in a variety of ways:
• Students give birthdays and I put the closest birthdays together. I also do this with the last four digits of phone numbers, house numbers, etc.
• What did you eat for dinner last night or breakfast this morning? Beef, chicken, pizza, egg groups etc.
• What color is your family car? Like colors work together.
• What color is your bedroom, bathroom, house, coat? Like colors work together.
• Students wearing red work together, blue work together, stripes work together, boots work together.
• Students line up and the shortest and tallest work together, the next shortest and tallest, etc.

Student Organization

Assigned Weekly Monitors

From Marcia Epstein, a sixth grade reading teacher at Glencrest Middle School in Fort Worth, Texas:
"I find that having assigned weekly monitors cuts down on the kids begging to be a helper. Every week I choose a clerk, a librarian, a folder monitor and a custodian. The clerk passes out papers, the librarian calls the children by row to put away their novel, the folder monitor passes out and collects folders and the custodian checks for lost items and gets the kids to pick up their trash. If someone is absent, the substitute is always the person who had that job the previous week. This cuts down on the 'pick me' clamoring. I keep a spreadsheet check list and no one can have a second monitor job until everyone has had a turn."

Writing Assignment Chart

From Richard Police, a third grade teacher at Perry Elementary in Perry, Ohio:
"My students write daily and use Word '97 to publish their stories. To help me to keep track of who has a story to publish, I use a large chart called 'Papers to Publish'. I list the students' names on the chart and put a post-it note with the title of their story next to the student who is ready to publish. Students do not take down their post-it note until they have turned in their published work. This chart lets you see in a glance where your students are and what they need to complete."

Getting Everyone Organized

From K. Sinclair Whitaker, a science, English and special education teacher at Madison High School in Madison Heights, Michigan:
"During my first years of teaching I noticed that my students needed improvement in organization. Another problem was my own lack of organizational skills. It was impossible to determine whether a student had turned in an assignment which I did not receive or whether the student was taking advantage of my obvious weakness. To alleviate these problems, I now do the following:
  • write what we are doing that day and what is due on the board in my room, and also remind them about upcoming events and quizzes;
  • pass out to each student a biweekly outline which includes exactly what we will be doing in class;
  • give students a 'turn in papers' pocket folder. The folders are color-coded for each class. In the left pocket goes the current biweekly outline and in the right goes any assignments due that day. Students keep track of exactly what is due by referring to the outline which is always in their folder. Students remove all graded papers daily from the 'turn in papers' folder and replace them with those that are due that day.
Since I have instituted this procedure, I have yet to lose a paper. Many students have commented about how helpful the outline is and several of my colleagues have adopted it. This has made my job teaching much more organized!"

Homework in Advance

From Jane McClellan, an eleventh and twelfth grade American history and economics teacher at Oak Ridge High School in Orlando, Florida:
"A few years ago, one of my seniors said that she really didn't mind doing my homework but on some days it was hard because she was scheduled to work right after school. She wondered if there was some way she could know ahead of time when assignments would be due and then she plan her non-work time better. Although it was a little more work for me, I started putting on the board all the work the students would be required to do outside of class. I post the assignments for the next chapter when the students are taking the test for the previous chapter. I do not accept late work (except for absences) and believe it or not the students usually come in with their homework. It has eliminated all those irritating questions like 'Do we have anything due today?' With kids so busy with work and after school activities they are learning to plan their time better, and I am better organized."

Enlisting Students' Help

From Beth W. Graham, a teacher of special education at Larned High School in Larned, Kansas:
"I teach more than one content area daily with classes of 2-14 students. To help with organizational skills (mine & the students), I type the class roster, print several copies, cut them into small rectangles, and place them in envelopes marked with the hour and class. The first student to finish the assignment gets a roster from the appropriate envelope, writes the date and assignment at the top, paper clips it to their paper and crosses off their name. The second student adds their paper to the clip and crosses off their name, and so on. I keep a small basket beside the 'in basket' that contains the envelopes and 3 sizes of clips. The first student has to determine whether all the completed work will fit with a small clip or if it will need a bigger butterfly clip. This makes it easy for me to see at a glance whose paper is in and gathers all the papers from one class together. In addition, my students now check when they come into class to remind themselves as to whether or not they have finished an assignment. If all the students have not finished the assignment, I lay the clipped papers beside the 'in basket' at the beginning of the class. This saves the papers from the other classes from becoming dislodged or mixed up."

Assignment Books

From Carol Frey, a fifth and sixth grade LD teacher at McArthur Elementary School in Vinton County, Ohio:
" I use assignment books not only to remind students of their homework and test dates, but also to help parents keep abreast of what is going on in their child's classroom. Each student receives a new shiny printed assignment book on the first day of school and by the end of the year it has become a journal of classes. Not only assignments are noted by the student (in pencil), but I include a brief note about what the child did in that subject for each day (written in ink). At the beginning of the year I note everything on the board which each student copies, but after a few months, the kids get together themselves for a few minutes each day, compare notes and write any missing info which may be anything from 'bring a shoe box tomorrow for social studies' to 'sub in math.' Of course, there is also room for me to write comments (often positive) to parents."

Right Side of Paper

From anonymous:
"To help students learn which side of the paper to use, I stick white (loose leaf notebook) reinforcement stickers on student desks. Then, if holes in student papers match up with the stickers they know they are using the right side. When students are learning to print, I make a couple of holes in the primary paper. In second or third grade, when students are learning cursive this works, too."

Post-it Flags

From Linda M. Koester, a seventh and eighth grade special education teacher of English, math, study skills, and general education at North Posey Junior High School in Poseyville, Indiana:
"I found the Post-It Brand Tape Flags an excellent and inexpensive way to have students reach information in their textbooks quickly and easily with minimum difficulty. The flags can be moved daily as they progress in their textbooks and do not damage the print of the book. Students can use one flag for nearly the entire year and with the cost of $1.37, it doesn't break the bank. The students enjoy moving the flags and also feel privileged to have their books marked like their teacher's. You can also write in pen or pencil on the flag to specifically identify the section of the book, like the index, answers, glossary, etc. I also find them handy in my grade book, eliminating those troublesome paper clips I used to use to mark each different class that I teach."

Color Coding Journals

From Linda Barry, a fourth and firth grade teacher at Bel Air Elementary in Bel Air, Maryland:
"At the beginning of the school year I color code my students' journals by putting a red, yellow, green, blue or purple sticker on the front of each journal. Then every Monday for the rest of the school year, the students with the red stickers turn in their journals. I take these few journals home and respond personally to them. Each day, I collect one color journals. I deliberately use colors in the order of the rainbow -- red, yellow, green, blue, purple -- so I never forget which color to collect which day. This makes responding to journals much easier than collecting them all at once. I see every student's journal each week and keep up with responses. If my students are absent or if they have something special they need me to see in their journals, they can turn them in on a day that is not their regular day. After a while, students are so familiar with the color coding that they turn in their journals without my reminding them."

Returning Library Books

From Beth Punte, a media coordinator at Margaret Hearne Elementary School in Wilson, North Carolina:
"To help my kindergarten and first grade students remember to bring back their library books, when they forget them on 'library day,' I have made stickers with a design program (Print Shop Ensemble III or Avery Kids). I use regular mailing labels that say 'MOM, please help me find my library book and get it back to school.' Also a cutesy color picture is on the sticker. Yes, the children love to remove those stickers, but fortunately I have my K-1 classes near the end of the day. So far, the success rate of books returned the next day is about 40%.

Math and Management

From Mary Fischer, a resource teacher at Auten Road Intermediate School in Hillsborough, New Jersey:
"I use a checkbook system for my classroom management. It ultimately serves more than one purpose. We review basic addition and subtraction without tedious worksheets; it keeps the practice ongoing, it teaches some real world skills, and encourages responsibility.
"Students get their own check registers and are awarded points daily (usually 5). Points are given for: coming to class prepared with materials, having completed homework, keeping a positive attitude and attempting work. If points are lost, it is recorded in the comments line. For ex: -1 HW for incomplete homework. Once every two weeks, students may go to my 'store' to purchase pencils, erasers, homework passes, extra computer time or lunch with the teacher by writing a check to me. At that point, registers may also be sent home for parents to see the record of student performance!"