11 Classroom Organization Ideas Every Teacher Can Use

school supply and paperwork organizers for teachers
Holly (Teach Starter)

Written by Holly (Teach Starter)

Classroom organization. Ask any veteran teacher why it’s important, and you’re bound to get an earful — both about how it helps and how it can be a challenge!

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If you’re looking for tips to manage the copious amount of paperwork that will most likely start hitting your desk within hours of starting the school year, consider these classroom organization hacks to make all that … STUFF … easier to keep track of! From organizing your teacher desk to student stuff, let’s dive in, shall we?

By incorporating some simple strategies that become routine at the beginning of the school year, you’ll hopefully free up some time to get further down that never ending to-do list!

Organize It All With Binder Clips

We all know the feeling. Your desk is clean at the beginning of the day, then during the craziness that is a school day, your desk is suddenly covered in the paperwork that then gets put into every growing Mount Paper on your desk.

That’s where these printable binder clip label templates become surprisingly helpful as a classroom organization hack.

FREE Printable Binder Clip Templates

Create a Turn-In Bin

Teaching your students to be organized is a skill that will serve them for the rest of their lives, and this trick will do just that … while also helping with your classroom organization. Southern California teacher Paige has a “turn-in bin” in her classroom with file folders marked for each student. 

When it’s time for students to turn in work, they know to go to the bin, find the folder marked with their name, and add their work. In turn, Paige already has everything sorted by the students! Genius! 

Need a label for your turn-in bin? Make a custom one in Studio!

turn in bin

Sort Your Drawers By Weeks

Planning tip: I used to plan my teaching week on a Thursday afternoon! I would always force myself to plan and organize any photocopying or finding any particular hands-on activities for the following week’s topics that afternoon. Once all the photocopying and sorting were done, I would then use a drawer set up like the photo below to sort it all. Not only did I feel somewhat organized, but if for some reason I was away, it was much easier to plan for the substitute.

To create the drawer set up below, use a set of five desk drawers (I purchased this one from Target). Then, use some washi tape to decorate each drawer (who doesn’t love a bit of washi tape?). Finally, you can use any of our customizable tray labels to create the days of the week.

Once downloaded, I printed these tray labels two to a page to get the correct size for the drawers.

Teacher Desk Organisation Hack

Dish Rack = Student Work Filing System

Using a dish rack for classroom organization is something I would absolutely do if I was still in the classroom. I would put my students’ work samples in there, making them easily accessible for meetings that you may have for that particular student. The front compartments of the dish drying rack could be used for pencils or name tags – whatever you may need handy on your desk during the day.

You could use our range of customizable name tags to label each folder (I used the 16 name tags to a page option).

Teacher Desk Organisation Hack


Make “Sharpened” and “Unsharpened” Containers

Make it easier to grab a sharpened pencil with containers labeled with “sharpened” and “unsharpened.” This lets kids — and let’s face it, you — know where to drop unsharpened pencils so they can get right back to work … and leave the sharpening for the class sharpener to take care of during downtime. Need fun labels? You can make your own in Studio!

Organize by Color

Is there anything we teachers won’t color code? Quick answer: NO! And for good reason too — color coding is proven to help students organize their thinking and make connections. But it doesn’t just help our kids. Color coding can make classroom organization a snap too. 

Take this fun idea from kindergarten teacher Mackenzie Lee Fuggett who bought plastic candy jars from the dollar store and loaded each one with individually colored markers. It makes it easy for students to know where to return each marker, and it’s pretty to boot!

markers in candy jars classroom organization

Office Supply Organization

You can’t do an organization hack without featuring the ever-famous office supply drawers! These drawers and the different ways to decorate them have been all over social media! I purchased these drawers from our local hardware store and used washi tape (again, I may be addicted) to decorate each drawer.

Then, use our customizable desk name tags to label each drawer with whatever you want! This organization hack prevents your drawers in your desk from getting full of all of those bits and bobs that you seem to collect as a teacher.

Sub Tub

Sometimes you know when you’re going to have a sub … and then sometimes you get walloped by a case of strep throat that kicks in on a Saturday, and you’ve got to worry about what’s going to happen on Monday morning. 

Grab a milk crate, a laundry basket, or really any container that will fit the supplies you need for your substitute to get the job done, and set it up in one spot in the classroom where you can easily direct your sub. 

How does this keep you organized? Let’s put it this way: Have you ever come back to chaos when you had to be out unexpectedly? Exactly. The more you can prepare your sub, the more organized things will remain!

Classroom Closet Organization

Storing all of those amazing resources that you have spent hours and hours printing and laminating is always a big question we get asked! Of course, you can store them in colored baskets, but sometimes, those amazing resources get forgotten about.

Using coat hangers and a tie hanger is just perfect! It’s another simple, yet effective, solution to ensure you get your use out of those teaching resources you have spent so much of your life creating!

Student-Centered Work Bins

Much like the turn-in bin, this idea from teacher Marine Freibrun puts the kids in the driver’s seat when it comes to classroom organization! Set up milk crates with extra work, make-up work, extra supplies … really anything kids might need where they can help themselves. 

Not only does it help with your classroom management, but it can help keep YOU organized as you have a specific place to put each thing! 

student work bins

Tabletop Organization

Do you organize your classroom seating in groups or pods? You’re going to need this trick from teacher April of @inseasonspaces. Buy inexpensive plastic plates and containers, and hot glue the containers to the plate for easily organized supplies that you can put on each table for your students!  

plate with school supplies organized in small containers for classroom

It may take some time to set up some of these organization hacks, but I promise it will relieve some of the disorganized haze teachers often find themselves in when they look down at their messy desk or work area!

Need more classroom organization tips? Check out tons of resources for organizing that you can print in no time!

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