Organize + Energize: Teachers! 8 Tips to Organize Your Classroom

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


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This article is for all of the teachers that are disorganized and organized! This is the best time of year to get your classroom organized. You still have time to get into your room and transform it and have the best organized year yet!

How did you function in your room last year? Did your room have a good flow to it? What did you like about your space and what didn’t work for you? Ask yourself these questions and carve out some time and get into your classroom and make these changes.  Before you dive head first into this project, sit for a minute and think about how you would like to function going forward. What’s your vision for the room?

Here are 8 things you can to do to get started in the organizing process:

Create your vision. Before you begin to tear apart your room, think about your dream classroom. Write down all of the visions you have for your room. Get the mental clutter out of your head and onto paper. Don’t worry about it being organized. Once you get everything onto paper, then you can categorize and prioritize.

Make a plan. Carve 3 -4 hours out of your day and mark this day on your calendar. Limit your distractions. If you have to put a do not disturb sign on the door while you are working, do it. Your project will take half the time it normally would if you limit your distractions and stay focused.

Break it down. Break your classroom into sections. Don’t look at the classroom as the whole project. If you do, you’ll get overwhelmed and nothing will get done. Take one section at a time. Once you complete one section, you can move onto another.

Declutter.  You have to declutter in order to get organized. Empty the entire section where you are working.  You won’t know what you have until you take everything out of the space and go through each item. The last teacher I helped get organized, we filled 3 garbage cans full of clutter and 2 boxes of donate.  She described it as a cathartic release, as most of my clients do.

Categorize. As you are decluttering, use the classroom desks or floor space to categorize items. As you empty each section and declutter, you will be categorizing everything. By the time you have emptied all closets, cabinets, and shelves, you will have categorizes of items in the middle of the room.  You’ll be able to see everything clearly and wonder, “How did all of this stuff come out of the spaces in this room?” You’ll also notice things you’ve used, things you haven’t used and things you forgot you had.

Think about functionality. Now you can see everything that you have in this classroom categorized in front of you. Take a look at the spaces you have in the room. Look at your cabinets, closets, shelves and other storage spaces. Think about how you want to function. The old way may not have been working so it’s time for new systems.

Incorporate your students in the process. When the school year begins, take your students around the classroom and show them where everything is stored. Teach them if you take something out to put it back where it belongs. Label everything if you must to show that everything has a home.

Work with the systems. Work with the systems for a few months into the school year. If after a few months, the systems aren’t working for you, it’s time to re-evaluate and tweak the systems to work better for you. Don’t continue to work with broken systems.

The less clutter and visual distractions you have in the classroom, the more focused you and your students will be this school year. Organization plays a big role in the classroom and if you and your students are functioning in an organized classroom, everybody will thrive. Remember, less is more and keep it simple.

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Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, is an organizing & efficiency expert and owner of Organizing in RI. Kristin teaches her clients that living an organized lifestyle will save them time and money, decrease their stress levels and help them become more efficient and productive. Her articles have been published in local and national magazines. She has also given over 70 presentations throughout the state. Watch Kristin LIVE every Thursday at 3pm here on GoLocal LIVE with Molly O’Brien.


Related Slideshow: RI Experts Advice for Back to School Sanity

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Julie Lynn Cardinal 

Salesperson at Coldwell Banker Realtors

I now have one adult child out of the house, one who I just sent of to college, one in Elementary school and also a high school student.

Elementary is easy. I just let him enjoy his last days of Summer without the pressure.

I buy very few school clothes before October. Then you get the sales and they really do wear their shorts and Summer clothes anyway.

The High Schooler is a little tougher. Its back to very early mornings for him and he is a challenge to get out the door. I try to focus on the proper supplies for him and making sure he has his electronics in order.


Photo: Facebook

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Pat Paolino Cruz 

Social Media and Special Event Consultant

The biggest problem I have with getting my teenage son ready for the upcoming school year is, getting his sleep and eating schedule back on track. Like many teenagers he adapted the horrible vampire habits of summer - stay up as late as he can and, sleep till noon. Fortunately for me, he's been a bit more interested in getting healthy and working out/physical fitness over the past month. 

I plan to use that to my benefit by making him do his own self-research about the importance of a good sleep and eating schedule when it comes to building a good physically fit body. In addition to getting him to make "himself" more aware of what is important, we will start the process of "lights out" earlier and, practice the horrific ritual of getting him up early prior to the first day of school.

He goes to The Met School in Providence so the start time of school is not so bad but it still takes a bit of getting used to after a free flowing summer.  


PHOTO: Facebook

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Nancy Thomas 

President of Tapestry Communications 

Surely as the dog days of summer are here, the uptick in the pace of September can already be felt.  While my children are grown now and grandchildren yet to come, there is a natural "back-to-school" impact everyone experiences. Being the mom of young women, there is still the fall and winter clothes shopping and that involves more catalog shopping than in-store shopping these days, especially when it comes to items such as shoes, bags, and accessories. Christmas lists are already being made. Fall is my favorite time of year, so a foliage or fall enjoy New England trip is always on the list.

Working in public relations means you are always working 2-3 months, if not 6 months by the time September comes around, I'm looking at Christmas and the New Year. It is all about organization. Planning that gets lax in summertime, goes into high gear - right - about - NOW.  This is the final quarter of the year and time to assess what you wanted to get done - and where you are on that timeline....can you coast or is it an all out sprint and time to pull out the stops. 

With this fall also having a presidential election, the clutter in marketing and advertising is a time to think creatively, too, about how you will deliver the message you want to. Recognizing that clients and the media will have children scurrying back to school and schedules will start to be full with rushing kids around to football practice and dance lessons - and homework time - it's all about being sensitive to those we deal with.  I actually find that we all get more efficient when time is shorter - and with holidays approaching, that is even more true.

When my children were young, I absolutely loved the shopping for school supplies - matching notebooks and book covers, etc.  Buying planners!  So, if you don't have little ones around anymore, nothing says you can't go out and buy the newest line of markers and notebooks, too, and get organized!

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Robin Kall 

GoLocalProv Book Expert 

One of the best pieces of advice I can give about getting ready and staying sane for the upcoming school year is “gradual transition.”

My mother did this with us and it works just as well today. It’s impossible to jump right into “school mode” after a summer void of schedules and late bedtimes. 

With a couple of weeks until school begins it’s a good idea to get the bedtimes going in the right direction and getting back into the routine of the day. This might include making sure the math packets are completed and how can I not mention the summer reading? The last thing you want is unhappy children cramming in the summer reading. School begins in two weeks. Now is the time.

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Robin Garceau 

Interior Designer

Having 3 kids aged 13-25 I've been dealing with this for a very long time..

Kids want to choose their clothes, so instead of arguing, I have drawers & hangers specifically for school. I have control over what's in them, but they have control over every day choices...

The other thing I'm big on is where items "live"..keys, notebooks, gloves, etc...then they are not searching for something last minute!

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Kristin MacRae

GoLocalProv Organizing Expert 

During this back to school season, make life simple. Plan and prepare  anything you can ahead of time. Create morning and evening routines. 

Create organized spaces with simple, streamlined, functional systems  that everybody will follow. If your kids rooms aren't organized, this  would be a great time to declutter and organize their space! The less distractions they have around them, the easier it will be for them to  stay focused.

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Cristiana Quinn 

GoLocalProv College Admissions Expert 

Get a healthcare proxy signed before your son/daughter goes off to campus. This is critical for students over 18, otherwise you will not have access to medical info in the case of and emergency (due to healthcare privacy laws). You need to be able to speak with doctors and make decisions remotely and quickly if anything happens.

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American Psychological Association

Practice the first day of school routine: Getting into a sleep routine before the first week of school will aide in easing the shock of waking up early. Organizing things at home — backpack, binder, lunchbox or cafeteria money — will help make the first morning go smoothly. Having healthy, yet kid-friendly lunches will help keep them energized throughout the day. Also, walking through the building and visiting your child’s locker and classroom will help ease anxiety of the unknown.

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Get the kids to bed. Kids need more sleep than most people realize. While children up to third grade may require up to 12 hours per night, even high schoolers still need a solid eight to 10 hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Quickly address factors that may be resulting in sleep loss, such as managing a demanding schedule, feeling anxious, or using technology late at night. 

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Christine Pafumi Donovan of 

Fall into Routine Naturally 

I used to start putting The Boy to bed at his school bedtime about a week before school started. Just in case. Nowadays, he stays up until who knows when in the summer and he sleeps until 9:00 or so. Thank. God. When school starts I figure his body will get the hint when he starts bumping into walls and falling down stairs by lunchtime, then everything will work itself out and he'll be fine.


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