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How to Be an Organized Teacher

Updated on January 26, 2017

An Organized Desk Is Essential

Tools of the trade: handy desk mug filled with pens, pencils, hole-punch, scissors, and markers.
Tools of the trade: handy desk mug filled with pens, pencils, hole-punch, scissors, and markers. | Source

Why it is Important to Be Organized

She walks into the school room five minutes prior to the start of class. The students are already chatting and sharing news from last night and seem oblivious to her entry. As she moves to the front of the classroom, a paper airplane flies across her face, hitting a child in the head. The room seems a bit stuffy and the blackboard still has yesterday's agenda posted. She sets her tote on the desk and turns to face the class. Suddenly, she realizes that her class is already going in a different direction than planned for the day.

Occasionally, we have days like this when it seems as if our whole world spins out of control and all is lost. As a teacher, we try to keep times like this to a minimum. We know that days like this are not conducive to learning and only deter the path forward for students. So how do we keep this from happening?

The answers is to become an organized teacher. A good cook in the kitchen can whip up any menu within minutes and present a decent meal when the kitchen is stocked and everything is in it's place. Similarly, a good teacher can navigate rocky waters if her classroom is well organized. With some planning and preparation of basic school room essentials, your day's schedule can flow smoothly in spite of late starts.

A teacher's ability to organize and prioritize classroom materials and schedules makes for successful teacher-student learning and efficacy. It is especially important during the first few weeks of each school year and it will set the expectations and classroom behavior for the duration of the year. A study (Harry Wong,1998) showed that classroom management depended upon a teacher's early organization skills, which led to student cooperation, engaged student activity, and a productive learning environment.

Which of the following keeps you organized in the classroom (choose one only)?

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Basic Classroom Essentials

There are some simple organizational methods that will make any teacher's classroom schedule sail through rough seas easily and quickly. The first step is to know exactly what is needed to operate at the basic level. It may seem tedious, but keeping a central filing system either on your desk or in a personal work area is key in keeping on top of everyday classroom instruction.

Baskets, crates or standard cardboard file boxes are sturdy, mobile holders for important daily material such as calendars, handouts, forms, progress reports and reward stickers. By creating a central work station your essential needs are easily retrieved or filed as needed, saving time and effort.

A storage cabinet located near the teacher's desk area can be used to hold often used supplies such as sentence strips, student folders and large or bulky items. Other useful storage items are over-the-door shoe holders, ziplock baggies, shoe boxes and tupperware containers. These can be used to hold and organize papers, books, manipulatives, prizes and other teaching materials.

Organization On The Run

A caddy, tote or briefcase makes transitions from home to school easier.
A caddy, tote or briefcase makes transitions from home to school easier. | Source

Preparation Outside the Classroom

The well organized teacher plans ahead, not only in the classroom, but at home. Many instructors have home offices or at least a private space where they store classroom materials and supplies. When I taught pre-schoolers, my home's basement served as a combination office and closet for all the wonderful manipulatives, charts, toys, and books that I didn't have room for at school.

I purchased inexpensive shelving at the local hardware store and used it to stack games, art supplies, dramatic play items and prop boxes that I needed to rotate in and out of the classroom according to thematic lessons. Also, if you can locate them, discarded display stands from grocery and retail stores make great storage space. Arranging your school room items according to themes goes a long way in being able to put a lesson together when the time comes. A label maker is useful in noting the contents of a storage box making it simple to pull items as needed.

Currently, my real time saver is owning a durable rolling cart or briefcase to tote items needed at home and school. My favorite is a briefcase that has three large inside compartments and outer zippered areas that can hold flash drives, pens, scissors, glue sticks and other miscellaneous smaller teaching material. It is also large enough inside to carry my lunch bag and small purse. Make a habit of packing your cart or case the night before with those completed assignments so that you can simply roll on out in the morning.

Crates or baskets are mobile and can hold regularly used items such as calendars, student files, and forms.
Crates or baskets are mobile and can hold regularly used items such as calendars, student files, and forms. | Source

Electronic Storage

Through the years I have accumulated a vast amount of learning materials useful at many different levels of classroom education. Today's technological advances have made storing of such documents and forms a breeze. My briefcase is a lot lighter these days since I do not have the added weight of tons of paperwork. Storing forms on a portable laptop and flash drive are convenient and keep a teacher organized.

I realize that many also use folders as methods of organization, but having an electronic storage system reduces clutter and can set up those regularly used forms and classroom handouts in specialized folders and zip drives.

A good teacher is prepared and organized and sets the stage in a classroom for excellence in student learning.

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    • StardustOrdinaire profile image

      Kristi Tipps-Deutsch 3 years ago from Colorado Springs

      "Make a habit of packing your cart or case the night before with those completed assignments so that you can simply roll on out in the morning."

      Thank you so much for this! It's such a small thing, but it makes all the difference in the world when you want to start the day out right. So many great tips here! Loved this hub!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Yadav, thanks for your comment and support.

    • Yadav SK profile image

      SK Yadav 3 years ago from Gurgaon, Haryana

      I have read many posts from you on this column and I must say you are a great writer too. Your way of presenting knowledge and facts through hubs is just awesome.

      In this post too, I found operative practices that makes a teacher more qualitative and powerful in teaching. The aspects that you have included such as organizing things on the go, organizing study related things in classroom are just must follow things for every productive teacher.

      Thanks for sharing such valuable hubs.

      SK Yadav - http://www.u18.edu.in/courses-and-programs.php

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Jen, you and I think alike -- If I don't organize, I am lost and lose quality teaching time. Thanks for your add to the flow of thoughts here. Enjoy your evening.

    • jenbeach21 profile image

      jenbeach21 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Thanks for the great information. I know when I don't organize my classroom I feel like I am not as effective at teaching. I am actually one of those people who like to organize my classroom is usually in pretty good shape!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Hey, mellony! I can't function if my work space is not organized, but I know some who don't seem to mind. However, as you said, it does pay off to be organized. Thanks for your added value. Take care.

    • Mellonyy profile image

      Mellonyy 4 years ago

      Very useful advice here. I think if you take the time to set up your classroom organization, it'll pay off in the end, and everyone should do it. Thanks for sharing!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Ignugent17, I can't do without my briefcase. It's my mobile office. Thanks for your support. I do appreciate your comments and value your opinions.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 5 years ago

      This hub is beneficial to all. Keeping things organized is difficult especially you are always on the go. The briefcase idea is very good because I will always look for things like paper clips, glue, and more. Thanks teaches12345 for sharing.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Cogerson, I thank you for your well wishes and support of my writing efforts. I do appreciate and value your opinion. Be safe and well today.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      First of all....congrats on your 2012 Hubbie Award....

      Secondly you have provided some excellent advice and ideas for becoming an excellent teacher. A hub that was both educational, informative and interesting....not a trio of things easily mixed together...voted up and very useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Congratulations on the opportunity as an English assistant! I am happy you found this information helpful. Best wishes, Rebecca!

    • Rebecca2904 profile image

      Rebecca 5 years ago

      Great advice! I'm going to be working as an English foreign language assistant from September, and I'm a bit nervous about making a good first impression. But at least now I'll be sure to be organised!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hi Prairieprincess. It's good to see you here! If you have a passion for teaching, then you must reconsider going back to the classroom. The world needs great teachers such as yourself. Glad I can help and thanks for the votes and sharing. Keep balanced!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Teaches, I appreciate your tips and strategies very much. As a former classroom teacher, I am presently considering going back into the classroom, so hope you write even more hubs like this. This is very useful information. Voted up and more, and shared!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I agree, it gets easier to organize as you gain teaching experience and those five minute lessons are always a great saver. In fact, I use them with my college courses as well. Great add to the hub, Missolive. I value your input!

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      Hi! I have always admired Elementary school teachers during Open House. I am always impressed by their organizational skills. They have the same kiddos all day and teach all of the subjects - they HAVE to be organized. I've always said Middle and High school teachers could learn a few things from the organized population of Elementary school teachers. I am entering my 7th year as a Middle School teacher and have gotten better with my own organizational skills with each passing year. Time is of the essence and it is amazing how much you can do in 2 - 5 minutes. Your tips are great and definitely make for a well organized work space. Keeping extra activities and 5 minute lessons on hand have saved me many times during awkward scenarios and crunch time.

      Thanks for sharing your tips

      voted and tweeted

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Krystal, I can't say that I wrote it for anyone in particular, except that I have been there -- sometimes I preach to myself on this. When I can't find my car keys in the morning, that's when I know I've lost it! Keep focused!

    • KrystalD profile image

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Wow! This was written as a reminder to me, right? I have learned to be organized in the classroom especially as it pertains to what children will do. It's a big part of my management style-keeping things as clear and simple as possible so learning can happen. Love this hub!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello Lindacee. You bet, it's what keeps us sane! Thanks for your comment here and votes of support. Have a great weekend.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      I'd never given thought to how important organization is to an educator. You have much to juggle, and having everything easily accessible makes for a much more efficient use of your time. Good advice for teachers and everyone else! Voted up and useful!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      OK, I never thought of that Unknown. May just have to give that idea a try .. but then I would never find my stuff again.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Hahaha!! me too! my vest does functions well without it. but i really can't stand unorganized things before sitting and pass a lazy day. (sometimes i have to teach him a lesson by making him do all the organizing) hehehe

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I can't function unless I am organized! On the other hand, my hubby functions well without it ... makes for interesting arguments at times. Enjoyed your visit, Unknown Spy.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      I love being organized. with all things. It makes me feel neat and comfortable.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      The cat would be so welcome in any room! I love a comfy home office complete with mugs, stacks of paper and cat. At school, I have to keep organized or I will lose momentum and the students will suffer. Thanks for your contribution here, Peggy.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I can see from the comments that teachers are in full agreement with you as to the value of being organized. Even people who are not teachers can benefit from reading this. Wish our computer desk looked as neat as the one in your top photo. We DO have the mug with pens, letter opener, etc. We also have too many stacks of paper, a telephone and other assorted items + the oftentimes napping cat. Ha! Voted up and useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks for your visit here, Hyphenbird. I am always trying to organize something around here! Take care.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      This wonderful information can benefit anyone who is responsible for any type of presentation. Thank you. I enjoyed learning how to organize.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Allissa, I am sure your husband knows some additional tips that would make for an organized classroom. Thanks for the visit and support. Have a great weekend.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      You are so right, nifwlseirff, ordered steps are so good in keeping things flowing and helps students to learn well. Storing things as soon as possible keeps the clutter from piling up and become lost among other things. Great add to the topic and so valued!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Paul, I appreciate your contribution to the hub topic. It is very good and right on with becoming an organized teacher. I can tell you must be valued in the classroom.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks, Anglnwu, for your kind compliment. I can't function without knowing where things are and what goes with what. There's so much more to it but this will get your started. Thanks for your visit and support. Be safe and well.

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 5 years ago from Normandy, TN

      Fantastic tips for teachers! Though my husband is not the most organized person at home, I am always impressed with his organization skills in his classroom. He would definitely agree with you that it helps to keep the school day flowing smooth. Great hub - voted up, useful, and awesome!

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      Being organised is so important, especially as a teacher!

      I've found it necessary to have a set of steps that I follow every time I leave the house to teach. I don't have a set classroom or teacher's desk, so don't have the luxury of storage at school. Which means, all my tools, handouts, extra resources must be carried with me from home each class.

      After a few chaotic weeks, I set aside a place for each class' materials and attendance list, and the extra materials are immediately returned to their class' spot. And a 'general' area for common resources and handouts - to be swept into my bag on leaving.

      It's certainly taken me some time to get the organisation and planning down so it doesn't cause stress!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      You are absolutely correct in this excellent hub. A good teacher must be organized when going into the classroom, otherwise you are flirting with disaster and wasting your valuable instruction time and the students' learning time. This all starts with a scheme of work and detailed lesson plans. If possible, I try to arrive at least five minutes before the start of class so that I have time to write the plan of action for the day and homework on the board. I also use this valuable time to set up my audiovisual equipment and hang up any maps needed for the lesson. Voted up as useful and sharing.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 5 years ago

      Good pointers. Being organized definitely helps the teacher to be more effective. Doing prep work before will help too. Thanks for sharing--your kids are lucky to have such an organized teacher.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hi B.Malin! I agree. Being organized keeps you focused in everything you do. I try to keep everything in it's place and it helps to keep my mind clutter-free for writing. Thanks for your added wisdom to the hub.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 5 years ago

      I think, no matter what your Career choice, Organization is so Important. I Loved your Hub Teacher, you tell it like it is, and should be appreciated by others, which I'm sure it is. Even as "Writers"...I feel I keep everything in it's place...I need a Tidy space to work my mind.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Docmo, you and I think the same in "being prepared" for those unexpected moments when technology doesn't quite prove itself. You must be a well liked and successful professor. Thanks for stopping by here and adding to the content.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Kelly, I have a lot of hard knocks and just trying to help other jump over these steps. Appreciate your comments, my dear. Be well and safe.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Whonunuwho, thanks for the support of the hub. Be well and safe out there.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Your opinion is always valued, Christy. Thanks for stopping in here. Have a great day!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      DM, you have experience and your add to the hub is valued. You are so right, organization goes a long way in time management issues. When all is running like clock work the students do take note and on schedule.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Really useful hub, Dianne. As Simone already said not just for teachers but for anyone really. I teach postgrads( Doctors) and usually do workshops and interactive sessions. I've learnt to keep my 'teaching bag' prepared with marker pens, post its, bluetac, writing material - they come in so handy. I always have a projector in the boot of my car as technology in some places is unreliable when I have to speak at different places to where I normally do- learnt it the hard way. And I always have a backup of my presentation ( if I am doing one) on a memory stick! I use outlook calendar and have since moved to my ipad! voted up/ useful of course!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      As usual you offer teachers great tips on how to do their job more effectively. Great hub! Voted up and shared! Kelley

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 5 years ago from United States

      Great information for all teachers.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      What a useful hub this is for any teacher. Well presented and packed with info!

    • dmhenderson profile image

      Dave Henderson 5 years ago from Missouri, USA

      I am a college adjunct instructor, but strong organization skills help at all levels. In my case, being organized is especially helpful in controlling time management issues.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Simone, it's always a boost to a writer when a fellow hubber is so encouraging with insightful adds to a hub. I appreciate you much.

      Mhatter99, glad you cam by here and always good to see you visit! Appreciate your comments on the hub.

      Vellur, thank you for the nice compliment. I value your thoughts on hub topics. I don't know what I would now do without those gadgets!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      You are so well organized and a wonderful teacher. Being organized is very important to be effective and efficient. Today's gadgets makes it easier to store information and carry around. Preparation before class helps to save time in class, Voted up.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      FANTASTIC advice- and not just for teachers! Everyone could benefit from most of these tips. Of course, an organized teacher has everything to gain. The most organized teachers I had were some of the best. Time flowed well in their classes and we had more fun, so I'm really glad you're encouraging teachers to make an effort to restore more order to their classrooms and processes!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I so appreciate your validation on this hub, North Wind. Organization does help to set the tone for the day (and year). It's what children need to help them focus and remain atttentive. Great insight on the topic!

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 5 years ago from The World (for now)

      I agree teaches12345, organization gets the job done. It encourages learning and helps to keep whatever you are doing from becoming stagnant. Your organization as a teacher can also help the children you teach in their organization habits. I always say that the more organized a student is the better he will learn because he is prepared for the task at hand. There is much less opportunity for distraction and the work that needs to be learned and taught is done in an efficient manner.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      The one management skill I have learned is to pack my teaching items the night before. It saves time in the morning and helps to start your day on a positive track. I appreciate your visit, Molly. Take care.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I love my rolling cart and don't know how I managed before this. It's like my mobile office between home and school. Thanks for your insight to this hub, Alicia.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I agree, ComfortB, these can be applied to a home office as well. Organization is key to every job. Be well.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      This hub is full of great information and I wish all teachers had your organizational skills. Up, useful, interesting.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thankful for your encouragement on the hub, Bill. I probably should read this for myself as well. Take care, my friend.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Good to see you here, jainismus. It's a small picture of an organized teacher but it does get you started. Thanks for your visit and have a great evening.

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      Yes, this is good advice for people with a home office, too. Getting your things organized for the next morning helps ensure that the new day starts off right. Up and useful!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You given some very good suggestions to help a teacher stay organized, teaches. I use the rolling cart transport mechanism too - it's extremely useful!

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 5 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      These great tips can also be applied to home office and work area etc. Thanks for sharing teaches12345. voted up & useful.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bravo! I wish every young teacher in the United States would read this, and a few of the more experienced ones as well. Great list of essentials in this hub! Great job Dianna!

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

      Great Hub with great tips, thank you for sharing.