5 Tips for Back-to-School Classroom Organization
- August 10, 2022
- Anthony Bowie
Author: Dr. Christina Counts
It’s once again time to head back to school and putting a focus on your classroom organization now can set you up for a smooth and efficient school year. With the right organization tools and classroom furnishings, you can create a well-organized learning space that both you and your students will love to spend time in every day!
As you’re spending your last moments of summer break getting your classroom ready for the new school year, it’s important to consider how you will set up your space to stay organized all year long.
Learning zones promote student engagement and collaboration, and as a bonus, these areas are a great way to maintain classroom organization throughout the school year. With separate learning areas that have their own distinct purposes, you can easily create an intuitive organization system that keeps necessary supplies and learning materials close to the place where they will be used in the classroom.
Collaborative learning zones can include storage carts that double as mobile whiteboards where students can present and work through assignments together. Independent work zones may have cubbies, tray storage, or desks with built-in storage so students can store their personal items without cluttering the floor around their desk. For a makerspace or STEM zone, you might consider a CRE8 Makerspace to act as both a work surface and storage for supplies needed to engage in makerspace activities.
To draw students in and encourage them to read, your classroom library should be more than just one shelf of books in the corner. An inviting space is both well-organized and comfortable, with shelves that are easy to browse and seating areas where students can lounge to read.
Front-facing shelving like the KIO PIC is a great option for displaying the covers of picture books and chapter books, encouraging exploration with book browsing and enticing learners to pick a book, even students who may not even be able to read the title on the spine yet. If you have a more dense library of books and older students, the KIO Book Browsing Bin offers room for tons of books along with compartments underneath for additional resources, books, magazines, supplies, and more––plus, optional casters make it possible to move the shelf around when needed.
Decluttering old paperwork and documents is always on educators’ to-do lists, but it always falls down to last priority once the demands of the school year begin. Now is the time to dive into the project of clearing out old papers, organizing those you plan to keep, and digitizing old papers and binders full of handouts, lesson plans, and more.
Transferring paper documents to digital not only will open up significant storage space in your classroom, but it also will benefit you and your students. When your worksheets are digital, you no longer have to search through dozens of binders to find the original paper, walk to the copy room, and make copies for your students––instead you can just search the worksheet name on your computer and click print, saving you so much time and energy throughout the school year. Your students will benefit from the digitalization of learning handouts, which you can turn into shareable Google Slides and Docs for students to view and review as much as they need to––and they’ll never lose a handout again!
One of the main ways to keep your classroom organized is to ensure that all your supplies, tools, and learning materials have their own, specific home in your classroom. Stationary and built-in storage cabinets are great for heavy books and items you need less regularly, but these storage solutions are not as convenient for the supplies you need constant access to throughout the day. When your learning space is a series of different active learning “zones” around the room, you need to plan your organization to keep your daily needs easily accessible while still organized and tucked away.
This is where mobile storage solutions stand out: Items can be stored neatly in bins or cubbies, but you can bring the whole thing with you as you move to different learning zones throughout the day. Try the MST Mobile Storage Tower for a small footprint but plenty of vertical storage, or use the KIO Mobile Bin Cabinet to have the secondary portability of individual, removable trays that can be brought anywhere in the room. Everything you need is always right at arm’s reach, or you can move the cabinet in seconds when it’s not!
How well your teaching station works for you will set the tone for your entire school year. That’s why it’s critical that you consider all your organization needs when you are setting up the spaces where you will work and teach from in your classroom. Your main work area should include plenty of tools and systems to help you and your students stay organized throughout the year, including a place for students to submit work, a method for organizing graded assignments, storage for extra supplies, and for your sanity––some sort of cord management to keep you from tripping over all the different charging wires for your technology tools!
Depending on your setup, you may benefit from having a main desk where you can grade work and plan your lessons and then an additional mobile teaching station––like the 2G2BT Lecture Station or MST Mobile Storage Tower––that you can move to different learning areas as needed. These options provide storage space for learning materials, teaching tools, technology, and personal items while also functioning as a lectern. Modern classrooms are far more than the rows of desks facing the whiteboard that they used to be, and these new flexible spaces call for innovative organization and approaches to your teaching area.
Finding a place for everything in your classroom is key to keeping it organized all year long. By utilizing innovative storage solutions from MiEN, you can create a learning space that is not only functional, but also exciting and beautiful. Putting in the effort to create an efficient space now will pay off in the future and benefit everyone who walks in the door of your classroom!
Dr. Christina Counts, VP of Education for MiEN Environments, is a proven leader with a successful background in transforming learning spaces into modern engaging learning environments. Dr. Counts has worked in education for over 17 years with experience as a classroom teacher, district instructional leader, school administrator, and digital and innovative learning designer. In her most recent position, Christina leads a team of professionals that support schools making the transition to a flexible, collaborative, & student-centered learning space. She holds a doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership, National Board-certified, and Google & Apple certified. Dr. Counts envisions a learning space in which educators are empowered to transform education through design, technology and innovative instructional pedagogy to create learners ready for any future!