Sunday, September 20, 2009


I'll admit it...   I have a tough time staying organized in my classroom.  I love organization;  file systems, bins, shelves, little baskets.  I've bought them all.  But it seems that my classroom still lacks some organization.  Now don't get me wrong, my classroom does not look like a tornado went off; I think it looks pretty good compared to what I've seen in other classrooms.  I just feel like I have some things working against me, some of them particularly because of the population I teach, people I work with, or responsibilities I have, including the following:

  • When my students leave at the end of the day, my parapros leave with them, and it feels like a whirlwind at the end of each day when I walk back into the classroom and see everything we used still sitting out, things left on the table that we should have packed up in the student's bags, staff items sitting out, etc.
  • I don't have a great filing system.  I have now acquired two tall filing cabinets in my room, only to realize that neither of them have the built in holders on the side to actually hold the hanging files in place.  I've bought the adjustable metal frames before, and have them regularly break on me, so I currently only have them in two out of my 8 file drawers.
  • Five out of my six students cannot clean up on their own.  One of those five would be able to but she is in a manual chair that she cannot control (can't reach breaks, can't move wheels), but we are working on her telling the peer or adult what she wants them to do when her things need to be put away.
  • I have at least 6 adult staff in and out of my room throughout the day, and regardless of how neat they are or how much they clean, in the rush of our day things get left out regularly.
  • I am not the most organized person!  At home or at school, I love to organize things, but I also tend to put on my 'blinders' at times and just not notice that huge pile of papers that has been sitting on my desk for a week.  
Now, in my defense, I do have some things going for me:
  • I have a wooden shelf on wheels with 50 cubbies, where I keep small items.  I have bins for Step by steps, jelly bean switches, batteries, switch accessories, different types of tapes (duct, painters, etc.), sensory items, etc.
  • I have a bookshelf with my books organized into colorful baskets labeled with themes like Sports, School, character fiction, holidays, etc.
  • In our bathroom, each of my students has a fabric bin with all of their personal care items: diapers, chux, wipes, deodorant, brush, anything else they need.
  • Each of my students also has a shelf in one of my built in cabinets that has items like a pillow, a blanket, full change of clothes, med supplies (but not meds) like Jevity, tubing.
  • They also have a hook with their name on it for their coats and book bags on my wall.
  • I've tried to institute a system of 'a place for everything, and everything in it's place' by telling staff when I am making a place for something, labeling everything I can, and encouraging students and staff to put items back where they first found them.
One area I'm still running into major problems is the piles on my desk.  I was motivated today, and bought a file holder from target that I plan to keep on my desk.  I was inspired by another teacher in my building, who I noticed had hanging files on her wall labeled with things like 'to copy', 'to file', 'to do today', etc.  I'm currently trying to come up with what to label these files I will keep at my desk, and I'm looking online for inspiration.

My question to you is:  what is your best organization tool for your room?  Is there anything that works like a charm to keep you organized, or do you struggle too?  I would love to hear some great ideas or suggestions you have, so please share your wisdom!


  1. Oh I like this post but I'm thinking that I might need to create a whole post of my own to respond to it because there is so much to say. Suffice it to say that we are a lot alike. Although I really like the concept of being organized, we often fall short in my classroom. I will put up a post in the next couple of days about things that I do that work, things that I'm currently trying to do and things that I would like to do in the future for organization :).

  2. 12 years of teaching and I am still just a beginner at this organization stuff. I think part of the issue is that we are not given the time, the support or the supplies to be organized. I think we have to cut ourselves a little slack.

    However here are some things I do that work for me. First of all everything, and I mean everything, has a place and that place is labeled with sign and picture symbol. A drawer for switches, a cabinet for paint, etc. Next I try to cut down on the sheer amount of paper I am responsible for by scanning things into the computer on a mini-scanner (a Neat-co) and then recycling it. I only keep what I legally have to keep and file, everything else goes on the computer with a back up to g-mail and a back up to an external hard drive. Next I extended student lunch time and now students must be 100% prepared to go home at 1:00 (the end of lunch), this means step-by-steps and high tech devices recorded, back packs packed, notes home written, and everything cleaned up. That way only the last two groups of the day, one of which is aways journals, need to be picked up after school. The paras didn't really think this would work at first and we confused a few therapists with all our cleaning and packing at lunch time, but it is nice not to have the room a disaster area after the kids leave. The kids help out within their abilities, be it that we drag the big trash can over and they throw things away or they play messages about what needs to be done on step-by-steps and boss us around.

    Finally I work one night a week late, I plan it into my life. And by late I mean eight at night or later. I know many teachers can't do this because of home commitments, but I am lucky enough to be able to. So I am able to keep on top of things during that time. By October I am usually able to head home earlier and then around alt assessment time I start staying later again.


  3. We have a vocational skills class at the end of the day, and one of the job checklists entails doing things like straightening up desks, pushing in chairs, putting away stray objects (calculators, pencils) left on desks. It makes the room more organized for the next day, and gives them work skills like following a work checklist and checking work for thoroughness.

  4. I would really like to see some of the ways you have things organized in your room. Pictures????

  5. I love these bins... do they mount? I need to get my mess OFF my desk. I like the idea of having the 3 categories. As a second year teacher in a mod/sev/profound middle school classroom I am overwhelmed by all of what my job requires. I feel that being organized *might* help.