Tips to organizing your classroom over the summer. I blame my need for a well-organized classroom on my mother.As a kid, my mom convinced me that if I fell asleep with a dirty room, I’d have bad dreams. I was gullible; she was brilliant. My room stayed clean.The thing about an unkempt classroom, th

Jul 12, 2016

Tips to organizing your classroom over the summer.

I blame my need for a well-organized classroom on my mother.

As a kid, my mom convinced me that if I fell asleep with a dirty room, I’d have bad dreams. I was gullible; she was brilliant. My room stayed clean.

The thing about an unkempt classroom, though, is that clutter and disorder lend themselves to an absolute classroom management nightmare. No tricks necessary. And while you might cringe at the thought of scrubbing, organizing, and purging your classroom for the fall semester in the midst of your summer bliss, you’ll be grateful come August that you’ve set yourself up for success, even before a single student’s toe crosses your threshold.

Here are our best tips for giving your teaching space a summer makeover.


The Basics

Scrub down. Even if you’ve been on top of the germ war during the school year, summertime is an open invitation for a deep cleaning. Wipe down everything with a disinfecting solution, especially high traffic areas like water fountains and drawer handles. Wash stuffed animals and rugs, and consider swapping beanbags and throw pillows with classroom décor that’ll harbor less allergens, which will be easier to clean throughout the year.

Restock and reorganize desk drawers, cabinets, and bins — and do it with a plan. This is the year! Organize your shelves by subject or unit. Clean out your filing cabinet (toss anything you haven’t used in years), and set yourself up with an efficient system (hint: color coding works wonders). Label everything. If file folders are weighing you down, consider this expert move: Put master copies of handouts in three-ring binders with sheet protectors — when you’ve got to make copies, you can bring the entire binder with you. Or make it a goal to really wipe out clutter and scan documents to electronic folders.

Don’t forget the electronic devices in your classroom — a set of Chromebooks, a Smart Board, headphones — and you’ll know that they’ve all been smudged and smeared by countless little fingers and big sneezes. Disinfect these surfaces with an approved cleaner. Pro tip: Disinfectant wipes are even safe to use on keyboards — just be sure to wring out any extra moisture — and Magic Erasers have been known to eradicate Sharpie.

Next-Level Cleaning

Purge. Many first-year teachers inherit whatever was left behind by the colleague that once inhabited your classroom. There’s no rule that says you have to keep it! On the flip side, veteran teachers amass a lot of stuff. Wherever you stand, consider tossing/recycling outdated or underused materials. Better yet, place items in the teachers’ lounge next to a sign reading “Free to a Good Home,” or donate to a local day care center or Goodwill.

Make your room easy to clean. Worried that organization will fall to the wayside by the second week? Start with tidy in mind. Invest in plastic storage bins and drawers (clear ones are best!) to store classroom materials. They’re easy to wipe off and come on wheels.

Avoid clutter from the get-go (you know your limit) and get creative with containers. Utensil dividers, ice cube trays, and hanging shoe organizers (available at many a thrift store) make organizing supplies that much easier.

Make it easy for kids to help keep your room in tip-top shape throughout the year. Stock a designated area with shaving cream (it cleans tables and doubles as a canvas to practice sight words), wipes, feather dusters, etc.

Think digitally. Another organization project? Your school-issued computer. If you’re anything like me, this might take a while. Before school starts, sit down to do a thorough clean up of your desktop, email, and files. This site’s got plenty of tips to get you started. Go on, fill up that trash bin. Don’t forget to back up files to a secure source, like a personal storage drive or a district server.


Only some teachers are naturals when it comes to setting up perfect havens for learning — but all teachers are excellent thieves. So here’s a few functional and fabulous sites to inspire you to go above and beyond: One, Two, Three.

With a little elbow grease and forethought, you’ll be ready to deliver curriculum in style in an inviting, intentionally designed classroom.

Now that you’re set up for organizational success, you’ll want to know how to get the most out of your day. Learn how with LeAnna Wolkis at the Arizona K12 Center on Oct. 18.

Heather Sparks is a writer, educator, and mom of two. An Arizona native, she holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in gifted education from Arizona State University.

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