9 classroom organization tips for the new year

I’ve invited Calloway House to the blog today to share some ideas for starting the new year by thinking about what works (and what doesn’t) for organization in your classroom. Calloway House is a trusted educational supply resource for teachers and schools with a wide range of classroom supplies and organizational products. The company has compensated me for helping to spread the word about their wonderful resources.

classroom organization tips

It’s tough to think about returning back to the classroom already. But though the new year may seem to present a whole new set of stressors, fear not! Those triggers can be managed through organization.

So, instead of setting unrealistic resolutions that fade away by mid January, organize your classroom for the new year by keeping what works and changing what doesn’t.

With a little planning, you can prepare from now until the end of the school year. The rewards will be double: a new start in 2016, and new ideas to carry over to the following school year. Read ahead for these teacher organizational tips and strategies.

1. Down with the old, up with the new.

Tear down those holiday decorations the last day before winter break. Prepare classroom décor for upcoming holidays and important dates: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter/Spring.

2. Make a schedule.

How often do you change seasonal decorations? Instructional information? Prepare a schedule; make a list of supplies you need, like sticky labels, extra pens, a small tool kit, and more; and plan for time. Give yourself deadlines to avoid stressful late-night rushes or weekend marathons.

3. Reorganize desks.

Switch up the seats, making sure to separate kids you know have personality conflicts. Try something different depending on your classroom size, such as grouping desks in small clusters or making one large rectangle. This free classroom setup tool is a great way to get started.

4. Analyze bulletin board space.

It’s not too late for a classroom overhaul if you feel you haven’t made the best use of your space. Use spaces like sides of filing cabinets, closet doors, backs of book cases, underneath white boards. The more creative and eye catching your classroom looks, the better you can reach your students. Be consistent in where you display subject items so students always know where to find information.

5. Showcase students’ work.

Their work changes often; the background doesn’t have to. Choose brightly colored and textured fabrics to keep up the remainder of the school year. Change it up with borders and seasonal decorations.

6. Paper power.

The new year is a fresh start for everyone: teachers, students and parents. Reevaluate your system for materials students take home for parent review and papers to return. Assess how often different categories of papers should go home: daily, weekly and monthly. Parents get overwhelmed with papers. Alleviate confusion and ensure you get back the papers you need.

Sort and store book caddies: classroom organization tips

7. Review/revisit the rules.

The students will be starting over after a long winter break. Treat this like a new beginning, reviewing classroom rules and procedures. By now, you’ll know what wasn’t working with your class. Ask yourself if your expectations of conduct are realistic and age appropriate. Are your chosen consequences effective or do you need to revisit them? Is your behavioral system resonating with the students?

8. Catch their attention.

Implement new ideas to catch your students’ attention, such as a call-back song. You sing, “Hey,” they respond, “Ho” to quiet down and get ready to work. Rowdy kids not responding to switching the lights off and on? Change it up with soft musical instruments, such as chimes or a small bell. You can also give these techniques at Teach.com a try.

9. Enlist your students’ help.

Help them get over the post-holiday blues by being excited about classroom changes. What can they help with? Start with their desks, then move on to classroom organization. Do the book shelves need cleaned up? Is the lost-and-found bin overflowing? Give them a sense of responsibility and accomplishment by assigning tasks they can handle.

By following these tips, you can take advantage of keeping what works, implementing new strategies, and tweaking classroom rules and practices. Feel good about being organized in the new year, and involve your students to make 2016 a great second semester!

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Angela is a National Board Certified Teacher with 11 years of classroom experience and 7 years experience as an instructional coach. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has created printable curriculum resources, 4 books, 3 online courses, the Truth for Teachers podcast, and The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. Subscribe via email to get her best content sent to your inbox!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sue Yee January 18, 2016 at 6:45 am

Hi Angela,

I am a new subscriber to the 40 hour workweek club. I notice on the Facebook blogs that many teachers are talking about the lists they are preparing and working on. I have not received any info from you about this. Did I miss something? I love your support so far and I’m an executive teacher in my 40th year of teaching!! Never too old to learn.

Kind regards,


2 Angela Watson January 18, 2016 at 9:41 am

Yes, it should be in the bonus section of your Gumroad library and was also sent via email. You can contact me at angelawatson@live.com if you need more specific details. Welcome to the club!


3 Angela Watson January 30, 2016 at 6:58 pm

Hi, Sue! Can you email clubhelp@outlook.com and we’ll get you set up with what you need? Thanks so much!


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