7 Teacher Organization Tips for the Classroom

Let's face it, staying organized in the classroom isn't as easy as it sounds. There are constant daily (even hourly) interruptions. There are people coming in and out of your classroom. Announcements at all the wrong times. The office calling your classroom letting you know a student is going home early. Who can relate?

Staying organized just makes things easier. When you are organized everything runs smoother. No lost instruction time, smoother transitions, better behavior from your students, and less stress!

classroom organization tips for back to school
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It is extremely important to have a daily schedule that is consistent. You need to have a general idea of what is going to be happening and when throughout each day. For example, language arts is always first thing in the morning. After recess is writing and grammar. After lunch, math and social studies or science. This not only helps you, but your students, as well. 

Now that you have established a general daily schedule, it is time to be more specific. I always post our daily agenda on our classroom white board. I go over it at the beginning of the day with my students. This not only helps them to know what we will be doing throughout the day, but myself as well. I do NOT put times. Times just make everyone anxious. I tell my students this is our general plan for the day. If we don't get to something, it is OK. 

It never fails that your admin comes in and wants to see your plans at all the wrong times, like during transition or your whole group teaching time. Having my lesson plans easily accessible is crucial. I type my plans and keep them in a binder near my teacher station. They are color coded by subject and always open to the day's lessons. I can easily hand it to my admin without interrupting instruction. 

Lists, lists, and more lists....that is me! I don't do anything fancy for my list making. I write everything on Post-It Notes. I have them in all sizes and colors around my room. They are at my desk, next to my computer, at my small group station...everywhere! I cross off as I have completed things (this makes me giddy) and add throughout the day. I usually stick my lists onto my laptop because I know I won't lose them there. Find a system that works for you and use it consistently. If I didn't make lists, I would forget half (or more) of the things I need to do. 

classroom organization tips

I label everything! I want someone to be able to walk into my room and find what they need if I am not there. My file cabinets are labeled with what can be found inside. My copies are labeled by subject or by day of the week. Manipulatives are organized in bins and labeled. Everything has a place. This also helps my students keep the room organized. We can't do it alone! I use these labels in my classroom and home office to keep everything neatly organized:

 classroom and home office labels for organization
They come in two sizes to meet all your labeling needs. They can be printed on self adhesive labels or just print, cut and go! Check them out, HERE

Copies, oh copies! There is so much paperwork associated with teaching! If you teach younger grades, there always seems to be more copies too. 

File your copies BY THE WEEK into hanging file folders, crates or paper organizing trays! I actually use hanging file folders AND paper organizing trays the most. I like to plan a month in advance. Don't freak out! This is not for everyone. If planning a month in advance freaks you out, just stick to one or two weeks. Find what works for you. 

I use paper trays for my WEEKLY copies. I label the trays by subject (ELA, Math, Science etc.) I label by subject because I don't always get to everything I have planned. If I missed something during my grammar lesson on Monday and I don't get to it until Wednesday, I can just go to my grammar paper tray and get my copies. I don't have to try and remember what day of the week I had originally planned it for. 

The rest of my copies (for my monthly planning) go into file folders in my file cabinet. My file folders are also labeled by subject. On Friday, I look at my lesson plans for the following week and pull out my copies and put them into the appropriate paper tray near my teacher work station.

I keep supplies JUST FOR ME to use during teacher instructional time: Flair pens, Post-It Notes, Mr. Sketch Markers for anchor charts, Expo dry erase markers, and magnetic manipulatives. This way they are right there when I need them. No instructional time is lost. I just swivel in my chair and quickly reach for what I need.

There you have it! SEVEN simple and easy to implement organizational hacks for all my teacher friends out there.

I would love to hear your organizational tips too! Please share them in the comments below. 

back to school teacher organization tips

Ideas to Teach Emotional Regulation In the Classroom

It seems like any normal day in my classroom. My students walk in. They are chatting, turning in their homework, getting settled and starting to work on their morning warm up. I say good morning to each of them, as they walk in the door, and greet them with a smile. 

I go to my desk to take attendance and notice Caleb isn't in his seat. He is wandering through the classroom chatting with different classmates. His things aren't put away. He goes to get a drink of water. Then he needs to use the restroom. I redirect him and get him settled in his seat.

Next thing I know, 30 minutes have passed. Most students are engaged in their morning work. Caleb, though, hasn't even started. He has 4 highlighters on his desk, a pencil sharpener, 3 pencils, 5 emoji erasers and his jacket is on backwards with the hood over his face. 

And all I can think is, "Lord, help me. This is going to be a L.O.N.G day!"

emoji emotions chart

I know I am not alone. We all have  AT LEAST one of these students in our classes. What do your instincts tell you to do? Punish Caleb? Send him to the office? Send a scathing message to his parents? Pull your hair out (always a viable option...I'm joking!). There are a few strategies you can use the help those students get back on track and improve classroom behavior.


Building trust with students can be accomplished in a variety of ways. After the weekend, many students come to school with "baggage" from home and need a safe way to discuss and release their emotions. Each Monday, I have a discussion circle. It's very informal. Participation is not required. It is a way to check in with each student. They can discuss something good that happened, something that is bothering them, or nothing at all. There are students that give a thumbs up, thumbs down or neutral signal and don't talk at all. I check in with those students one on one later in the day. The most important thing is that there is NO JUDGEMENT from anyone. This helps students be honest about their feelings and trust begins to be built. This process takes about 20 minutes once a week.

emotions chart


It is extremely important to continuously check in emotionally with your students all week (not just on Mondays). These EMOJI EMOTIONAL CUE CARDS are a key tool in my classroom to help with emotional regulation. Many students have difficulty expressing their emotions in words. These cards are kept on their desks and students can point to an emoji that describes how they are feeling that day. 

Students use the numbers to determine "the weight" of the issue which is bothering them. For example, Caleb may point to the angry emoji on the top right side of the card. He is fuming! However, after speaking with Caleb, you find out someone took his favorite pencil. This problem can easily be solved with some help and would only be a 1 or 2 on the number scale. 

This visual helps students see how emotionally upset they are compared to the ability to solve the issue. 


As teachers, it is important to create a classroom where students feel emotionally safe. All feelings are OK and will be respected. From day one in my classroom, students know they can go to the safe spot with no questions asked. I have an area in the back of my room students may use. They can rest, do deep breathing, mindfulness exercises and just take some time for themselves to reset. 


GoNoodle is a great resource for teaching students mindfulness strategies. Students learn ways to manage stress, build their confidence and self control, as well as, build compassion for others. The students absolutely LOVE the activities!


Teachers are the best role models for emotional regulation. Model for your students how to properly handle stress and emotions. Talk to them about how your are feeling when you are trying to teach them this incredible lesson and get interrupted 100 times with calls from the office, people walking in and out of the classroom and the same question being asked 20 different ways. 

Explain what you are feeling to your students. Talk about how you handle it. Also, make sure they know you are not perfect and make mistakes. This will help them realize managing emotions is a life long learning lesson! 

How do you teach emotional regulation in your classroom? I'd love to hear your ideas! 


emoji emotions chart