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Tips for Teacher Organization

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 9/11/2012

Whether you are a veteran teacher or a brand new one, going back to school is overwhelming. Starting the new school year for a teacher can be challenging. Even if you get hired at the last minute, there are many things you can do to improve your teacher organization before the students arrive.

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    What to Do Two Months Before School Starts

    Teacher organization should not be at the top of your list two months before school starts. You should be enjoying your time off.


    Yes, relax and have a great summer. Enjoy your family and friends. School is stressful. Many teachers have told me that summer vacation was invented so that teachers do not lose their sanity during the school year.

    If you are lounging by the beach or pool side, you can read novels, textbooks or professional development magazines that will help improve teaching or content knowledge. However, the focus of this time should be to unwind. The next few months are for all teachers: get organized.

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    One Month Before School Starts

    Organize where everything will have its place. A well organized classroom has places for all of the important items, such as paper, gradebooks, books, scissors, glue, markers, etc.

    Paper, Paper and More Paper

    Specifically, figure out where to put student papers that needed turned in, graded, and handed back to the students. In addition, decide where handouts will be placed for students who are absent. And, where will the piles of copies go before they are handed to the students?

    Buy bins, baskets and folders to help organize the papers that quickly turn into a mess. I know this first hand, as I usually have every flat surface covered in some type of paper.

    Learn How to Use the Grade Book

    If your school is like most, it has gone to an electronic grade book. They are super tools, if you know how to use them. Some school districts automatically load student names and basic information for the teachers; however, if your school does not, this takes quite a bit of time.

    Practice loading a "fake" assignment so that you can learn how to use all of the functions and keys. Check out how to weight assignments, set a grading scale and how to take attendance.

    Make Basic Outline of Units for Semester or Year

    Many schools have a curriculum map for each subject area and grade. Locate your specific curriculum map and plan your units accordingly. If the curriculum has not been mapped out for the year, then find out if your state has standards for your subject area. Use the standards and indicators for your content area to plan the school year. It also helps to talk to seasoned teachers down the hall too.

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    One or Two Weeks Before School Starts

    Get in your room and spend some quality time.

    Make Bulletin Boards

    Find the die cut machine, learn where the laminator is and make friends with the copy machine or person. These items are important to a successful start to school and to help make some beautiful bulletin boards. If you are not crafty, buy some inspirational posters and use student work to decorate the room later.

    Design Seating Charts

    Move around the furniture and decide how to set up the room. Then, decide where everyone will sit the first day. I am pretty boring. It is alphabetical order until I learn who should not sit by whom. Then, I make a "real" seating chart. Plus, it is easier for me to learn names if the students are sitting in alphabetical order.

    In addition, take time to set up your teacher desk. Decide where everything will go. My desk is a constant mess, but I know where almost everything is.

    Plan Lessons for the First Few Weeks

    Make lesson plans for the first few weeks. If your school mandates that lesson plans are posted on a website, do it before school starts so that it is not a worry later. In addition, copy all of the needed handouts for the first week.

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    The Beginning of School Makes Many Teachers Anxious

    The first day of school will be here very soon. Take a deep breath and use these tips to start your year with success.

    Being Nervous or Anxious is Normal

    The first day of school can send butterflies fluttering in even the most seasoned teacher's belly. Some of my colleagues tell me that they still have trouble sleeping the night before the first day of school. I personally lay awake for about an hour or more thinking about all the things I need to do before my students greet me at my classroom door.

    The key is not to become so overwhelmed that you begin to dread the beginning of school. It should be an exciting time. Teacher organization is something that will help you so that you do not feel overwhelmed. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you should talk to a mentor or another teacher who is down the hall. If you have tried these tips, your beginning of the school year should be well organized and the school year should start great!