How to Organize Your School Locker for Academic Excellence: Organization Tips for School Success

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So you’ve lost another math assignment in the deep pits of your locker. You do well in math class - and history and science and literature - when you turn in assignments, but losing homework is causing your grade to plummet. If only you knew how to stay organized. This guide will help you turn things around and become a locker management wiz.

Perspective is Everything

First things first. You will never become organized unless you have the right perspective. Many people, adults and students alike, believe that they simply aren’t the organized types. Often, students just accept the fact that they will never be organized because they simply weren’t born that way. The truth is that you won’t be organized if you submit to this line of thinking.

Being organized is not a trait that people are born with. People are born with traits like hair color and height. Organization is a trait that is learned. It is a habit. You must train yourself to be organized.

In order to become organized, you must first change your way of thinking. Instead of saying that you just aren’t the organized type, you must believe that you can train yourself to be organized.

Why it’s Important

Staying organized will help you succeed in school in many ways. For starters, an organized locker will minimize the likelihood of losing important assignments. If your locker is clean and organized, you will be less likely to lose any completed homework. If you’ve put time and energy into doing the work, it is a shame to lose the work in a messy locker and get a 0%.

A locker that is kept clean will also help you to get to class on time. Passing periods tend to be short. If your locker is organized, you’ll be able to find the supplies for your next class quicker. You won’t have to get a tardy and miss important class time because you’ve been digging through your mess for your science notebook. It will also minimize library fines, if you’ve checked a book out from the library.

Being organized tends to be contagious. If your locker is organized, you are more likely to organize your notebooks and folders well. Keeping your physical space organized may also lead to improved organization of your thoughts and ideas on homework and writing assignments.

Few students make the connection between organization and academic excellence. As a teacher myself, I’ve known many C and D students who could be A or B students if only they were more organized.

Step Number One - Clean Up Your Act

If you are just starting out the school year and have not put anything into your locker, you can skip this step and move on to the next section.

So, if you’re still reading, you’re probably in the middle of the school year and your locker just isn’t working for you. You’ve decided to start fresh. Great job! Let’s do this!

Begin by removing absolutely everything from your locker. Yes, it will be a huge mess and the mere thought of cleaning makes you want to quit before you’ve even started, but fight through it. The end result will be satisfying and completely worth it.

Throw away all trash. This may include past assignments, moldy lunches, or broken pencils. Get all of the junk you’ll never touch again into the trash can.

Next, you’ll want to make a pile of items to take home. Some things just do not need to be kept in a locker. See the locker priority list below for items that should be in your locker and items that should not be in a locker. Anything that is unnecessary or items that are not a top priority for storage should be taken home.

Make another pile of things you’ll want to keep. These items are high priority. You will put them back into your locker in the steps that follow.

Before you move on to the next step, it would be a good idea to give your locker a good wipe down. Grab some paper towels from the student restrooms. You’ll want some wet ones and some dry ones. Wipe it down with the wet ones and dry it out with the dry towels. Be sure to dry it out before adding your supplies as moisture will ruin textbooks and other school supplies.


While your locker is your personal space to store your stuff, it should not be filled with lots of personal items. Remember, this is school property and the locker is intended to store your school supplies first and foremost. Before you begin to organize your locker, you need to make a list of what items are most important for storing in your locker. Here’s a sample list:

High priority (1=highest, 7=lowest):

  1. Writing utensils
  2. Paper
  3. Textbooks
  4. Notebooks
  5. Backpack and coat
  6. Lunch bag
  7. Library books

Low Priority (1=highest, 6=lowest):

  1. Excess school supplies (like extra reams of paper or boxes of pencils) or secondary school supplies (less necessary items such as staplers and paper clips).
  2. Personal beauty supplies (like deodorant and lotions).
  3. Locker decorations.
  4. Toys and other fun stuff (footballs, electronics, etc.).
  5. Money or anything of value.
  6. Trash


Now that you know what you want to keep and what you need to take home, it’s time to start filling the locker.

Begin with your textbooks. Textbooks should be lined up with the spines upright similar to how they would be shelved in a library. With the spines facing you, you will be able to quickly grab the right book for the next class. Do not lay the textbooks horizontally as this can cause them to fall out of the locker, especially if they are piled on top of a slanted three ring binder. It also makes removing them from the locker difficult. By the time you need a textbook for your next class, it will almost always be on the bottom of the pile because you’ve been to all of the other classes and stacked those textbooks on top. Store them upright to avoid all of this hassle.

Store notebooks and binders in the same way. Since lockers are narrow, you may need to make a second row on top of the first row. This is where a locker shelf is useful. Keep homework assignments inside the appropriate binder. Do not store any assignment loosely in the locker. A separate folder just for homework may also be helpful so homework does not get lost.

Backpacks, coats, and lunch bags should be hung on the hooks inside the locker. You may want to consider the size of your back pack. It may be time to buy a new one. Large backpacks do not fit inside the locker very well and may be unnecessary anyway. You should not have to take home all of your supplies every day and so your backpack does not have to be enormous. The backpacks with wheels will almost never fit into the locker, so avoid these styles. Many students use them to avoid back strain, but, again, you should not be taking home all of your belongings on a nightly basis so this should not be a problem.

Pencils and pens can be stored in a variety of ways. A pencil bag that fits inside a three ring binder is probably the best option, especially if you use one binder for every class. You may want to carry pencils in your pocket and keep the extras in your locker. There are lots of items to help with this storage style. A free and easy option would be to use an old aluminum soup can. Just clean it out and set it on the bottom locker shelf to hold all of your extra pencils.


While decorating your locker is not a top priority, it’s always nice to have a personalized spaced. It is very important to express yourself.

The best place for personalizing your locker is on the inside of the locker door. The locker door is an ideal place to tape up pictures of your friends, family, pets, or hot celebrities. Some students may want to find a magnetic mirror for quick beauty checks or a magnetic dry erase board for fun messages or easy reminders. Some students like to change their decorations to match the season or current holiday.

Locker Management

Your locker is finally just the way you want it. It has been optimized for academic excellence by being smartly organized and it has been decorated in a way that expresses your unique style. Now, how do you keep it organized for an entire school year? This is where good locker management comes in handy.

A typical school day should look like this. You arrive at school and empty the contents of your backpack into your locker. Don’t just dump it all out, though. Shelve your books properly as you did when you organized the locker. Hang your bag and coat on the locker hooks. As you go through the school day, take only the supplies you’ll need for each class. After class, re-shelve each textbook and notebook properly. At the end of the day, take home only what you need for homework that evening.

Graded assignments can pile up throughout the school year. Maintain the size of your notebooks by keeping only essential assignments. Most of the time, you will not need those graded homework assignments. Don’t overload your notebooks with this unnecessary paperwork. Toss it out. Be sure to check with your teachers before throwing out notes. You may need some items for an end of semester exam.

Keep the trash out of your locker. Toss out broken pencils and old lunches. Take home anything you don’t have room for, such as old art projects, toys and electronics, and other personal belongings.

A good habit to get into would be a weekly locker check on Friday afternoons. Before you go home for the weekend, check to make sure your locker is in good shape to start the next week.