I can hardly believe I’m writing this blog post but the time has come where we are back to school. With the chaos of going back-to-school comes a list about 20 miles long…things to arrange, buy, print, copy, laminate, and so on. There is no one easy way to get it all done, but I’m hoping this post will help a little.
This list of back to school organization ideas started when I was searching Pinterest for ways to keep myself organised for the year ahead. I always like to be organised in everything I do so stress is relieved and I can find things easily and I am ready to face the day ahead.
I love looking at ideas that other people have tried and tested. I have used ideas from various blogs, vlogs and Pinterest and sometimes I will add my own touch to improve on something or make it easier for me.
Creating the Space
Firstly, a classroom gathers dust over the summer so it is always essential to give your classroom a spring clean. I would recommend going to school dressed in old clothes and dedicate some time to clean, polish, sweep, mop and hoover your classroom and get it ready for all of your items. Open the windows to air the room and spray some mist to get rid of any stale odors. Leave an air freshener plugged in for maximum effect.
Feng Shui is a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment. Feng Shui can be used in the classrooms to enhance the student’s creativity and innovation skills so it is useful to adapt Feng Shui to enhance your class room and learning capacity. A good article to read on how to implement this is Fengshui Transformations
Debbie from One Little Project did a blog post on back to school organisation ideas which you can read here Back to school organisation ideas
I have already written a blog post on how to create a safe space in any classroom which you can access here.
I love sitting down and watching vlogs in the evenings. Recently, I came across vlogs on Back to School Prep. They are quite Americanised and many focus on elementary school but some have great tips and are worth the watch if you enjoy watching vlogs like me.
Through various vlogs I have noticed the importance of a welcoming classroom sign and this can be done creatively by you and your students or simply by purchasing a sign or some Editable Bunting.
It is inviting for students and visitors upon approaching your classroom and something I will be doing this year.
Ah storage. Oh how you make me happy and frustrated at the best of times! I have tried to come up with the best possible solutions for storage and I hope you enjoy!
Using clothes pegs to organize and decorate. Label and decorate some clothes pegs, then hang important papers and assignments there. You can also grab notecards and write your schedule for the day, then hang from the corresponding peg. This is a cute way to decorate and stay organized.
If you have a library in your classroom an idea could be that students have two clothes pegs with their names on them. When they borrow a book, they clip one of their pegs to the library basket and sign it out in a library checkout folder. The pegs also help them remember where to put the books when they return them. I seen this brilliant idea on @thebusyclassroom on Instagram.
Storage Carts Laura Vorlicek gave me the inspiration to invest in RASKOG carts from IKEA. She spray painted them AFTER they were assembled. She used rustoleum paint in “ocean mist” for the mint and plastikote paint in “cameo pink” for the pink cart. She spray painted some plastic containers to match using a plastic primer beforehand. For more information go to: @Laura Vorlicek on Instagram . You can buy the RASKOG carts from IKEA here
IKEA is an amazing place for storage in general with plastic boxes, containers, plastic holders. They also sell stationary, artificial flowers, frames and candles for next to nothing to decorate your classroom. Flowers and frames add colour and freshness to your classroom. Homebase also have excellent storage drawers. I have listed my favourite ones below:
Four Drawer Storage Tower £28.97
Seven Drawer Storage Tower £34.96
Getting to know your class:
Getting to know your class and building a relationship with them is nerve wrecking for both you and the students. Icebreakers are games or activities that break the ice and help people get to know each other. Ice breaker games are great for small groups or large groups where there are many people who don’t know each other. One good Ice breaker game is Bingo which I have pictured below.
You can find more Ice breaker games at
The activity below is one I stumbled across on Instagram and featured on Pinterest. I have yet to try it but it seems very good. It is called I Wish My Teacher Knew and comes with a PDF printable I Wish My Teacher Knew Worksheet
With a base class or indeed any class, it is important you set out and establish some rules – guide them and allow them to make their own! The students get involved and come up with their own rules and you can have this clearly displayed in your classroom on a poster or typed for the class to be reminded of daily!
Student work can liven up any classroom wall. This can include project work, art work or even designs they have drawn. I’ve already done a blog post on Artwork in the RE classroom
Pinterest is amazing for inspiration on posters for any subject or club and it is my go to place for classroom ideas such as this welcoming piece for your classroom door!
Here is an example of one of my classes and the artwork they did at the start of first year in SPHE to highlight their journey UP through secondary school.
The websites I have listed below have amazing planners, diaries and stationary. If it is one thing you do this year, I would definitely recommend making a list of goals you want to achieve.
It is no harm encouraging students to do the same; perhaps one academic goal and one personal. Ask them to write each goal on a post it and in their journal or somewhere safe. Ask them to fold up the Post It and put it in a jar that you keep in the classroom until the end of the year. At the end of the year students can reflect on weather they have achieved their goals.
If students have set their goals already then The Happy Jar might be a good suggestion for your classroom. The Happy Jar is a place where we can collect happy thoughts—maybe a little thing that brightened someone’s day or a major accomplishment or milestone or something that one of us is looking forward to. As the jar fills up with Post Its, it’s fun to pull out random slips at mid terms or the end of year and read some of the classes happy thoughts. You could do it at home yourself and let your jar fill up for a year!
As teachers we always strive to be organised. However, some students struggle with organisation on a daily basis and they might like these ideas;
- A homework station. It is a really simple idea on a slab of wood that perhaps a student could have at home to be organised. Shelly and Cason Smith designed this Homework station
- Every student should have a place to do their homework with a station like this. Not in their bed or on the couch watching television. A safe space where they are allowed to think clearly and reflect with all of their organised materials if possible. While this is not always possible, in most schools, after school study and homework clubs are available.
- In an age of iPads, Kindles and reading everything online, bookmarks might feel old-fashioned but schools still use textboooks. Your students could make some pretty bookmarks to always keep their place in their school reading, whether it’s a literary novel or a textbook. These are also great for homework journals and so easy to make using card or whatever materials are handy for you.
- Explain to students how to highlight properly instead of highlighting EVERYTHING. One way I find works is using a different highlighter for different things i.e key terms, dates, events etc.
- Encourage students to make a big To-Do list so they always know what needs to get done. Post-It notes are also handy reminders in the journals. Plus, it keeps you neat and organized!
- Flash cards are also an excellent study tool and weaker students really benefit from these as topics and words can be broken down and learned easily.
- This colourful calendar was purchased in Paper source for $25. Paint Chip Calendar
- However you could easily create your own calendar by getting free sample colour charts from any hardware shop like Woodies or Homebase and for free. Simply gather the colours by grouping, laminate them and you have your own calendar for little or nothing. You may need a cutting blade to trim some edges. It is advised to use a fine tip Sharpie marker. This calendar would be attractive in any classroom and is perfect for little jobs that students may have to do like cleaning up. Have a look at this idea on 11 Magnolia Lane
- This list (free to download and photocopy) separates what needs to be copied, done etc and is handy for any teacher for their folder and to have close by. This list was made by Theresa from True Life I’m a Teacher.
- USB Keys. The Holy Grail! (that and Google Drive if you are familiar with it)
- I LOVE planners, diaries and journals for organisation. Dealz do excellent desk lists and weekly planners (like this one below) for as little as €1.50.
Back to school stationary essentials and storage can be purchased on the following websites;
- Artifact Uprising
- Busy B
- Bureau Direct
- Choice Stores
- Chase and Wonder
- Dunnes Stores
- Glam and paper
- Hodges Figgis
- Just Mustard
- Mi Goals
- My Shining Armour
- Oh Hello Friend
- Paper Source
- Present and correct
- Rifle Paper co
- Quill London
- Shop Miss A
- Sticker Stack
- Studio Sarah
- Sparrow and Wolf
- The Green Gables
- The Fox and the Star
- The Stationery Store
- Mr Price
- Not on the Highstreet
- The Polka Dot Posie
- TK Maxx
- Urban Girl
- Urban Outfitters
Planner from The Polka Dot Posie
Have fun this year and always come back to this thought; that everything we do is about the students. If you always come back to that, then you’ll always be heading in the right direction. Best of luck, have a great year ahead and remember to enjoy yourself as you embark on the journey of a lifetime.
I hope this blog post has been informative and helpful. If anyone has any questions or queries please leave a comment below. If you have a suggestion on what you would like me to cover in my next blog post, do not hesitate to let me know 🙂