5 Tips to Clean Up Classroom Clutter

Classroom clutter in an inevitability within the teaching world. With classroom supplies, decorations, and dozens of student assignments waiting to be graded, it is almost certain that a little bit of mess and disorder will result. While the idea of organizing and reorganizing an entire classroom seems daunting, we have a few quick tips to keep your classroom in clutter-free condition inspired by organizing consultant and author, Marie Kondo. On her new Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, Kondo emphasizes the necessarily of organizing by category rather than location. In addition, Kondo speaks of the need to commit to the tidying process, and that such commitment will lead to the best results. Inspired by Marie Kondo, here are TCI’s top 5 tidy tips:

1) Bins, Bins, Bins

Though bins may seem an obvious answer, they are one of the most effective organizational tools. Buy bins of the same size for a more aesthetic appeal, and use different colors, if possible, to separate bins from one another. The addition of labels for each bin is especially useful. For example, use an orange bin for ungraded papers, a pink bin for coloring supplies, and blue bins for students to turn in their work. Bins are a great way to keep clutter off desks and flat-surfaces and tucked away, as well as a great tool to help keep track of classroom supplies.

2) Clear Desk, Clear Mind

As a teacher, your desk is a special place. Not only is it your space within the classroom, it most likely houses a few piles of student work, a variety of pens and pencils, some mid-afternoon snacks and a couple personal items. Keep your desk clear by establishing an area on your desk for ungraded and graded work, respectively. Place pens and pencils in available drawers or in a pencil holder to maximize desk space, and save a corner for any personal photos or items. Cluttered spaces can lead to feeling overwhelmed or in a a state of chaos, which is not conducive to a great classroom environment nor is a good example for student. Make an effort to gift yourself a clear work surface so that you can teach to the best of your ability.

3) Decoration Rotation

Some teachers may find that while some great student art covers their walls, such art is also making the room look a little cluttered. In order to display student’s artistic talents without making the room feel unorganized, rotate through artwork. Hang up a few masterpieces at a time and leave them on display for a few weeks before taking them down and hanging up other students’ work. This way, each student will have the opportunity to see their hard work on display without it being at the expense of your classroom wall.

4) Location Matters

When setting up your classroom for the school year, be sure to create intentional spaces within the room. Set aside a section to be the supply center where student can grab notebook paper, coloring materials, scissors, et cetera. Dedicate another space to be the classroom library by filling some small shelves with books and a few beanbags for students to sit on while reading. Organize students’ desks in another part of the classroom, and be sure to group desks in a way that facilitates student interaction and discussion. Finally, carve out an area of the classroom that belongs solely to you; otherwise known as your desk. Intentionally creating separate spaces within your room not only makes for an organized-looking classroom as each area dictates a certain purpose, but also aids students in helping keeping the classroom clean as they know what materials belong in each dedicated space.

5) End of the Year Clean Out

Often, teachers can accumulate a lot of additional books, papers, supplies, and teacher gifts at the end of each school year. And unsurprisingly, some of these items become clutter and messy overtime. Don’t be afraid to clean out your classroom at the end of each school year. It’s okay to recycle old student work and to donate any classroom supplies and books you don’t think you will need in the future. Begin by asking yourself, “Did I use this during this school year?” If you’re unsure or the answer is no, it is probably safe to discard. Cleaning out your classroom is an effective way to reset both your mind and your classroom in preparation for a new school year.

Organizing a classroom space can be extremely difficult. However, being sure to keep just a few small spaces tidy is key to keeping an overall organized and neat academic space.