Teachers all know how sanity-saving classroom organization is, but they also have hundreds of other duties during the day that leave little time to maintain any kind of organization. Why not put your students to work? We’ve got a list of student-led organization hacks to make your life so much easier!
Even young students are capable of being little classroom assistants and helping their teacher maintain order. Doing a little work ahead of time will reap great rewards! Once you set things up and train your students with these organization hacks, they can take over, leaving them with more responsibility and you with more time to focus on teaching!
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Here are 19 ways to incorporate student-led organization in your classroom.
1. Separate your turn-in trays or folders
Save yourself oodles of time by creating more than one turn-in station. Instead of one folder or basket for finished work, create one for each subject. Choose one color for each subject and students can easily turn in their work in an organized way. You’ll have time to grab a stack when you grade with this awesome hack!
2. Use clothespins to track homework
Write each student’s name on a clothespin and clip them to a metal rack. Students move their clothespin to a basket when they have turned in an assignment. Teachers can then easily see whose clothespin is still clipped and will quickly know who still needs to turn in their homework.
3. Use shoe holder to organize student papers
Hang up a shoe holder and assign a student their very own pocket. Then students can oversee collecting their own graded papers, makeup work, assessments, and notes to go home. Make this even more student-led, by creating a classroom job for putting the papers in the correct pockets each day.
4. Put hooks on the back of students’ chairs
Use adhesive hooks to help your students keep their own reading materials organized and easy to find. Students can put their books and related assignments in the bag and can easily grab it when it’s time for small reading groups. These bags also work well for math station materials.
5. Use a pocket chart and folders to create a student-led absent work station
Hang up a pocket chart and assign a subject to each pocket. Place extra copies of class work and assignments in the pocket chart as you go. Absent students can easily collect one of each when they return to school.
6. Set up a library book collection bin.
Make life easier for your school librarian by putting students in charge of turning in their library books ahead of time. Set up a book collection bin and on your assigned library day students can take care of turning in their own books. Students can also take responsibility for carrying the filled book bin to the library and putting the books in the collection spot.
7. Put a pillowcase over the back of student chairs
Slide a pillowcase over the back of each chair, and students have an easy way to keep books, folders, papers, and other supplies organized and off the floor. This is also a great place to keep those large pencil boxes that take up too much room in desks.
8. Tape markers together
Eliminate missing marker lids by taping the whole set together. Give students the responsibility of making sure none of the lids are missing a marker when it’s time to clean up.
9. Make tidy tubs
Give each child or group of children a small plastic storage tub. As they cut things, sharpen their pencils, or peel paper off crayons, they can put the scraps in their tidy tub. At the end of the day, students are responsible for emptying their own tubs.
10. Set up group boxes
If you have your students divided into small groups for work time, supply boxes will be a huge time-saver. Put all the necessary supplies, papers, and materials into boxes and label them with group names or numbers. When it’s work time, students can easily grab their group’s box and get straight to work. Clean up is quicker and easier, too. Students simply put everything back in the box and are done!
11. Make a resource board
Use a pocket chart to store resource items your students need access to regularly so they can help themselves. Elementary students might need number lines for math or lists of sight words for reading while older students might need a hundreds chart or a list of homophones. Rotate the items as you introduce new concepts and your students can further their learning independently.
12. Create a missing pieces bin
Label a bin with a missing pieces tag and have students put lost things in it for other students to claim. Use this hack to put an end to random glue caps, marker lids, and pencil erasers covering the classroom floor!
13. Sort books by theme or topic
Do a book organization overhaul in our classroom so students can choose and put away books on their own. Sort books into bins labeled with a topic, theme, or character, and students will easily be able to put their book back in its home. It’ll also cut down on requests for teacher help because students will be able to find their own books.
14. Create indoor recess bins
Teachers often dread indoor recess. Make things easier and less of a hassle by preparing indoor recess bins. Fill the bins with puzzles, board games, brain games, coloring pages, or small toys. Students will be able to select a bin, do the activity, and quickly clean up when recess is over. It’s just a bonus that teachers won’t have to listen to exclamations of boredom!
15. Zip tie baskets to your students’ desks
Use zip ties to attach a basket to the bottom of each chair or desk. Students can easily have things like books, extra supplies, and math manipulatives at their fingertips. Avoid those water bottles rolling around on the floor by also attaching a cup to one leg of each chair. This is a handy way to help students keep their own desk space clean and organized.
16. Create a “Boo Boo Basket”
It can take up a good amount of time passing out bandages after recess. Instead, put a variety of bandages in a basket and let your students be in charge of helping themselves when they need to. Small stuffed animals, cleaning wipes, and plastic gloves are other great additions that make taking care of minor wounds the responsibility of your students.
17. Color code your computers or iPads
Prep your devices by using colorful washi tape or nail polish to color code each one to its corresponding charger. Students will be all set to properly put away and plug in their device without teacher help.
18. Make back and forth folders
Assign each student a two-pocket folder. Label one side with “keep at home” and the other side with “return to school.” As you pass out homework, field trip notes, or things that parents need to sign, students can put them in the “return to school” side of their folder. Graded papers and notes about upcoming events can go in the “keep at home” side. Once you instruct students how to tell the difference, they can organize papers in their folders on their own.
19. Make an extra supplies spot
Sort extra pencils, crayons, glue sticks, and another necessary supplies into bins or baskets and label each one. This station will prevent many interruptions and incomplete work because students can help themselves. They can also easily put things back where they belong without teacher help.
Putting your students to work keeping things organized will save your time and sanity. Student-led jobs will also help build self-reliance skills. It’s a win-win!