Organizing Your Back to School Power Plan - Caffeine Queen Teacher
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Organizing Your Back to School Power Plan

Organizing your classroom can be done in less time than you think. Follow this simple organizational plan for primary, elementary, middle school, and high school teachers.

The Back To School Aisle is back in action at my local Walmart! ((Screams! Whines! Hisses!)) I like to begin settling into my classroom early. It feels good to get the room mostly set up and organized, then go back home to enjoy more summer break!

Follow these steps for Classroom Set Up
Time for honesty – I’ve been known to waste way too much time prepping, so I made a list to improve my efficiency and thought many of you might also benefit!

First, you need a tall mug of coffee or tea – or some beverage FULL of caffeine and energy! I am the Caffeine Queen Teacher for a reason . . .

Caffeine Queen Teacher's cup of coffee

1. Sketch out a quick diagram.

Focus on all teacher and student workspaces – like teacher desk area, small group area, library, etc. Include all of the big furniture pieces and shelves. I also include large carts that need a planned spot. I like to keep carts and some smaller shelves between workspaces so they are handy when we need them.

2. Clean and Dust!

I know – YUCK! It’s a drag when you really want to jump in and arrange and make your room look like a classroom, but this is the best and easiest time to do the dreaded cleaning. It will save you time in the long run.

3. Start arranging the BIG furniture pieces.

After wandering around aimlessly for a few minutes blowing dust around, I begin by moving all of the big furniture items around the room. Of course, don’t hurt yourself trying to move filing cabinets, etc., ask others for help and know your limits! But it’s hard for me to get started decorating until I have the general arrangement of the room.

My teacher’s deskfiling cabinets, the small group table, and the student desks are the first to be arranged.

empty teacher's desk

I decide where my teacher desk goes, and the rest of the room falls into place from there. At my school, the teacher desk needs to go where the power cords and wires are. But once the desk is in place, it’s easier to arrange everything else.

4. Next, come the shelves and carts.

reading corner in the classroom library

Organized books – wish they’d stay that way!

My bookshelves are really big, so they get arranged next. The books and bean bag chairs can wait a while, but (honesty time!) when I found the boxes, they went on the shelves fairly quickly. I usually wait to put out books, etc. in case I decide to move the shelves – which I’ve been known to do. I try to create cozy corners where students will want to read.

Carts – the more colorful the better, IMHO – they can be used in so many different ways! I recently inherited this cart with the missing drawer. I’m planning to use it for small group supplies and possibly Monday – Friday master planning. My only trouble is running out of floor space for all of my rolly-carts and shelves.
This one is big enough that it needs a special place in the room. I plan to keep it between my teacher desk and my small group table for easy accessibility for both workspaces.

Teacher cart organization for classrooms

Now that I have so many carts, I can be creative with their purposes. . . sounds like another blog article! 🙂

5. Bulletin Boards

I generally keep up the same bulletin boards all year. I decorate out in the hallway for seasons (with student work and smaller displays), but in the room, my bulletin boards are considered Prime Real Estate! If the bulletin board isn’t for reference or to serve some other functional purpose, it isn’t going up in my classroom!

CUBES word problems for math are useful reference posters

Please note: the place value posters are NOT included in the CUBES poster set!

I began by putting my CUBES/CUBED Math strategy posters near the floor but quickly realized that students in the back wouldn’t be able to see them, so they ended up above the whiteboard where they were last year (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?)

CUBES word problem posters to prepare the classroom for Back to School
Even if you don’t have a plan for your bulletin boards yet, at least get up the background paper or fabric and borders up. You can decide on the decorations or posters later, but you will definitely feel better when the bulletin boards are started!

bulletin board of reading strategy posters
And while I was climbing on desks, I added a gentle reminder to FOCUS! I’m sure you’ve seen it on Pinterest – not my original idea – LOL! It’s obviously Time To Focus!

time to focus photo

6. The Teacher Desk. Ugh.

I really don’t feel like I’ve made any progress until my teacher desk has been put together – mainly because I’ve already had to tear it apart to find the stapler (for hanging bulletin boards!) and tape (for who-knows-what!)

Here is what I found when I pulled out my middle desk drawer (after removing a gigantic pile of papers that I shoved in on the last day!)

Everything from old Christmas candy, penguin and cannon shaped pencil sharpeners, seashells?? Wha . . . . ??

messy teacher desk

Eeks – I luv me some school supplies!

At this point, you’re obviously thinking that you should not be taking ANY tips on organizing a teacher’s desk from ME! (I don’t blame you – my teacher desk tips end right here!)

7. Class Library Love.

Now is the time to arrange the books and other knick-knacks around the room. You saw my library shelving area above with the bookshelves, these are book bins. I arrange mine by reading level – the new labels will have to wait for another day!

book bins

8. Organize. . . Everything.

classroom supplies in a case
You saw my desk – I don’t have room for actual, useful office supplies, so I made one of those handy storage boxes. It’s not the most beautiful, but I was in a hurry (who’s not, right?)

And on the subject of organizing – here is my math drawer. It’s WWWAAAAYYYY more organized than ever.

filing cabinet completely filled up

It almost brings tears to my eyes!

It’s amazing how the hanging files helped – I tried to get by without them for years, but believe me, it’s worth the $5 for hanging files that actually fit the filing cabinet! The organized feeling is PRICELESS!

9. Decorate!

Finally! This is my favorite part! I like filling the empty areas and making the room look more homey. I’ve read that when students feel comfortable in the classroom – as in rooms with homey-touches, they perform better! That’s kind of how I operate. I want to feel like my classroom is my home-away-from-home, and I want my students to feel that way as well!

classroom decorating idea

Click on the picture to visit Miss Decarbo’s website

I love these classrooms!

classroom decorating ideas

Click on the picture to visit The First Grade Parade website!

You’ve seen other blogs with the little lamps and cute reading areas. If my room was big enough, I’d absolutely add those touches. Do what you can. We all know the way some of our students live – they benefit from those loving touches.

Check out my latest blog post for more Back to School Tips for Organizing Your Classroom!

Click on the picture for MORE Back to School Tips! Click on the picture for MORE Back to School Tips!Back To School Teacher Tips to Jump Start Your School year!

Please share your ideas and tips! What have I forgotten? Leave me some comments below!


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Click the image for Free Teaching Organization Pages Kit!
Multi-digit Multiplication & Division on Graph Paper Bundle of worksheets for students
CUBES poster set for solving math story problems