I wish I was one of those 'born organised' people. Sadly, I am not, and my classroom (or at least, my teacher desk) has definitely reflected my struggles to stay organised at times. But over the years I have learned a few things to help even the disorganised among us keep a more organised classroom.
1. Label Everything
Whether you use a label machine or some of the amazing looking labels you can find over at TpT, try to label everything. There's nothing better than being able to put your hands on what you need right away. Up the organisation by using colours in your labelling - you could divide your subjects by colour or your different year levels.
2. Discard When You Can
Your students have done their diagnostic tests, you've recorded their scores - do you still need to keep the test papers? Maybe you do - so file them away (more on that in a moment), but if there's no need to hold onto them, feel free to relegate them into the bin. This can apply to all sorts of papers - file or toss.
Taking a bigger look - what are you keeping in your classroom that you don't need anymore? Teachers can be champion hoarders, but consider whether you really need all your resources. Are you keeping (and not using) things that are easy to replace? Are you keeping things that you don't want to move if you get a new classroom or move to a new school? Less stuff makes it easier to keep things organised, so devote 30 minutes or so a week to removing some of the items you just don't need.
3. Get Help With Your Filing (And Other Stuff)
Have a lot of student papers which need filing? Get your students to help you. Students can definitely put their own work into folders and bring them back to you - you can even organise them to bring things back in alphabetical order.
Make sure your students also take responsibility for the classroom - it belongs to them as well. Shared work areas should be tidied before they move on to new activities and personal work areas should be tidied each day. Organisation is an important skill for studying and learning, so it's ok to bring it in as something you all learn together.
4. Provide Your Students With Personal Lists (and Make One For Yourself Too)
I spotted this one the other day and was amazed I hadn't thought of something so simple before! A new school student had a thin, laminated list of things they needed to bring to school each day attached to their bag. You can adapt this idea to steps which need to be done to organise each working area or desk. Students can refer to the lists before moving on to new activities or classes.
You can totally make one for yourself as well. What do you need to get done before class starts? Or what do you need to get done before you leave each day to make the next morning run smoothly? Even a list of things you can do when you have 5 minutes spare time can help you be more organised if that happens. Writing it down means you don't have to keep it in your memory and makes it more likely that things will regularly get done.
5. Set a Timer and Check Out Pinterest
It's totally ok to learn from our more naturally organised colleagues and other naturally organised people. Set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes (so you don't get sucked into the Pinterest Vortex), create a new organisation board and get searching. Five minutes into a search on Pinterest and I'm totally making Ikea plans!
Remember not everything on Pinterest will work for you, so allow a cooling period before you go to the shops and buy a lot of expensive storage systems. Take one or two ideas and think about how they'd operate in your classroom. Think about whether you'll need to adapt them in anyway or how you can ensure you'll use them properly. Make sure you've got the best possible solutions for you!