Tools and Strategies for Classroom Organization

For teachers, organizing lesson plans can be just as challenging as drafting them. And when it comes to actually keeping a lesson on track (by starting and ending activities on time, regaining control of an unruly classroom or getting kids to turn in assignments the next day), a whole other set of challenges presents itself.

Teaching is so much more than helping kids learn: It’s also being your own administrative assistant, a disciplinarian, a scheduler and, at times, a referee.

We asked our Teach100 Mentors about their greatest challenges with classroom management, and what tools they use to organize their lesson plans and classroom resources.

Teach100 Mentor Classroom Management
What is your secret weapon for organizing your lesson plans and classroom resources?
  • The Cloud:

“Dropbox is my real secret weapon. I keep my flash games, interesting videos and stories in it, and when I feel I get stuck, I just jump in there to change the atmosphere of my class.” — Ridvan Saglam, English in Life

“I love Google Drive! I can access my plans anywhere, and it allows me to share with others for collaboration. Also, Symbaloo is a wonderful way to organize all of my resources in one place. This helps the families of the students I teach, so they know where to go to find Kidblogs and apps and web sites we are using.” — Sharon Davison, Kindergartenlife

“LMS [Learning Management System] — everything is available online, no textbooks. Google docs — no paper.” — Guy Trainin, Guy's Edu Blog

“Don’t use paper. Organize everything using a system such as Google Drive, Evernote or Dropbox so that your work is constantly organized for you.” — Jeffrey Bradbury,

  • Tech Tools and Apps:

Edmodo and flipping the classroom have been a big help for my students.” — Jeff Bird, Rasmussen College School of Education

“Online planner: makes it easy to track common core standards and bump or extend lessons. Edmodo is great for organizing assignments and has many apps that ‘play well’ with it. Helps to ‘flip’ or ‘in flip’ classrooms. [It's] also great for collaborating with other teachers around the country or world.” — Marcia, Learning in Bliss

“[I use] Learning Catalytics to deliver questions and collect data that help me make better just-in-time decisions in the classroom.” — Julie Schell, Turn to Your Neighbor: The Official Peer Instruction Blog

Gibbon a complete, open source school platform with advanced planning tools.” — Ross Parker,

  • Color Coding:

“I teach freshmen, juniors and sophomores in four different classes (Speech, Study Skills, American Lit and World Lit). I color code everything! My paper folders are different colors, my computer files are different colors and my classroom announcements are different colors. We aren’t paperless (yet), but I am always sure to put digital copies of the assignments online. This way students who have misplaced worksheets can still learn from them and get credit! Teaching Study Skills is also a great chance to learn about different apps to help me be more productive. I use the Pomodoro technique sometimes, but usually using a site like Minutes Please to reward myself with some Internet time without getting sucked in is my best way to stay on track.” — Carissa Peck, mELTing Activities

  • A Place for Everything:

“I created a unit plan template. I make copies for the entire unit before I begin teaching it.” — Melissa Nankin, The ESOL Ninja

“A clipboard for each class where I can put materials that are to be handed out to that class. A three-ring binder for lesson plans.” — Mary Tedrow, Walking to School

“I try to have a place for everything, and all of the students know where the resources and materials (that we frequently use) are located. This minimizes transition time and maximizes quality instructional time.” — Peter Cincotta, What's So Good About Public Education in America?

  • A Unique Way of Thinking:

“I always have a backward plan. Knowing the outcome always helps organize and problem solve along the way. That and I do the assignments I give so I can troubleshoot before the kids try something out. I’m always reflecting.” — Starr Sackstein,

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