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August 22, 2012

7 Tips for Maintaining an Organized Teacher’s Desk

Written By: Brandi Jordan
X 7 Ways to Maintain an Organized Teacher's Desk

7 Ways to Maintain an Organized Teacher's Desk

Let’s face it, the teacher’s desk can sometimes become a catchall place for everything under the sun.  Despite valiant attempts at keeping it clean, it is a sad fact that most often the clutter wins.  If you are determined to take control and keep a clutter-free desk this school year, check out the seven tips and tricks below for maintaining an organized space.

How to Keep an Organized Teacher’s Desk

Essentials Only

Keep only the absolutely essential items on your desktop.  A stapler, tape, pen and pencil organizer, and file holder are good starting points.


Relocate the Cute

You know all of those cute teacher-themed gifts that adorn your teacher desk?  It is time to relocate them to a small shelf or the top of your tall filing cabinet behind your desk.  When organizing the desktop, those “cutesy” items must find a new space to live.

Properly Contained

One of the keys to keeping a space organized, whether it is the entire classroom or the teacher’s desk is to have the right containers and organizers for what you need to store.  For the teacher’s desk, an organizer that has room for pencils and pens, file folders, and essentials makes it a lot easier to keep things tidy throughout the day.  Determine what you need to have on your desk and then find an appropriate organizer for the desktop.


Everything In Its Place

You have pared down the items on the desk and, hopefully, found an organizer that has the necessary spaces for your needs.  It is not time to put everything in its place and label it.  Why is it so important to label?  Well, it not only makes it easier for substitutes to find things and put them back where they belong, but it makes you more accountable for putting things back where they need to be.  If the organizer cup is labeled “scissors”, you are much less likely to drop a pen or pencil in the cup compared to if it is not labeled.  Try it.  You will be surprised at the way a simple label can change the way you keep things organized.  Check out these organizers for ideas.


Say No to Paper Clutter

One of the biggest clutter culprits in the classroom is, by far, papers.  Papers to grade, papers to be returned, papers to be filed, and so on.  The most logical place for them is usually the teacher’s desk.  This year, change that system around and have clearly labeled paper baskets located on a separate desk or on the shelf behind the teacher’s desk.  “To Be Graded”, “To Be Returned”, “To Be Filed”, and “Mail” are four good starting points.  They baskets allow you to organize the paper clutter in a way that is not overwhelming.  Once a day, dedicate 10 minutes to filing, sorting your mail, and either packing up the papers that need to be graded at home or grading them on the spot.  Have a classroom helper assigned the task of passing back papers that need to be returned.  By getting the paper clutter off of the desk, it will make it that much easier to keep it clean.

Clean It Before You Leave It

Make a commitment to yourself that you will clean your desktop off everyday before you leave the classroom.  If you need to leave soon after the students leave, be vigilant during the day about keeping the surface clean.  You will be amazed at how much anxiety and stress will be alleviated by simply walking into your classroom and seeing a clean, clear desk every morning.


Behavior Modification

Keep in mind that you are asking yourself to make a change in your habits during the day by committing to maintaining a clean desk.  Some days will be easier than others, but the feeling of taking control of your classroom space and making it be a place that works for you will be worth the effort.  Be kind to yourself on those hectic days when your desk looks a fright at the end of the day, but be firm enough to get yourself back on track.  You can do it!


What are your biggest challenges to keeping the teacher’s desk clean?  What are some of the things that help you maintain a clean desk?  Share your ideas with us!

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  • Adrienne
    October 28, 2012

    LOL…I am a lost cause on this one!!! Because I don’ t use my desk as a conference center for my students, it just pretty much sits there collecting…stuff!!

  • Barbara Montgomery
    August 22, 2012

    My computer monitor, tower, and printer must sit on my desk. That leaves very little room for anything else. Sure makes it hard to keep cleaned off.

  • Raye
    August 22, 2012

    I agree entirely with #6. I know I am such a better teacher when I can come in in the morning to a clean desk (and other areas I use a lot such as my back counter area where my guided reading table is). I can’t expect my students to function in a mess and therefore, I can’t expect myself to either!

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