8 Tips, Ideas, and Systems for Science Classroom Organization

I love my classroom. I mean, I spend nearly as much time there as I do at home. It’s a small space and I love to personalize it. Teaching many preps without a lab assistant (6 at the moment) requires me to have a lot of classroom organization systems in place.

Here are my 8 favorite Science Classroom Organization tips. 

1. Planning

You need to plan! I use Google Sheets for my yearly planner, but when it comes to weekly and daily planning, I need my Erin Condren planner. Add all the sticky notes, stickers and washi tape and I’m sorted! I always joke that if something happens to my planner, I’m going to run away. For more planning tips have a look at this blog post.

2. Containers

Are you even a teacher if you don’t get all the feels when you walk into a container store?! I love a good container! One of my favorite organizational tools are large plastic trays that I use to prep labs. Every group or student will get a tray with everything that they need for the lab. At the end of the lab, everything goes back into the tray. This makes it easy to have multiple labs set up and ready to go.

3. Checklists

I keep a checklist on the inside of every cupboard door with all the equipment that is stored in that cupboard. In some cases, I also separate it into different shelves. This makes it so much easier to keep my inventory up to date. I also keep track of breakages on that list. 

4. Reagent Boxes

As far as classroom organization goes, this has probably been the biggest time saver for me. If you teach High School Chemistry, you will know that preparing reagents for ion identification is a pain. I’ve assembled these boxes with all the reagents needed for cation and anion identification. Everything is labeled and there is a checklist on the outside. 

Litmus paper, wooden splints, bungs and tubing, matches, etc. are stored in the little container that fits in the top. Whenever we do ion identification, I just whip these out and we are good to go!

5. Laminating

I have a container of laminated periodic tables in my class which my students can use when needed. They know where they are kept and don’t need to ask to get one. I also keep laminated answer keys to task cards, card sorts, and crossword puzzles on my shelves. My students will use those to mark their own work. Having them laminated means that I don’t have to reprint or copy these every year.

6. Missing Work

You will always have some students absent. I’ve created a box where I put the handouts that students have missed. They know that it is their responsibility to come to look for the pages with their name on them.

7. To Be Marked / Marked Boxes

By now you would have realized that I have a box for everything! At the end of my desk are 2 boxes. One is for work that students want me to mark (I don’t mark every single piece of homework) and the other is for work that I’ve already marked. Students will drop off and collect work without disturbing me.

8. Review Folders

I have a big bookcase in my classroom where I store my review activities. Card sorts and task cards are in small plastic containers that are labeled with the topic. The student sheets for these are kept in concertina folders together with crossword puzzles. I often use these for lessons and I check once a term that I have enough copies in the folders. My students will also check out a set of task cards, for example, to work through before a test or exam. They know where everything is kept, so they don’t have to bother me to get the materials.

A lot of these organizational ideas rely on my students knowing the rules and understanding my expectations. Consistency is key. I do spend quite a bit of time reinforcing these expectations at the beginning of the school year. 

I hope you have found an idea or two that you can implement in your classroom to make things run just a bit smoother.

You can get a copy of my Lab Organization Airtable Base to help you prepare for labs.