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Teacher Desk Advice


Senior Member
Everyday my desk is a PIT. It is stacked full of papers, notes, teacher manuals, my mail, everything the kids want to hand me--I just say "put it on my desk". My organization stinks! Anybody got advice. I'm overly tired, and tired of all of the hours I'm putting in. It's been one of those technology challenging day.


Senior Member
I know what you mean

I have the same problem...I actually had to get a larger desk two years ago because I had so much "junk" on the desk...I have since moved schools and have a smaller desk-My only advice is get rid of anything that is not necessary (ie-decorations, pictures, "teacher gifts") I put pictures of my wife and kids on a small cork board behind my desk and even went as far as to creat a stapler and tape center away from my desk...it works a little bit, but I am still cluttered! Hope this helps a little. I also insist that nobody puts anything on my desk-even staff are trained to put it in my chair or my "IN" box.


Senior Member
We think alike

becuase I also have trained others to put anyting for me on my chair. I have tried to put those items right away before I sit down. (Yes occasionally I have sat on my plie. You won't do that very long!) I just ordered a vertical wire file to put on the table beside my desk in the hope that I can be organized. Please if anyone has any other ideas let us know. The rest of my room is very neat but my desk area is a disaster! Neatness is important to my principal so I'd like to get a handle on the mess on my desk.


Desk suggestions

Try having a special basket for notes from parents, tardy notes, or anything else kids need to turn in to you. This keeps it off your desk. I also like those stacking trays. I have a table beside my desk as well that lets me have a little overflow room. Bulletin boards a great way to organize papers, especially those you really need to keep up with. Having a small bookshelf behind or near your desk for teacher's manuals and other books helps keep those organized. I say all of this as if my desk is clean all the time...which it most certainly is NOT!

I think that almost all teachers have this desk problem. My opinion is, if you have a perfectly clean desk everyday, you are probably not getting much teaching done! (unless you are staying after school for an hour to clean it daily!) ;)

Ima Teacher

Senior Member
Before school ever began, I set up places for everything I use. I make sure that I ONLY put things in the right spot. At first it might seem to take longer, but eventually you'll get used to it and things will be easier.

I also label everything for the kids and hound them to put things where they go as well. Makes things easier for all of us.

Indiana Jen

Senior Member
desk clutter

I think that my desk turns into a black hole sometimes. I tell my students to never place anything on my desk, I may never find it.

I teach 3 classes of Math, 1 LA. I have a separate tray for each class to turn in their work. It's on a cabinet next to my desk that I can reach from where I sit but it's not taking up room on my desk. I tell the kids to turn in everything there.

This year I ended up getting a desk calendar and I found that I keep my desk alot neater when I have that. That's helped alot since I usually need to dig out my desk to see what's going on.


Organization tips

Start out with some of these:

Go to Lowe's and get a piece of "thick" glass cut to fit your desk. Put pictures, important papers that you need out all the time like a fire route or class list, class schedule-whatever on your desk and put on the glass topper. You might need felt circles or something in the corners to keep it from moving around. It's like having two desk tops!

Sort out your year by months and the unit you do in a month: Fire Safety in October? Poetry in April? Get 8-9 flatter tubs that stack and put like things together decorations...calendar, posters, etc. that you know you'll use that month. Get labels and cover the label with storage tape so humidity doesn't make it peel off.

Keep a desk calendar and write everything external to plans down on it (meetings, special events, conferences, teacher workdays)--see the month in a glance. Keep only your lesson plan book on top of the calendar. My principal likes our LP books open on our desk. He thinks we're on task then and can see what we're doing compared to it.

Keep baskets labeled for homework, late homework for the kids and bins for your stuff, i.e. papers to grade. Get a medium square basket with compartments for pencils, pens, a teacher pair of scissors, stapler and so on on your desk. Put a simple seasonal decoration on the corner of your desk to distract from clutter.

You know all those advertising magnets you get now? Cut those up and glue onto pictures or info and use the side of your filing cabinet or desk to post things up.

Use 3M Hooks to attach to the wall if you're allowed, and Adams hooks for the ceiling tiles. I take big paperclips and attach invisible string to them, bend them to hang from the ceiling rails and attach a paperclip on the other end for hanging student decorations. I use a couple adams hooks and a piece of twine in the corner of the room to hang a complete class set of cool math work or art work up with clothespins. You can hang an extra medium size bulletin board from the ceiling, too, with wire.

Get matching folders and notebooks to color code and large manilla envelopes. For instance, my red notebook goes only with the red folder. I take the red every time to my monthly teacher meeting. On a committee? Use a green notebook and green folder to take only to that committee meeting. I always know where that note I wrote or paper I received is from "the meeting." I keep book orders (scholastic) in an envelope--the current months' issue, and all money envelopes that come in, my master order form--all together. Get all your things you do monthly organized like this together.

Keep a 3 prong notebook with several pages of your class list down the side, and places to label at the top. Label each page at the top for attendance, math, math homework turned in, lunch count, and so on. I know who has turned in what by flipping through really fast and checkmarking on this roster.

You could get all this done with about $50-don't know about the glass. Once you get organized, you'll be liberated and stress free!!??


Full Member
Is there hope?

I have come to the conclusion that there is no hope for me. I can clean off my desk one day and by the end of the next it is a huge heap again. I just live with it. When I can't find the thing I need. then I usually clean it all off.

A couple of years ago I put my computer on my desk thinking this would help. It didn't. I just heap everything around it now.



my messy desk

My desk gets cleaned off several times a day, however no one ever sees it in its clean state. One thing that helps me is to have a "runner," one of my students who can run around the room and place whatever I need wherever I ask her to place it. Believe it or not, I do so many of the things that Gail does. Truth be told, if something is on my desk, I know I'll look at it and do something with it before days end. I try to transition very quickly and that's how my desk suffers so miserably. When I'm done with one subject and move very quickly into the next. Transitioning is really a bigger problem for me. I wonder what a visitor would think of both my transitions (which are less than perfect), and my messy desk.


Senior Member
Student notes

I have a special basket that I have my students put notes from home in because I dont want them lost on my desk top. I am more aware of them there and will read any that are put in there. It also helps if a student tries to hand me something and I will tell them to put it in the basket. I know I would lay it down and never find it again :)


Senior Member
desk advice

hmmmm...me giving advice on desk organization is like.....fill in a good comparison of something that SHOULDN'T be done here. (i am totally wiped out and have to average grades (oh, yeah...and grade 4 stacks) because my honor roll is due tomorrow at noon--ugh! and a 7:45 AM staff meeting to start the day so i have no energy to come up with a clever analogy.

anyway...here are a couple things that seem to work for me:
*one of my number one rules is DON'T set your work on my desk--that is the SUREST way for it to get lost!
*i bought (at walmart) 2 sets of 3 rubbermaid-type drawers and have stacked them--each one is for one subject: spell/lang/read/math/socst/science and that is where students put there work (then i don't have to grab ALL the papers, just that reading quiz or i can quickly flip through the spelling papers to see who didn't turn in hmwk. this sits on the counter...a ways away
*on the side of my desk is one of those plywood set-up-yourself shelves (side note: it cost $20 to buy it and $30 more to paint it because i had this very art-deco idea in mind.....of course it's full of papers and books so paint job is lost on anyone--and it's textured so it attracts dust--sigh..) anyway--i have it labeled MON/TUE/WED/THUR/FRI so everything that i need (overheads, copies, birthday card, etc) for each day is right there. underneath i have spaces for all my teacher guides and wkbks--also labeled spell/lang/read...

good luck!
(if i had one, i'd attach a picture of my desk and the 13 piles around it to prove how ludicrous my giving advice is!) :)


Senior Member
Cluttered desk

I was glad to read that everyone else has the same problems with their desk.

Years ago, a coworker was meeting with our principal about her recent observation. The principal mentioned her messy desk and said, "A cluttered desk means a cluttered mind." My coworker looked at the principal's desk, which was very neat and empty and thought, "What does an empty desk mean?"

I think of that many times when I look at my "cluttered" desk at lunchtime!


Senior Member

Thanks for sharing and allowing me to know that I'm not alone!!!
You gave me some great ideas!