A row of labelled boxes with books

Organise your classroom

teaching practice
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For student year

Preschool – Year 12

Helps students to

  • access all classroom areas
  • transition smoothly
  • Helps teachers to

  • ease transitions
  • use fewer verbal prompts
  • Summary

    Structuring a classroom so that it is well organised and easy to move around creates a productive learning environment, encourages student independence, and helps with efficient transitions. An organised classroom supports all students, including those on the autism spectrum, to make sense of what is happening around them. 

    An organised classroom environment promotes:

    • student learning 
    • social interaction.

    An accessible environment fosters:

    • engagement 
    • independence 
    • positive peer-to-peer interactions among students.

    How the practice works

    Watch this video to learn more about this practice.

    Duration: 2:32


    Australian Professional Standards for Teachers related to this practice

    1.6 - strategies to support the full participation of students with disability

    4.1 - support student participation

    4.2 - manage classroom activities

    For further information, see Australian Professional Standards for Teachers AITSL page

    Preparing to teach

    Classroom organisation

    Classroom organisation may involve:

    • structuring the physical elements of the classroom, including arranging furniture to create walkways so that students can access materials without disturbing others
    • strategically placing and labelling materials and resources, encouraging students to be responsible for putting away materials and maintaining a tidy classroom.

    Structuring the classroom environment includes:

    • creation of clearly defined learning spaces
    • logical organisation of materials
    • reduction of auditory and visual distractions
    • selection and implementation of appropriate environmental supports to facilitate student engagement, independence, and confidence.

    Environmental considerations

    A structured and predictable learning environment enables all students to:

    • know what is happening 
    • predict what will happen next
    • anticipate what is expected of them when they use each learning space. 

    You will need to look at the different classroom spaces in your classroom layout and consider:

    • is it accessible - does this space function as required for all activities?
    • where will the whole of class visual schedule be situated?
    • where will individualised visual schedules be placed?
    • how can I set up an area in the classroom to promote student concentration when other classroom activities may be distracting? 
    • how can I organise the space and materials to encourage positive peer interactions?
    • are there clear lines of sight between all spaces within the learning environment? (to facilitate teacher supervision)
    • how can I help students differentiate the function of a classroom space when different activities take place in the same space at different times of the day?
    • how can I improve the flow of students around the room?

    Once you have considered these needs, you can identify a clear layout, including seating, where materials will be housed, and what labelling and storage will be used. You can then organise resources and materials, e.g. colour coding for subjects or units, storing items in labelled boxes, preparing labelled baskets or trays for completed work.

    It works better if:

    • a quiet safe space is provided for students on the spectrum to support self-regulation
    • the classroom is organised in a simple, streamlined, and consistent way, avoiding clutter
    • the arrangement of spaces for selected activities is pre-planned and students are prepared for any changes (what and when) in the physical layout/use of spaces
    • you have pre-organised and pre-labelled the areas
    • students are reminded about where to access and put away resources and materials
    • students who find and return resources and materials independently are acknowledged or rewarded.

    It doesn't work if:

    • classroom organisation is constantly changing
    • spaces are used for purposes other than those for which they are routinely used
    • there are too many visual or auditory distractions
    • trays, boxes, and shelves are not labelled with appropriate visuals to support all students.

    In the classroom

    Introduce students to your classroom’s organisation

    Explain your classroom’s organisation routines to students, letting them know where they can find resources and materials and how to put them back.

    • Use colour codes, labels and other signs to clearly indicate where resources and materials are located
    • Let students know if locations have been changed
    • Use consistent prompts to remind students where to return items
    • Allow time at the end of the lesson to enable students to put resources away promptly 

    Give students reminders

    Remind students of your classroom’s organisation and check for understanding.

    Practice toolkit

    Practice implementation planner template

    We know that it is not always easy to keep track of what is working and what is not. So, we have created this template for you to record and reflect on what you are doing to help you create a more inclusive classroom. The implementation planner contains:

    • Guidance around goal setting
    • Reflection section (What worked, didn’t work and what to change and next steps.)
    • Prompting questions

    Implementation planner template

    Implementation planner with examples

    Set your professional learning goal for:

    Organise your classroom
    You can set and save your goal for inclusive practices using inclusionED. Saved goals will appear in your profile. Here you can access, refine and review your goal easily.

    Benefits of goal setting

    Setting, working towards, and reflecting on goals helps you grow professionally and improve your practice. You can access AITSL learning resources for teachers to learn more about:
    How to set goals
    The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership recommends using the SMART matrix to frame your goal setting.

    SMART goals refers to goals that are:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
    • Time-phased
    Read more about Improving teaching practices.

    Resources

    Organise your classroom environment - Practice Brief

    Further reading

    Materials informing this practice

    Related Practices

    This practice is from the core research project

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