5 Teacher Organization Ideas on a Budget for Secondary Teachers

I always feel like there are so many different organization ideas for elementary school teachers floating around the Internet, but rarely ever do I find organizational ideas for high school teachers.  So I decided to write about 5 of my absolute favorite organization products that I’ve found that have worked so well for my classroom over the years.  Hopefully you will find them useful for your classroom too!

1.  Binders
As teachers, we are always looking for tips for organizing our classrooms.  For high school teachers, we can rarely find organization ideas specifically for us that we can afford.  Here are 5 cheap ideas for secondary teachers to organize their classrooms on a budget.


As teachers, we are always looking for tips for organizing our classrooms.  For high school teachers, we can rarely find organization ideas specifically for us that we can afford.  Here are 5 cheap ideas for secondary teachers to organize their classrooms on a budget.

I will never, ever, ever again use a filing cabinet.  Seriously, never.  I’ve made the switch to binders now and have been so happy ever since.  I organize all of my handouts, answer keys, and extra copies into binders for each unit.  I love this because it makes my entire curriculum so much more portable!  If I need to take work home to grade, I just need to bring my binder.  If we are doing an activity in the computer lab, I just grab the current unit binder and go.  Plus I love how easy it is to organize the files within the unit binder by using dividers.  I keep mine organized into 5 categories: Honors curriculum, CP curriculum, Quizzes, Tests, and Extras.   Plus you can buy the binders and dividers in bulk on Amazon!  You can check out the ones I just bought by clicking the pictures above.   You can buy them in all sorts of sizes and quantities.  The links above are to 5-tab dividers for $1.69 each, and a 4 pack of 1.5-inch white binders for $11.99. But what if you use your filing cabinet for saving student work?  I am one step ahead of you.

2. Crates
As teachers, we are always looking for tips for organizing our classrooms.  For high school teachers, we can rarely find organization ideas specifically for us that we can afford.  Here are 5 cheap ideas for secondary teachers to organize their classrooms on a budget.

Y’all I am OBSESSED with using these white crates for filing student work for so many reasons.  Again, like the binders, these are super portable.  Moving a filing cabinet is physically impossible so if you ever want to rearrange your classroom, you have to wait until you can find at least 3 custodians to help you out.  These crates can be picked up and moved around so easily!  I also love that they are separate from where I organize my curriculum.  I like students to have access to their folder so they can review old tests during tutoring hours, or file away a project they want me to hang on to for them, or add something to a portfolio assignment we are working on.  But, I wouldn’t want my kids sorting through my filing cabinet for their work if I had answer keys in there!  This keeps things separated and allows easy access for students.  They are easy to stack too!  I bought mine at Ikea what seems like centuries ago, and they have survived moves to 3 different schools, but you can find similar crates by clicking the picture above - $24 for a pack of 6 on Amazon.  

3. Turn in Bins
As teachers, we are always looking for tips for organizing our classrooms.  For high school teachers, we can rarely find organization ideas specifically for us that we can afford.  Here are 5 cheap ideas for secondary teachers to organize their classrooms on a budget.

I used to be able to have a simple turn in basket on my desk when I only had 1 prep.  Now I have 5 different preps which means I desperately needed individual turn in bins for each class.  I LOVE these bins I found last year on Amazon because they hang on my wall – which frees up greatly desired real estate space on my desk – and they are transparent.  I can easily see from across the room if I had 3 students turn in their work or 30.  I can also easily see from across the room how much work I need to grade.  Plus it serves as a reminder for students to turn their work in.  When they see that there are papers in their class bin they remember that they were supposed to turn something in today too!  Click the picture above to get link to the ones I bought last summer from Amazon - $15.73 for a pack of 3.

4. Phone Caddy
As teachers, we are always looking for tips for organizing our classrooms.  For high school teachers, we can rarely find organization ideas specifically for us that we can afford.  Here are 5 cheap ideas for secondary teachers to organize their classrooms on a budget.

Every school has different policies nowadays for phones and “bring your own device.”  All teachers have different opinions on this.  Maybe you are completely in support and incorporate the students using their phones in your class daily.  Maybe your students secretly trying to SnapChat under their desk during lecture is the bane of your existence.  On whatever end of the spectrum you are, every sane teacher knows that they have to collect student phones for tests.  I LOVE this phone caddy I found on Amazon last year.  The pockets are big enough to hold even the iPhone 6+ and I can easily see who hasn’t turned in a phone before I pass out tests by just glancing over to my door where they are all hanging.  If a student forgets to silence their phone, it is also really easy to see which one is vibrating by looking at my wall, rather than when students have them all tucked away in their backpacks and you spend the entire test block trying to figure out where the “ding” is coming from.  Lastly, I assign students a number in each class so they always know to put their phone in the same place.  If you are able to hang this by your front door it makes it even easier for students to grab their phones on the way out of class.  Click the picture above to link to the one I bought last summer from Amazon for $12.99.  It comes in “Earth” colors too!

5. Plastic Storage Bins
As teachers, we are always looking for tips for organizing our classrooms.  For high school teachers, we can rarely find organization ideas specifically for us that we can afford.  Here are 5 cheap ideas for secondary teachers to organize their classrooms on a budget.

As teachers, we are always looking for tips for organizing our classrooms.  For high school teachers, we can rarely find organization ideas specifically for us that we can afford.  Here are 5 cheap ideas for secondary teachers to organize their classrooms on a budget.

Y’all these have been a game changer for me.  I found them at Walmart for 89 cents each 3 years ago and have been obsessed with them ever since.  They are the perfect size for storing classroom supplies like rulers, markers, colored pencils, scissors, tape, glue, and whiteboard markers and erasers.  I also use them in my storage closet to organize individual lab materials.  This has been a GAME changer for setting up for my labs or stations activities.  I simply go into my closet, grab the labeled bin (labels I purchased separately) and have everything I need to set up for the lab within seconds.  If I need chemicals or something else for the lab that wouldn’t be in the storage bin, I tape an index card to the inside of the lid with what else I need to acquire for the lab.  It has made my life so much easier!  Click the pictures above  to link to a similar product on Amazon - $22.99 for a pack of 12.

All 5 of these products have drastically improved the organization of my classroom and thus made my life, and my students' lives, easier.  I hope they can do the same for you!

As teachers, we are always looking for tips for organizing our classrooms.  For high school teachers, we can rarely find organization ideas specifically for us that we can afford.  Here are 5 cheap ideas for secondary teachers to organize their classrooms on a budget.

11 comments

  1. OMGosh! I love this idea and will be trying all of them next year for my organizing my ELA Resource Room for grades 6-8! Thank you!

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  2. Where did you get the letters for the phone caddy?

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    1. We don't have a local teacher supply store (you could find some there!) so I ordered these from Amazon!! https://www.amazon.com/Creative-Teaching-Press-Designer-Letters/dp/B00JF8LK9I/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1499433813&sr=8-15&keywords=bulletin+board+letters

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  3. Thank you! I will be using all of these. I'm re-entering the classroom and will be teaching secondary for the first time.

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    Replies
    1. So glad it was helpful for you Lisa!! Hope you have an awesome school year!

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  4. What do you do about making copies? Do you just have the three dark circles on all your handouts? It doesn't look like everything is in its own page protector. I have a love/hate relationship with page protectors btw. Especially with packets, it seems like a drag to have to pull each paper out individually to make copies.

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    1. My two cents: I did packets last yr w/ 7/8 ELA. The circles from the hole punch rarely seemed to transfer over to their copies. For my binders, I put cover page/TOC in a page protector & hole punch remainder of pages. I swear by binders and have used them for years.

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    2. Nope - I just print a fresh original copy each year to make copies from, which then becomes a student packet. So if I have 30 students, I print one and make 29 copies of it. Then use an electric hole punch after for each packet. That way I don't have the holes! Page protectors would be a nightmare for taking things in and out each day!

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  5. I have 5 preps too - this will be my first year! Major stress this Summer, but your ideas are great - thank you so much!

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    1. You can do it!! It will be like drinking out of a fire hose at first but you will survive and be a better teacher because of it!

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