a secondary classroom

Organise your classroom (Secondary)

teaching practice

For student year

Years 7 to 12

Helps students to

  • access all classroom areas
  • transition smoothly

Helps teachers to

  • ease transitions
  • use fewer verbal prompts


For the primary school version of this practice, go to:
Organise your classroom(Foundation to year 6)

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

A well organised classroom is one in which:
•    students know where to find and return resources
•    there are reminders about how the classroom should be organised
•    students receive positive reinforcement to maintain the classroom’s systems.

Organising your classroom well provides students with the visual clarity and certainty needed to support their learning and to help them understanding classroom expectations.

An organised classroom environment considers and promotes:
•    student learning 
•    social interaction
•    the varied needs of its students.

An accessible environment fosters:
•    engagement 
•    independence 
•    positive peer-to-peer interactions among students
•    a classroom environment that ensures learning is accessible to all
•    confident learners who know what’s expected of them.

"Structuring a classroom that’s easy to move around and organised increases students' independence."

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 students can access materials without disturbing others
  • strategically placing and labelling materials and resources, encouraging students to be independent and  responsible for putting away materials and maintaining a tidy classroom.

Structuring the classroom environment includes:

  • the 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'll 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've considered these, you can identify a clear layout, including seating, where materials will be housed, and what labelling and storage will be used. Then you can 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.

Classroom organisation is especially important in subjects like Visual Arts that rely on additional classroom resources.

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 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 it's not always easy to keep track of what's working and what isn't. So, we've created this template for you to record and reflect on what you're doing to create more inclusive classrooms. The implementation planner contains:

  • guidance around goal setting
  • a reflection section (what worked, didn’t work, what to change, and next steps)
  • prompting questions.

Implementation planner with examples

Set your professional learning goal for:

Organise your classroom (Secondary)
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.


Further reading

Materials informing this practice

Related Practices

This practice is from the core research project