End of the Year Classroom Decluttering and Organization

If you talked to my husband, he would tell you that decluttering and organization are my specialty. Decluttered and organized spaces make me feel calm and relaxed, which is why I tend to enjoy cleaning (most of the time). A few years ago I wrote a blog post detailing how I decluttered my classroom, and today I’m going to expand on that topic to include classroom organization.


I am the opposite of a pack rat, and I can be severe when choosing what to keep, throw out, or donate. I know that teachers are often plagued with worry about items that they “might use later”. However, research shows that clutter decreases our emotional wellbeing. If there’s any place that needs to make us calm and happy, it’s the classroom!

I updated one of my old flowcharts to help you in deciding what to keep in your classroom. You can download a black and white or color version by clicking below.

Decluttering your classroom is especially important if you plan on leaving or retiring. The last thing a new music teacher needs is a classroom full of clutter with broken and tattered resources and instruments.


Organization doesn’t need to be pretty, it just needs to be practical. Here are my most practical tips for organizing classroom material.

  • Add a label to every side (and to the top) of your storage containers.
    • When you’re in a hurry, chances are that you won’t remember to replace boxes with one specific side facing out, so make sure every side and the top is labeled clearly.
  • Place frequently-used items closest to you and within easy reach.
    • If you use rhythm sticks more than any other instrument, then make sure those are closest to you and your students and aren’t at the back of a cupboard. If you have to move items out of the way to get to what you want, chances are those items won’t return to their rightful spots (especially when you’re busy).
    • My friend Elizabeth from Organized Chaos is also an expert in organization, and she has a wonderful post where she details how she uses a music stand and a cheap apron from Home Depot to create her own command center. You can read all about it HERE.
  • Involve students in your end-of-year cleaning and organizing.
    • We all know that a large part of teaching about instruments is teaching how to keep them in good working order. Part of that also includes keeping them clean and ensuring they aren’t lost or broken. Here are some kid-friendly tasks:
      • Borrow some dust busters and let your older students clean out the inside of the Orff instruments.
      • Sort through recorders/ukuleles and make sure everything is labeled and in its correct spot.
      • Place rhythm instruments into labeled boxes for summer storage.
      • Cover larger instruments with shower curtains, blankets, or other protective gear to keep them dry and dust-free.