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Organization for Teachers

Compiled By: kristen_teach

Messy filling cabinet? Always losing papers and books? Here are some ideas from organized PTers!

Staying Organized
Posted by: Gardenut

The important thing is to save a copy of everything as you go.

In my file cabinets I keep all Math, Reading, Language Arts, and Morning Work. I keep all my extras in large binders. I fill them with page protectors and index separaters--The first section is labeled BACK TO SCHOOL--I include all notes, copies to be made etc. I make a list of things to do to get ready-then when the time comes I simply cross them off! :) I also jot down notes to my self such as get goody bag contents and postcards to send to new students. Then I have sections for Themes and Holidays- which include samples of the activities. I can make copies through the protector, so they don't get dirty--being in the protector, I know it goes back in the binder.

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Classroom Organization
Posted by: sj

NOTEBOOKS--I have one 1" notebook I labeled my "Handy Book". Everything in it is in a plastic sleeve. I keep transparencies I use often, such as handwriting lines and a clockface. I keep copies of poems and jingles that I use often. This book is where I keep the "old standbys" that I wouldn't want to stash in a file cabinet because I use them every year and throughout the year. I have another 1" notebook I labeled "Lesson Plans". I also use plastic sleeves in it to store the pages that I must refer to over a period of time, such as duty schedules, library schedule, class roster, scope & sequence chart. I also have a copy of the grade-level objectives (TEKS, in Texas), this week's lesson plans in a plastic sleeve, and as I put in each new week of plans I remove the old ones from the sleeve and hole-punch them and move them to the back of the notebook. Behind the plastic sleeve with my class roster I have hole-punched the information sheet that I have each child's parents fill out on the first day of school that has their phone numbers, allergies, and other info. This notebook is very valuable when I need to have information handy. I have stackable plastic (Sterlite brand) drawer units that have drawers that hold almost exactly one reim of 8 1/2 x 11" paper. These drawers have labels that I made with my computer inserted to show through the front of each drawer. I have a drawer for each day of the week to store copies that I will need for my students during classes. I also have these drawers: GRADES (it holds returned copies of report cards, grade sheets that I use prior to recording in my grade book, any grades given to me from another teacher, etc.); RECORDS (it holds notes from parents, copies of notes I've sent, enrollment forms that arrive with new students, testing results); NEXT WEEK (holds originals and things I've pulled ahead of time for the next week that I've not yet copied or put into the day drawer. These will be re-filed after I've prepared for the next week.); TOOLS (my staple-puller, staple gun, pliers, hammer, screwdriver); PENCILS (sharpened new ones ready to hand out to kids who need them--a container for dull ones stays on the shelf); COMPUTER (booklets, a new cartridge, important program discs); PENS (my pens, sharpies, Vis-a-Vis markers); WHITEBOARD MARKERS; ENVELOPES; FASTENERS (tacks, extra staples, brads, paper clips); PERSONAL (nail file, clippers, bandaids, lip gloss, toothbrush & paste); GADGETS (the thingys that you can hang from ceiling tiles, stick-on hooks, clip-rings, ...); KEEP (the important papers that you can't afford to lose, like those copies of attendance rosters that you have to keep)and then a drawer for collecting any pages or masters that I pull from a series and know that I won't file back where they belong immediately because I won't use them again until next year. By just dropping them into the drawer as I use them, they are usually in order when I go to put them back in their notebook or wherever they belong. This worked especially well with the Saxon booklets, reading transparencies, etc. I have about 20 three-drawer units (yes, I have more labeled drawers than I listed--even three empty ones that serve to simply hide a stack of papers until I get to it!--(LOOKING ORGANIZED IS EASIER THAN BEING!!!) that sit on two two-shelf units that I purchased at K-mart years ago. The top of the shelves and middle shelf have the drawer units. The bottom shelf is for all of my notebooks. It helps it look organized that I bought only white drawer units, shelves, and notebooks. The drawers and notebooks are all labeled neatly with labels I printed to fit each. I also have about 40 Sterlite plastic drawer units that are about the size of a shoe-box. These fit the shelves above the student lockers in my room, but I have had them stacked on a window ledge before and they still looked neat. I don't label them because they are semi-transparent and I prefer to look at what is in them to reading labels. In them I keep all of the "junk" that I used to keep stuffed into cabinets and cardboard boxes. Here are some examples of what I keep in them: flashcards, watercolor sets, base-ten blocks (one drawer for units, one for tens, one for hundreds), pattern blocks (5 drawers so that they are all ready to just pull and set on student work areas and then slide back into their unit when we finish), seeds for the plant unit, rulers, stickers, prizes..... As you see, mostly little stuff. THEN! I have 10 big Sterlite plastic drawer units that are about 7" deep and 18"x20". These hold puzzles, games, larger manipulatives, art supplies such as tissue paper and yarn, my shell collection, and other big stuff. I have about 6 drawers that are 6" deep and about 15"x12". They hold the watercolor markers, my set of softballs I use when teaching about the earth being round, and other medium-sized things. I have a hanging file on top of the 2-drawer file cabinet by my desk with a file for each student. In fact, each hanger has 2 files for each student--one for work samples and one for documentation such as test records. I'm able to drop work samples into the file easily this way. I also have a basket to collect the "to be filed" papers. My personal kid-books that I use to read to the children or pull out for specific units I keep in a 4-drawer file cabinet. My unit files and books use the same number system. For example, the unit on Pets is # 3, and all of the books that go with that unit are labeled with a 3. Each item in the unit folder in the unit file cabinet is also labeled with the number 3 so that it always returns to the same file. I found years ago that if I didn't label them I would sometimes put a tiger in the "animals" file and another time in the "zoo" file, etc. My number system evolved over the years, and there is no reason for each having its number. I found that alphabetical filing created many folders and it was hard to remember what word I'd used before. My numbers can have several sub-topics within the same general heading. I works like this: #6 is Food. Behind food I also have a folder on health, nutrition, grocery store. # 10 is Indians, #11 is Pilgrims, #12 Thanksgiving (which has turkeys, cornocopia, feast plans) I have found that this system was the most flexible as I moved between grade levels over the years from K to 1st to 2nd to 4th to 2nd to 1st to 2nd!!! Now I teach 5 sections of 2nd grade writing every day, so most of my "stuff" sits idle in the drawers--but it is easy to find and easy to put away if I do need it! I keep a separate folder for each section that I teach, with a class roster that has places to write grades in each folder. That way I can put the papers for each class in its folder and record the grades as I get to them. I put the ungraded behind the grade sheet and the graded on the other side of the folder so that I can keep straight what is coming in and going out. This system would have worked for the different subjects when I had a self-contained class if I'd thought of it then. I make sure that I back things up on the computer, and try to keep track of what is on the floppy discs by numbering them and keeping a running index for them in my computer. That way, when I need something I can just go to edit-find and see easily which disc will have the information I'm looking for. I got unexpectedly moved to a new grade last year and realized the importance of having my computer files somewhere besides in my hard drive in the classroom!! This may be (probably) way too much information, but I'm told I'm pretty organized, so maybe some of these ideas will help at least one of you!

my organization system
Posted by: Brooke

My fellow teacher is also super-organized, I am less so. I understand your issues. I can tell you how I tend to the ones above which I have managed.

I have a manila folder for each child that holds notes on their IEP, signs and returns and anything miscellaneous I may need to refer to later with a parent or team. Filing here is really easy because they're beside my desk and it truly takes seconds to file those things away. In my left hand bottom draw I have a notebook for faculty meetings. I take notes but in five years I've never looked at them again. I started throwing away faculty notes because someone else will always have them if I need them. However, I have sense enough to know if the principal has a pet project, start a file on those hand-outs. I have a simple file called principal. When my old principal left, I could throw all those notes out.

I use several forms often. I need lots of copies of those forms. They're in a small 3-draw file behind my desk. They're easy to get to and I simply replenish them when I'm low on copies. I go to the school secretary to get the form I need once or twice a year. She has a file and will get it for me easily.

I hate lots of worksheets hanging around so I copy just before I need them. We have a copy center that will make those copies. For me, I prefer to be just a week or so ahead. I get crazy when I have too much paper around me.

Now this is what I do with what I need most. I have a large file cabinet in the back of my room. I keep hundreds of file folders in there. This is organized first by subject, then by chapter. I pull from these frequently as I begin a new chapter or topic. All of my lessons, worksheets, tests are organized in each file, so I simply pull what I need and get them copied. In this large file folder I also have a large variety of graphic organizers I can pull from "on the fly." These are also stocked so if at the lest minute a timeline seems approprite I grab it. If a Venn Diagram is needed a grab it. All of these file folders fit nicely into one crate by the side of my desk with pendaflex folders labeled by subject. That's that.

So even though my fellow teacher is super-organized I find that I'm equally able. She far surpasses me though regarding grading papers. She's driven to correct them as she receives them. I need to be motivated so that leads to a paper pile-up. Unfortunately as I approach my fiftieth birthday I find myself less and less motivated to get to that pile of papers quickly.

Best wishes.

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Posted by: mandyg

Ok, I *try* to be organized, but I can't say I do it ALL the time. I am working on this. I keep telling myself, one day. I am a lot like you: I put it off until I think I will have more time (which never really happens).

I have learned to have a place for everything, so even if the paper is not neatly filed I know what general area to look.

Student information:
I have a large clear, plastic file box with a lid. Inside are numbered hanging file folders. Each student has a corresponding number. Any student information (notes, IEP, tests, work samples, parent communication) gets dumped in the front of the box. Occasionally during bus call I will haul the box out and file everything.

Student info I use often:
I keep a binder with test information that I might need at any given moment (class profile sheet, running records, school wide goals, list of writing stages and reading stages, etc). I call this my class date binder. I have a section for each item. In the front I keep my class profile sheet (this is a really cool paper my school requires us to do. It is basically a giant spreadsheet of abilities, reading, writing and math bench mark test scores for the beginning, middle and end of the school year. I just look at his one sheet for all the info). After this paper I have dividers for school goals, running records (a paper clips separates beginning and mid year) and my personal professional goal info.

Faculty/ Meeting notes and handouts:
This is really classy. For my faculty notes I just use a spiral notebook. Any handouts for meetings get stuck in the spiral notebook. If I need them, I know where they are. I have NEVE had to pull these out before, but I got them if I need them. My "plan book" is actually a binder with all these cool pockets. I keep the staff meeting spiral notebook zipped in one of the pockets and pull it out when I go to ANY meeting (and we have plenty). I find it easier to keep all my meeting notes in one spiral.

One way I cut down on this is I only copy a week in advance (like another poster mentioned). If I do it any earlier I usually run copies and never use them. I guess I over plan!?! Then I have all these copies and stick them in a file cabinet for "next year" and I promptly forget about them until right AFTER I finish the unit next year.

I copy them a week in advance. On my desk I have plastic stackers from an office supply store. I have six stackers. One stacker for each day of the week plus an extra (I'll mention this later). I put each set of worksheet in the day I will use them. I also criss cross the copies to keep them from getting mixed up. It works for me! Any extras at the end of the week are collected and filed or put in my "to file at end of year box." Depends on time.

Stuff I STILL don't know what to do with:
The sixth stacker I keep on the top. This is for handouts and things I have no idea what to do with and don't want to lose: Six flag reading forms, book it forms, field trip info, etc.

I have a website with one page just dedicated to organization. Check it out if you want.

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Posted by: NCP

I am the super organized one! Here are my solutions:

I too have worksheets copied in advance. We have to put our copies in to be copied, so I have to do them in advance. I have five magazine file sized plastic buckets I have labeled as M-F. They sit on the top of the bookshelf behind my desk. I place books I am going to read, worksheets I an going to use, or samples I am going to show in these buckets. I also have a file folder in each bucket to put stuff for the following week behind the current week. I also have a small hanging file box next to these with files for: copies to be made, current units, book orders, sub folder, attendance slips, nurse passes, etc.
As for faculty notes and forms, I have a staff binder I place these things in. I have used dividers in this notebook labeled by subject: math, reading, writing, spelling. I also have a standards section and a section for calendars and other notices.
For my students, I also keep a file for each student, but I have them labeled by number so I can reuse the files each year. In these files I keep IEP's, parent notes, copies of notes I send home, etc.
I hope these help. I also try to clear off my desk each night before I go home so I have the piece of mind that everything has been taken care of each night before I go home.

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Sometimes it works, sometimes..... Well
Posted by: Gloria

I have a file folder for each child in my homeroom. I put every note, important paper, test score, iep, etc.

I have a large folder for the other 2 teachers classes that I teach 1 class per day. It is all mixed together but at least I know where to look for anything for those students.

I have a large hanging file for each subject for future papers

I have file cabinets for each subject that I keep units, supplemental materials, reference, etc.

I also have subject files for everthing that needs to be filed. I sometimes am too busy to file at the moment, so I place those papers in those files and get to them when I can.

I have just started putting tests/answer sheets in clear page protectors that I will keep in binders. I am hoping this also helps.

I never sit at my desk so the top usually is a dumping ground. I have solved this by selling my desk for the day for good behavior. Then I have to clean and organize it at least 1 time a week.

My thoughts is that a clean desk and super organized room is great but I would rather place my efforts on my students and planning my lessons. Every once in a while, I go in on a Saturday or over Spring and Christmas break and spend an entire day getting caught up and filing everything correctly. If not, there is always the end of the year mandatory days that I can do it.

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Here are a few
Posted by: Mrs. G

1. I label file folders for each day of the week. When papers are copied I place them in the folder for the day of the week I will be using them. I place them in a paper tray on my desk.

2. As soon as I grade and record papers I place them in a file folder to be handed back at a later time. This way I can get a lot of papers off of my desk that aren't necessary. ( I place this file folder in a paper tray some where else in the room off of my desk)

3. Notes and forms- this is an area that I am still working on. I try to take care of any notes from the administration as quickly as possible so I can throw them out. All test results that we have are on a county database and in the students cum folder, so I don't have to worry about keeping these things. I only keep papers that are important or that I need to act on. The others I toss out.

3. Subject matter- I label file folders for each chapter I teach in a certain subject. Any activity that goes with that chapter I stick in that folder. Then they are stored in my filing cabinet. I only need to pull out the chapter I am work on each year.;)

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Posted by: Cathy-Dee

Even after 9 years of teaching I'm still dealing with this problem. I cringe walking into rooms where the teacher is just so organized. But then I do try to see what they are doing that I'm not. I still have things to figure out

But these are a few of the things I've done which have helped at least with the clutter on the desk every night.

- I have one long table in my room (near my desk) which has all sorts of baskets, filing stands, etc., on it. ALL the work the students do goes to this table. So I don't have to worry about work on my desk every night and sorting through it. The only work that ever goes on my desk is work I've put there or if someone's workbook has a page ripped out and needs repair. This also helps with marking as I just take from the table and the kids are actually very good and not putting their work in their desks.

- I have a basket under my desk where all my current filing goes. So master copies of workbooks, new worksheets, things I need to keep from meetings all goes to this box. I do try to empty it once a month, but even if I don't at least everything is in one place.

- On my desk I have one filing shelf - 3 shelves and I put all current work there. Staff memos and notes on one shelf, tests and forms on another, and whatever on the third. Again at least I can find it even if I have to look through all three shelves to do it.

As far as marking, grading, etc., it took me a couple of years to realize that I do not have to mark everything the student's do. Of course there are things that do need to be marked and things that do need to be graded. But some things I do for the lesson, for extra practice, etc., and I don't mark those. I'll walk around and make sure everyone understands what they are doing and that's enough.

Also for some of the workbooks, things like journals, math workbooks, I have the students put them on the table open and face down on the last page they did. This saves me so much time when I mark them or write comments in their journals.

I also have one more shelf (Did I mention I love shelves and filing units ) This one used to be for puzzles in our kindergarten room but you can find similar ones in stores like Staples. It has a number of shelves but they do not have a lot of space - perhaps enough for 30 copies of thin booklets. I use this one for all my day-to-day forms - spelling test forms, home reading sheets as well as all my upcoming worksheets, poems I've copied, looseleaf, etc., It keeps these things off my desk and I just move them to our "table" when I'm ready to use them in a lesson. So I can copy enough spelling test forms to last a month or two and save time that way.

- I also have a few of the larger bins in my room - in these I store units for science, holidays, etc., so that everything I use for those units is in one place. I have 2 others that are long and flat that I store all my pictures in.

- The new teacher at our school has one of those 5 compartment rolling carts in her room. I just love it so that's the next thing I'm going to get. She uses it for certain workbooks, journals and those sorts of things.

Posted by: Kathy

Organization is definitely NOT my strong point--either at home or at school. So I "steal" every good idea I find!!!

I have discovered having plastic bins for my teaching units helps a lot because then when I find something for a unit I can just stick it in the bin and it will be there when I need it.

I'm also developing notebooks where I place worksheets/ideas I use for the different units. When I teach the unit, there are the worksheets right there!

Hope these two ideas help!

Note: I would agree with the other two suggestions as well. Unless it's for a specific unit you're teaching, if it's on the Internet you can probably find it again. I have also stopped saving all but the "cream of the crop" ideas. At this point, I have so many "ideas" I could never implement them all!

Cathy's organization
Posted by: Judy

At an organization workshop I once attended, there was one really good tip: Buy one of those oblong crates that suspend hanging folders. Label the folders Mon, Tues, Wed, etc, and subject labels. When you make copies ahead put them in the folder for the day you've planned to use them. If no day is yet assigned for the task, use the subject folders. You could also have folders for general topics such as graphic org, committees, forms to be completed, etc.

I'm a piler too yet this one idea is very useful to me. Good luck!!

work smarter
Posted by: bamateach

Here are a few things that I do to help my mess:

1. I set aside one day a week (Friday is my day) to stay late, clean, plan, run copies, grade papers, etc...
2. I have a paper tray on my filing cabinet for items that need to be refiled. This is my worst organizational thing. When the tray gets full I have to file it.
3. Give each child a red pen. Anything that is not being taken as a grade book grade - grade together.
4. Bins, Tubs, and containers! Get lots of them and organize your stuff and label the tubs. I just organized my friends cabinets. Her craft cabinet was the biggest best improvement. I used shoe size boxes with lids.
Again the biggest thing for me that makes the most difference is the 1 day that I stay late and devote to cleaning, etc...
Good luck! :s)

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This I can help with!
Posted by: kitty11710

As a teacher who has only been teaching a couple years, I get excited when I can post a reply and help another teacher. Organization is one of my strong points.
1) I have a file folder rack on my desk with a folder for each day of a week. If I run things off ahead of time I place it in the folder for the day I am going to use it. This way all I need is the folder and the lesson plan and I am ready to go. There are also folders in the rack for To Be graded, and for later use. Those are just items I didn't get to use in lesson, but would like to use another day. There is also an "extras" folder which I try to empty about once a week, saving any homework assignments in my filing cabinet for make-ups.

2) Next to my desk is my filing cabinet. On my filing cabinet are three paper bins marked with the subjects I teach and notes. This helps me keep any work kids hand in together and in some organized fashion.

3) Any paperwork from admin or the office that needs my attention gets placed in the corner of the blotter. I get to work early because I have a long commute so usually this pile gets checked in the morning to see what needs to be done when.

4) I also have a set book ends at the other corner of my desk. This is great for keeping books or binders you need handy, organized. I have one binder for old lesson plans for each subject, and one for my homework checking.

5)Everything else in my classroom that is in a bin or magazine rack is completely labeled (Centers, writer's notebooks, reading response journals, hall passes etc.)

Hope this helps! Have a great year.

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Posted by: SC

I also put a filing tray on top of my filing cabinet, and when I have a spare moment (ha!) I file what I can in that amount of time.

I have a little plastic thing that holds letter-sized hanging folders on my desk. I keep a sub folder in there, along with letter-sized forms I may use during the day. I also have a folder for each day of the week, so if I run something off to be used on Friday, I put it in Friday's folder.

Each student has a cubby. When I grade their papers, I file them away in their cubbies to take home at the end of the week.

I have a cabinet right next to my desk that holds my teacher's manuals, any resource books I use frequently, and supplies I may need often. It also has a paper tray that holds work to be graded.

I have a rule for myself that I must clean off my desk at the end of the day before I go home.

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Posted by: SusanTeach

Mine is similar to others. I get pretty stressed if I'm not organized - that's the anal side of me. Here are a few ideas:

1. Have a table set aside that is for all your paper trays. Have one designated for each subject OR day of the week. All your copies go in those trays for the week. Make those copies every Friday.
2. Have another tray for "office". That's anything that needs to go to the office. Then when you have your planning time, you just grab everything in the tray and head up there!
a. Copy anything that goes to the bookkeeper or secretary (sometimes they lose things!), and keep a manilla file with the copies. Put the original in the office tray to get turned in.
b. If you have something that needs to be copied (worksheet), throw a copy in the office tray.
c. If you have a parent to call, jot down the parent's name and number and throw that in the office tray.
3. Student mailboxes are WONDERFUL. I don't know how I did without them before. Any time I grade papers, I quickly sort them into the child's mailbox (the thin slotted kind). If I don't have time, I put the stack on top of the mailbox - and let my daughter do it for me later. :D Then on Fri. I can grab the child's stack, staple it, and put it in their graded paper folder.
4. I grade papers on my planning time (with a key to make it go faster), or at my son's basketball practice. I refuse to do it on weekends. You have to have some down-time and family-time!
5. I write all my lesson plans out and make any copies on Friday - then I go home knowing it's all ready for Monday!

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Other ideas
Posted by: teach4TX

I also do many of the above ideas, but here are a few others. (Long)

First, buy lots of hanging files & file folders and then some of those file boxes from WalMart that have lids w/ handles. (They hold hanging files perfectly!) They're on the isle w/ the shoe box containers.
Then, label one crate/box w/ "Extra Papers" and inside it put a hanging folder labeled w/ each day of the week and one folder labeled "memos". When you pass out assignment papers to students, have a student put any leftover papers in the folder for the day. Any left over notes to be sent home from you, office, PTO, etc. go in the "memos" folder. This really helps when you have a student who is absent or the occasional student who loses an assignment or form. These students know to go to the "Extra Papers" crate and pull out the assignments from the day(s) they were absent or the lost form.
Label one crate/box w/ "To be Graded" and inside put hanging files labeled w/ each subject you teach. Once I collect an assignment, I immediately place the papers in the correct subject folder. When I'm ready to grade I just pull this crate off the shelf (don't forget the lid) and take it to my desk, daughter's soccer practice, or where ever I'm going to grade. Once I grade a set of papers, they go in the front of the box (if I'm not at home) or directly to the "Graded Papers" file if I'm at school.
Label one crate/box w/ "Graded Papers" and inside a hanging folder for each student in your class. Once you've graded a set of papers, have a trustworthy student, your personal child, or yourself file the graded papers into each student's file. When I'm ready to send home graded papers, I just pull them from the file and place them in the students folder to be sent home.Like Javamomma, I have a tray for students to put notes from home in this tray only. However, I have the tray right next to the door so that students put the notes in the tray as soon as they walk in to my room. This keeps students from losing the notes also.

I also have a file crate next to my desk w/ a hanging folder for each day of the week. Then inside each hanging file, I have a file folder labeled w/ each subject I teach (I teach ALL). So once I've ran my copies for the week, the papers go into the correct subject and the day of the week in which I will need that paper to hand out to students. When it's time to teach Math on Tuesday, I pull out Tuesday's math folder and Voilà! I can pass out the day's math assignment to the students.

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Organizationally challenged
Posted by: tweet

I have been teaching 25 years, and I still am just HORRIBLE at STAYING organized. I have lots of good ideas and great intentions, but I am not good about follow-through. My desk is the school joke because it gets so piled up. In fact, my previous principal took a picture of it one day and put it in the yearbook!!! All my former students remember me by the messy desk. I'll have jr. high kids drop by for a visit (we are a preK-12 campus) just to see what my desk looks like!!! They get so excited when they can see brown!( the wood grain top)

That said, I do have good organizational tips. My first is color code. I color code all subject areas. That way I can see at a glance if something is blue, I know it's something for math, etc. I put all the work for the week in colored file pockets. I labeled one for each day of the week and keep them standing on a shelf behind my desk. There are 5 each for math, reading, language arts, spelling, and social studies/science.

I have 2 stacking trays on my desk. One is labeled for notes, etc. from parents. When the kids unpack in the morning, they put anything for me in this tray and I address it after we get started. The other tray is for things that need to go to the office. Believe it or not, this part of my desk stays organized.

I have individual mailboxes ( a cardboard divided paper sorter) for the kids. I have another box nearby for graded papers. I put all graded papers into the box for my class helpers to file in the mailboxes. On the wall by my desk is a numbered chart. ( I assign all students a number at the beginning of the year that they write on their papers, etc. This helps me quickly get things in alphabetical order. My class helpers put them in order for me before I grade.) Any way, on the numbered chart, I put up a post-it if a child is missing any assignment. Then at a glance I can see who needs to stay in at recess and finish work.

I have individual stacking trays for each subject for the kids to turn in papers to be graded. Then my helpers alphabetize them for me and paper clip each set.

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Posted by: Sharon D. W-L

Well I'm still working on this one myself. However, so far I've been keeping binders by the month. We usually teach various themes and topics around the same time each school year so I have one or two large binders for each month. They are not perfect but they are better then these files and files of stuff. I hole punch EVERYTHING or if you have to use large envelpoes and hole punch these to store samples of things in for the month. But the envelope goes into the binder. This is especially useful for craft samples if they fit. You can also do up unit boxes if you prefer. I often have a few of the plastic shoe box size ones for craft samples that I want to hold on to and for flash cards , mini games etc.

As for the magazines you could make copies of the table of contents from each issue and place these in each monthly binder. (I think I read about this in Mailbox!) Then as you preview each binder a month or too ahead you'll glance at the table of contents to see if that issue will be useful at this time.

I have the same folders on my computer - one for each month and as ideas come in that I just can't deleate (I'm such a pack rat!) I drag them into a folder for safe keeping. Every few months (3-6) I try and go through and deleate what I haven't used so I don't store too much... (Yeah right!)

I do have a few binders for math and science and language arts (Word Wall Words, Phonics, Spelling) in general but most everything else is in a monthly binder.

Oh yeah - label the binders clearly. It takes a while but it is worth it.


PS: I just moved and most of my precious binders are in storage in another province... I wish I would have brought them all with me.

Posted by: kimberly

I have been struggling with this for five years. I THINK I have found my solution. I hope so because I have tried everything.

The file folders didn't work because I would lose papers, give out my original. So I hole punched and put in binders. The pages ripped out. My solution although somewhat expensive has helped me so far. I bought page protectors and more binders. I put all my originals in the page protectors. When I need to copy I just copy through the protector. Downside is you have to manually place the page on the copier. But I haven't lost my originals since. As soon as I get back to my room Iput the original back in the binder (which I leave open to that spot) and put the binder away.

As for all the crap we accumulate because we might need it someday.Go through it. Ask yourself "Have I used this ...Ever? No? pitch it.

Like you after a couple of weeks my systems fall apart as the days speed up. Recruit a parent helper. Train her in your organizational system. I have made parents and invaluable resource for me and they take care of the repetitive stuff, like DOL and daily math. I just teach and assess. They do the prep work.

One day I had to have a sub but of course I still had to drop off a sheet I had made up the night before at home. When I walked into the classroom that morning my parent volunteer was showing my sub everything about the day. If I could afford to higher a secretary (as all other professions have) I would have hired that woman!

Posted by: LLK

This is a strong area for me so I hope I can help.
1. First analyze what your storage is like. Do you have room for file cabinets , or will your cabinets or cupboards or bookcases hold binders?
2. If you are using file cabinets:
Take your language arts and divide into English areas....nouns,verbs, sentences, paragraphs, 6 traits into individual traits, etc....using file folders put your stuff in them alphabetically. For things like sentences, by that I mean larger areas of study, I use expandable brown files and put inside of them individual files of particular sentence vs fragments, punctuating sentences, etc. That way I can pull the large expandable file.
3. If using binders, it is a bit more difficult. But it works the same. Use a binder for parts of speech and divide it into nouns, verbs, etc. Or if you teach extensively in these areas, Use a binder for each part of speech.

I have my file cabinets marked for science, social ,reading ( by novel) and then by skill or strategy. I use binders for individual areas in science and social with the binders divided with answer keys,worksheets, labs, tests, ideas and projects.

It takes a lot of work and I have spend a great deal of time on it, especially since I have changed grade levels a couple of times in the past few years.

Hope this helps. Let me know if there is more info you need to know.

Posted by: Jennifer in OK

I use the three year rule. If I haven't used it in 3 years, I trash it or put it in the lounge for others to use.

I'm in a new site this year (transition) while our new school is being built. I took only what I needed and kept as much in boxes and in the one closet I have (I used to have 4!). This makes it easier on me to repack at the end of this year. I realize now that there are things that I could've left behind, but who knew at the time.

I don't like a lot of clutter, so I have things organized in 2 file cabinets. One holds all my teacher resource books that I have bought. The other has my hanging files, color coded, and labeled for quick easy reference. Other teachers who I allow to freely borrow (only 1 right now) always know exactly where to look.

You can buy those big Rubbermaid storage boxes that cost less than $5 and store things in. They are stackable and hold a lot. They can be put in closets or on high shelves. You can also buy those 3 drawer rolling carts and store those items used most often in them.

Earn a little extra money and hold a garage sale. I know a lot of teachers who go and look when retiring teachers have one. You can get/give good deals and come out with a little money in the end!

Classroom Organization
Posted by: StephR

I am out-of-control organized. Anally so. I can't stand when my classroom is a mess. So everything has a place. Anyway, here are a few ideas that may get you started:

* I have a chart posted that shows the student exactly how their desk should look. They must keep the desk looking like this before they are allowed to go home. The first few times they have to stay after school to clean their desks are enough to make them keep it clean.

* Kids must clean the classroom daily. We do a 60 sec. clean up. Basically they have 60 sec to clean the floor. They are silently moving around the room picking up trash.

* On my desk I have File trays. "to be filed", "to grade", "for review". All student work that needs to be filed or graded gets put in its respective tray. School/office papers for my review get put in that tray. This way, there is nothing just laying on my desk.

* I tape the Weekly Bulletin to the corner of my desk. This is out of the way and easily accessible/noticable. The tape also keeps it in place! I highlight things that are of importance to me.

* ALL student work gets turned in to the Inbox. This keeps everything in one place so I can easily grab it. Also doesn't confuse the kids.

* All work to go home gets put in the Outbox throughout the week (anything I am not going to save ie: hw). On Fridays the kids line up, are given a stack of paper, and place the papers on the desk of the person it belongs to. This is done silently and all papers get returned super quickly (and I don't have to file!)

* Those that do need to be filed are done daily by my Controller. During the classroom clean up, the Controller goes to the "To be filed" tray and puts it in the student files.

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Posted by: gloves2teach

My biggest help last year was

I bought one of those plastic drawer things. It was a smaller size with 6 drawers (each drawer was slightly bigger than a sheet of paper). I labeled each drawer with a day of the week and the last drawer with Next Week. Then as my aide or I make copies I can file them directly in the correct drawer for that lesson. If I was really on the ball and had stuff for the next week it went in the last drawer. The drawers were nice because they were big enough for books, project paper, etc that I might need. I also was able to keep things in the drawer that I use each week. For example, I used Mad Minutes in math. I copied a bunch and filed them in the correct drawer-addition on Monday, subtraction on Tuesday, etc. I didn't lose any copies last year!

I also make sure to copy two extras of everything. That way I always have an extra on hand if a child loses their homework or if I misplace my original. In addition to this I have a file tray on my desk for "extra" papers. After I pass out a homework assignment I put the two extras that I copied in that tray. I also put any extras of papers that the office might send home. I always have an "extra" on hand and when it gets full I just put it all in the recycle bin.

A time saver for me is my morning routine chart. I always write a list of things to do on the board for the children when they come in. I found myself writing the same reminders every day. I put the first part on chart paper:

Morning Routine
1. Unpack and put your snack in your desk.
2. Check your orange folder to turn in homework and look for notes.
3. Sharpen two pencils.
4. Use the restroom.
5. Copy your homework.

These things were the same every day. I put magnets on the chart paper and hang it on the board. Anything extra was written underneath it. That way the kids develop a routine of doing the same thing everyday. This is helpful when there is a sub in the room. I take away tickets if a child doesn't complete something from the list. Especially by the last month of school!!! :mad:

I have one basket for each subject I teach. The kids turn in all papers to the appropriate basket. I bought one of those accordian files. I empty the basket and put anything that needs corrected in the accordian folder in the correct section. I take the folder with me where ever I go.

One of my pet peeves is when kids don't put their name on papers. So I put a highlighter beside each turn-in basket. The kids need to highlight their name before turning it in (this takes some training). It reminds them to put their name on if they forgot.

I also created a small copy of the class list. (it's about
2" x4") Before placing papers in the accordian folder, I check off the names of students that have turned it in. I know quickly who owes me work. SOme people have the student's check off their own name as they turn it in, but I'd rather do it myself. It helps me remember who owes me something.

My last tip saved me a lot of irritation at the end of the day. My students have an assignment pad which they write assignments in each day. I used to allow 15 minutes at the end of each day to write down the work and have me check over it. I had more one student who was so slow that they could never get it done and I ended up writing it for them. Then I added it to the morning routine list. They started in the morning and finished during free time in the day. They had to have it done by recess or take a classmate's book outside with them to copy it. It worked wonders!!! It seems so simple now but I don't know why I didn't think of it before. It saves me 10 minutes at the end of the day because all I have to do is check over them.

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good rules for organization
Posted by: teachfla

I am known for my (rather anal) organization. Here are some tips that have helped me:

1. Those plastic stackable trays are great. I have one for each day of the week and an In Box on top.
1A. Invest in lots of plastic dish pans. They are cheap, they stack, they fit books and folders perfectly.
2. Color coordinate everything. In my world, pink is reading/LA, orange math, green social studies, blue science, and yellow my stuff (like parent communication, common copy masters, etc.) All of my masters for everything are sleeved and put into binders labeled by color. The colors are grouped together. I can find anything in under 30 seconds.
3. Touch papers as little as possible. Get your mail from your mailbox and file immediately. (Ex. Most flyers go into garbage, meeting announcements go under last page of plan book to be looked at when I plan, notes on specific children get tossed in a dishpan that I sift through once a week or so to file in correct spots.) If I want to look at something more closely, it goes in the In Box, which is cleaned out at the end of every day (be strict with yourself.)
4. Have a Done Box for kids' papers and train them to use it. I just use a dishpan. That way I can grab just the dishpan, my grade book and take it all home.
5. Don't let anything touch your desk. It sounds strange, but if your mail has a home (In Box), kids' papers have a home (Done Box) and TEs have a home (color coordinated on a shelf) your desk won't need to be a home for all of that.
6. Take it one step at a time. Organization of this magnitude did not happen overnight. Choose one thing to focus on and when you get it tweeked the way you like it, add something else.

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Posted by: apple annie

I don't know what grade you teach, so I guess your system depends on that. I teach second - all subjects, but only 22 kids. We send all graded papers home once a week to be signed. I came up with a much improved system this year. I have a box from Office Depot that looks something like a milk crate, that holds hanging folders. I have one set of green folders labeled #1 through #22. After I grade and record a set of papers, I file them into each students folder, or I leave them on top of the box and the aide who comes in does it for me. I keep the box on an old flat top student desk I found in our school storage closet. It just sits right next to my desk.

When "signed paper day" (Tuesday) comes around, I just pull each student's set of papers out and staple them together. The kids have an envelope that they slip them into after they look them over on Tuesday afternoon. I have another set of yellow folders also labeled #1 through #22, which I use as student portfolios, to put in selected work samples, and other portfolio materials. I have a plastic folder that has six pockets in it which I use to put sets of ungraded papers in. When kids have a test or a graded assignment, I make them keep it at their desks until everyone finishes. Then I call out students' numbers to collect them all at once in number order.

I had to start this method because I kept having missing work for students who shoved the paper in their desk, forgetting to put it in the in-box. I just slip each set of finished work in my folder to grade later. I just grab it and my grade book on my way out the door, and grade at home.

I have a basket on my desk for everything else, and I just sort through it as I have time. I have a mailbox on the wall for my kids to put in notes from home, which I check each day. I like this idea because my kids give me lots of little happy notes and pictures in my mailbox, too.

And finally-- my mantra this year is "The trash can is my friend!";)

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Posted by: conolley

Organization is certainly not my strength, but I've had to work on it quite a bit since I've had my own classroom. Here's a few things that have helped me:

-I found an old file file paper sorter (kind of like the ones we use for handing back kids' papers, but about 1/2 the sz.). I have one shelf for each day of the week that I put in the copies for that day. The other shelves I use for papers to grade, work in progress, and files for units we're currently working on. I found mine in a storage closet and it works perfectly.

-I have a basket on my desk that's my mailbox. If the kids have things to bring to me in the morning, they know that's the place to put it. I try to go through it in the morning to check for notes and other things. This helps keep things from getting lost on my desk with other papers!

-When the kids turn in papers they have a specific basket for each subject. That way after they're all turned in they're already (mostly) sorted. I try to paperclip assignments together at the time so that I don't have to sort them when I go to grade.

-I got the Target magazine bins to help organize student supplies and keep them out of their desks. (Less to play with and less to get in the way and make a mess.) I got one for each child and we're keeping them on shelves in the back of the room.

-I always get bogged down with the papers I get in my school box.) I keep a binder of the papers and just stick the important (or ones I think I'll need later) in there in order.

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Organizational Tips
Posted by: ConnieWI

Here are some organizational tips I have found helpful:

--There is a table near the door where students enter the room. On that table are tongue depressors with the student's names, and three containers labeled hot lunch #1, hot lunch #2, and cold lunch. As students enter, they place the tongue depressor with their name in the correct container. From this, I am able to do lunch count and attendance (tongue depressor is not in the container, but still laying on the table).

--There is a table in front of my desk. On it, I place several baskets. Each homework assignment goes into a different basket. Thus, I can just count the papers and figure out whose work is missing. Then I can paperclip the assignments together for correcting. Students then place their assignment folder in a basket on this table. It is very handy at the end of the day, and no one is digging through their desk to find it.

--I correct assignments every day (if possible) waiting until the waiting until the pile is impossible to complete in a reasonable amount of time. This takes a lot of using my time wisely during the school day.

--When students arrive each morning, there is a list of things to do on their desk. In this way, they know exactly what to do and in what order it should be completed. Students check with a partner to show them they have completed each thing on the discussion, just showing...and then are allowed to check-off that item. This makes my students very accountable and it is good practice for following directions. For some students this is very easy, while others struggle for a few weeks. Eventually, everyone succeeds, and it really helps me too. (Some teachers put this list on the overhead.)

--At the end of the day, my class spends five minutes doing their jobs or organizing areas that need organizing. After my bus duty, I return to my room and make sure everything is in place. I do not leave until my room is in order, even if I have a meeting to attend. I hate coming in the following morning to clean-up yesterday's mess. If you take these minutes to get things organized, tomorrow will go some much more smoothly.

--I have students mailboxes near my desk. At the end of the day, students pick up their assignment folder from the table in front of my desk, and grab materials from their mailbox. Any work that has been corrected is placed in these boxes and any homework needed for that night is there too. This way, I do not spend time returning papers. They are automatically placed in the mailboxes and off my desk. If we work on something during the day that can go home, students automatically go to these boxes. This way, students desks do not get cluttered with materials that should have gone home two weeks ago.

--My students clean out desks once per week. It is the second-last thing we do on Friday afternoon. Pencils for the new week are sharpened and all those off-task toys students bring to school are returned home. In this way, Monday begins with organization.

--My students have a folder and spiral notebook for each subject. They are color-coded and labeled with the subject and student's name. I might say something like "Take out your blue math folder and place your number grid in the left pocket. Your partner will check to be sure you have followed directions." Next time a certain item is needed, it is in the correct place and no class time is used hunting for it.

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