My last post was about how student workflows and organization occurs in my classroom but probably an even bigger struggle was figuring out my own workflows. It took me a solid 4 years to figure out how to organize myself and I’m sure these systems will continue to change and refine. But the one thing I have found with all organization systems: Less is more.
I pretty much have 2 types of handouts, which I think is the case for most teachers: worksheets and assessments. And I have unique storage systems for each.
The Filing Cabinet: My filing cabinet is pretty much for assessments only. I have a couple of folders for generic forms (KWL charts, goal sheets, etc.) and some district paperwork but the majority is summative assessments. I tried putting everything in here but it just got too messy. Again, less is more. I organized my filing cabined using the templates and directions from this 30 Minute File Cabinet Makeover and I’m in love with the results! It looks great and it’s so easy to find the test or project sheet a student needs because of the big colorful tabs. I color coded the folders: green for generic forms, purple for unit assessments, and blue for district paperwork.
The Binder: All of my day to day worksheets are stored in The Binder. I have a divider for each unit, for which I used the same tabs from the file cabinet makeover. Then I use sheet protectors to hold the daily worksheets and/or quizzes. I have the answer key in the front of the sheet protector, and 5-10 blank copies behind it. The worksheets for each unit are organized chronologically so I just turn the page to get to the next day. Now we have 1:1 iPads, so most of my students just download the worksheet from our LMS and do it in notability, but I always like to have some paper copies for kids with IEPs, tech issues, or who just prefer paper. However, in a non 1:1 classroom this could still work to hold master copies.
One thing to note: I know a lot of teachers use file cabinets to hold worksheets but that just didn’t work for me. It was too messy and hard to find things. This way each sheet protector is devoted to a single worksheet, and it’s easy to flip through and find what you need.
Papers to Grade and Common Forms
I’ve tried a couple of ways of organizing papers to grade, but I think this file box from Target is my favorite. It’s pretty, sturdy, has a handle so I can easily carry it home, and has plenty of space for papers! I added some colorful tabs to divide periods 1, 2, and 4, and use manila folders within the dividers to hold papers “To Grade” and “To Return” for each period. I also keep a stash of teacher forms in here (time sheets, referrals, grade changes, etc.). I pride myself on having never lost a kid’s paper because I keep everything secure in here unless I’m actively grading it.
Manipulatives and Other Stuff
Card sorts and models from craft supplies are some of my go to teaching tools as a biochemistry teacher and I needed a way to easily store those. Over the years I have collected these file boxes from Ikea, Michaels, and Staples. I make 18 kits of each card sort or model (I have classes of 36 usually so this allows for groups of 2) and put each kit in a ziploc bag or envelope. Then I store the class set in a manila envelope labeled with the name of the manipulative (you can see one hanging out on the bottom shelf in the photo). Then I take all the manipulatives for each unit and put them in a box. I have one box for each unit.
So there you have it! My “less is more” organization system! I’ll write another post on my less is more digital organization later!