By Teachers, For Teachers
One of the many challenges teachers face is what to do with all of that paperwork. Whether you teach kindergarten or 12th grade, there is no doubt that you will have an abundance of papers. From stacks of ungraded and graded papers, to permissions slips and lesson plans, every teacher has their fair share of paperwork. Teachers have enough papers to write, sort, and grade that it could keep a secretary busy all day long. Taming all of that unruly paper can be quite a challenge.
Here are a few organization tips to help you manage it all, so you and your students will be on your way to a stress-free learning environment.
Teachers are organized people by nature, so even if your desk is an organized mess, it can still use a little help. You need to think about how you want to organize your paperwork so it will be conducive to you and your needs. Think about where you will be grading papers, where students will be handing in papers, and where you want to store papers to hand out. If you teach more than one class, think about how you want to set each class up. It’s important to have a plan before you try and execute any organizational setup.
Once you plan out where you want papers to go, then you can set up your zones. If you grade papers at your desk, then set up a station in the corner of the desk that is just for that. If you want students to hand in papers as soon as they enter the classroom, then set up a homework zone by the front door. It’s wise to invest in a tabletop filing system that you can label and have easy access to. This way you can easily sort your to-dos: To file, to grade, to send home, and so on.
Once you set up your zones, then you must set up a time to deal with the paperwork that are in those zones. If you don’t use these organization tips, then you will be in the same messy, unorganized situation that you were in the first place. If you tend to grade papers at lunchtime, then everyday as you leave for lunch take the papers out of the homework hand in zone with you. If you have a free period every day at 2 p.m., then schedule the first five minutes of that time to file away papers. If you send home a weekly newsletter, then schedule that for the same time every week. Be sure to stick to your schedule and once you decide on your times, this structure will keep you very organized.
Whatever you do, make sure that before you go home for the day that your desk is cleared off and every paper has a home. Instead of having knick knacks and photos in frames on your desk, hang them on the wall or place them around the classroom. You will love coming into your classroom in the morning with a clutter-free desk.
As technology grows, it’s inevitable that the future of education will most likely be paperless. So, why not try and start now? Try and go paperless as much as you can. E-mail or post your weekly newsletter to your classroom website. Assign homework that students must complete online. Post take-home tests or classroom assignments on your website. If your school is privy to technology, then utilize classroom computers, iPads, and Smart boards. Technology is the way of the 21st century, so try and go paperless as much as you can now.
As you move through the organization tips above you will find your paperwork much easier to handle. You will also see that you will feel much more organized and love how your classroom will look and flow. Remember, it will take some time to truly become organized, but it will happen.
How do you manage all of that paperwork in your classroom? Do you have any organization tips that make it work in your classroom? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators.