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Spring Cleaning for Teacher File Cabinets

Charity Preston


Teacher Organization TipsWith Spring upon us, and the warmer temperatures on their way, it is a great time to think about spring cleaning those filing cabinets! 


Follow my simple filing method to ensure that you never lose, forget or misplace your teaching resources.

Out with the Old, Unused Lessons

Files that have been sitting there for 6 years probably aren’t effective lessons for the students, or for you to keep in the limited space you already don’t have. 


There is nothing worse than looking for something, and finding another resource you could have used during the last unit.  If you didn’t find it this year in time, chances are you won’t find again next year.

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Organizing Your Lessons: Getting Started

A good system that seems to work for me is to start with a stack of plain file folders and plain white file folder labels. Then, I grab my reading series teacher editions and begin making a label on the computer template for each story in the series.


When that is complete, print the labels and affix to the file folders. Drop the labeled folders into your hanging files in chronological order in your filing cabinet.


Don’t worry – the other subjects will come later. Best to start one subject at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Fill Files with Lessons

The next step is to start placing any lessons, assessments, or resources you have that go along with each story into the folders. Trade books, enrichment lessons, spelling, and/or vocabulary cards are also placed in the corresponding files.


If you have a resource that could be placed in more than one spot (for example, trade books about nouns or figurative language), make copies of the cover or snap a photo of the game/manipulative to place in those multiple locations.

Sorting by Subject

After completing all reading files, begin to create folders for each chapter in math, science, social studies, handwriting, writing, etc.


Once you’re organized, you’ll have the files ready and waiting each year. As you plan your week, you can pull the file, take home if you do your lessons after hours, and review quickly what additional resource or enrichment materials you have on hand and in your hand.  If you come across new ideas for the file, just add it quickly for the following year.

Ed Tech Organization

If you are more high tech, you can even save/scan your files in and save to a particular folder on a jump drive or other online storage area. If you keep them on your computer, it's easy to search your computer for the files OR store it in Google docs to access them from anywhere.


However you decide, having all the materials in one place so you don’t have to go searching will save you time and frustration.  It's all in the system!


I have created a fun little owl-themed file folder label template you can feel free to print and enjoy as well. 


Do you have a file organization tip to share?  We would love to hear it in the comments below!

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