Well it’s just about here, the first day of school! I don’t know about you but I try to get as organized as I possibly can before students show up in the hopes that I’ll stay organized all year long. During the first few years of teaching this never happened. My desk looked crazy and I could never find the paperwork I needed, or the worksheets for students who needed an extra copy, or that note I was going to give a student, or…..this list could really go on lol I don’t know why it took me 5 years to figure out how to get organized but it did and I’m here now to pass along that wisdom to hopefully spare you the countless hours of searching for items in a desk that is clearly more a Bermuda Triangle lol ;-p How do I manage to stay organized now? 3-Ringed Binders. I’m obsessed with these things! I use them to keep track of all my answer keys, for students, for general teacher stuff, and for my subs. Let me explain 🙂
Answer Keys – I teach 2 preps (3 this year) and make answers keys for just about everything. It helps keep me on track with what the students are doing so that when there’s a question I know what problem they are trying to describe. What I don’t like doing is making a new answer key every year for something I know I’ll repeat, or having to make a new one because I lost the original. Instead I now put the keys into their designated folder, place a blank copy of the assignment behind it or that’s where the left over quizzes go, and I’m done! 🙂
Students – this is probably my favorite. I always end up with left over worksheets on my desk. I make a few extras (you mean students will lose their work?!) and of course students are absent so those sheets are there too. As days go by these piles get bigger, and I have separate piles for each prep…..things can get out of hand. I now have 3-ringed binders for this. I pass out papers and the left overs get hole punched and placed in the binder. It’s become part of my routine….most of the time lol Students find “their” binder (I keep them in a crate by the student turn-in center in my room) and they can get the worksheet(s) they are missing. No more piles of paper on my desk. No more “the teacher forgot to give it to me” because let’s be real, yes that can happen….there are 30 bodies in here each hour! And, my favorite, no more “I wasn’t here yesterday so didn’t get that” from a student 20 mins into the class. Okay so that last one still happens but not as frequent. Students learn quickly the routines of the class, including to collect their missing work from the binder, and anything that helps decrease that type of distraction is good for me!
General teacher stuff – keeping track of meetings, parent contacts, ELL/IEP students/paperwork; all of this is in another folder. Each time I contact a parent I like to keep a log (paper trails are important!!!); I want modifications close by for easy access, a place to keep handouts from meetings….all the behind the scene stuff teachers need to keep track of. This folder also has a 3-ring binder pencil holder that contains teacher notes. I like to randomly hand out “your awesome because…” notes to students so having them pre-cut and ready to go is helpful. I also have “missing work” notes to remind students to turn in assignments. Both of these things happen more often when the prep work has already been done so that I can just pull a sheet out and use it.
Sub Binder – my district now refers to subs as “Guest Teachers” which I like. Prepping for guest teachers is time-consuming so anything that helps with that is awesome. so I present the Sub Binder. This binder has tabs on the inside where I place the work for each class, as well as seating charts. I don’t have to recollect this information each time. When I will be gone, I pull out the Sub Binder and just have to place directions for the worksheets into it, the rest is done 🙂
Wow, this post is much longer than I intended, sorry! I’ll post pictures once my binders are completed. If you don’t want to make your own contact logs, teacher notes, or binder covers you can find them at my TPT store, Teaching Elements. There’s a packet with everything together (contact logs, notes, and binder covers) or you can get the contact logs and teacher notes separate. As always, let me know if you have questions and I’ll help you if I can 🙂