ARGH! If you're anything like me, this is the time of the year I begin to get buried in a pile of papers, slips, newsletters, mailings, etc that make my desk (and my sanity) a bit of a mess. I am always looking for tips to help me stay organized, and here are some great ones to help you get through the year. Now that the excitement of the beginning of the year has worn off a bit and the reality of teaching and work has settled in, the more we can stay on top of the mess, the more we can focus on what really matters - the teaching and students.
There are several tech tools that can help you and your students stay organized. Remind 101 is a way to text students and parents reminders about homework, projects, and other deadlines in a safe, easy way. 43 Things is a place to list and track goals for yourself, which can help remind you what the big goals you have for your teaching are and to keep working on them. You can connect with others to get support along the way. Use Planboard for tracking lesson plans and connecting with others for ideas. Get lots of questions about an assignment? Use jing to record yourself talking through an assignment using screen-capture technology and email the link to students and parents so they have the info they need.
Teachers love binders. I've got loads of them for different aspects of my teaching now, and kept many when I was teaching K-12 too. These binders can be for curriculum materials, but you can also use them for the other parts of a teacher's job, such as assessment data and progress monitoring, PLC and grade-level team meetings, parent communication logs, volunteer logs and responsibilities, and emergency sub plans. A kind teacher at I Teach 5th has an editable binder with organization sheets for you to create. A different resource of templates for an organizational binder is found here. Another version of a weekly to-do/calendar is available here. Pinterest is full of examples of classroom binder templates, so you're bound to find one there that meets your needs. Prefer a web-based binder? Check one out here.
Here are some other small organization ideas to get the juices flowing about ways you can better organize your room and paperwork.
Use coded binder clips to track what's been graded, what needs to be graded, filed, copied etc.
Or, if you are like me and sometimes have more of the graded or passed back than would fit in a binder, you could use plastic file holder inside an old bag for easy transport from home to school or to the office to copy.
Use plastic soap containers from the travel size section of the store for keeping track of flash and playing cards.
And here are some sites for additional resources for your classroom:
Trade books for free on Paper Book Swap - you can get rid of books that your students don't enjoy and refresh your classroom library with new ones!
Need or want something for your classroom? Post on Donors Choose, and see what happens.
Give and get free stuff in your area using the website Freecycle. Great for furniture, books, technology stuff.
What are some of your tricks for staying organized?