Teaching Tip – Get Organized

One thing I have learned from all my years of teaching is that it pays to be prepared.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t always this organized.

I always made sure that I photocopied any material or worksheets I needed well ahead of time. However, on one more than one occasion, I simply could not find them when I needed them. I’d end up scrambling at the last minute to run off another set of copies.

I knew I needed an easy way to keep track of all my photocopies but it took me a while to figure out exactly how to do so.

This is my desk drawer and the perfect solution to the problem of lost worksheets.

As you can see, I have a file for every subject I teach.

These are my folders for the first block of study in my morning routine.

Monday – Spelling
Tuesday – Word Study
Wednesday – Grammar
Thursday – Spelling

I then have a folder for each day of the week to help organize any handouts I might need for my math lessons.

Here you can see a class set of worksheets. This is a quick activity I plan on doing with my class during a Language Arts period this Friday.

Your teacher desk probably has a drawer that supports hanging file folders. If not, you more than likely have a filing cabinet in your classroom. Failing that, you can pick up relatively inexpensive self-contained plastic frame.

And don’t forget to get these great tab dividers.

You don’t need fancy colour-coded ones either. I simply use the plain clear tabs and colour the paper insert with a pencil crayon before writing on them with pen.

In the above pictures, you can see that all of my Math tabs have been coloured yellow, all of my Language Arts (English) tabs are blue, my morning literacy block tabs are red, and Social Studies / Science tabs are green.

You will also note that the pink folders at the back of the drawer have several folders containing Language Arts worksheets. Behind that, there are several more folders with Word Ladders (more about those in an upcoming Teaching Tip Tuesday post.)

It is comforting to know that I have back-up lessons and materials to quickly draw upon whenever I need them.

Photocopiers break down. Stay ahead of the game.

I make sure that all of my photocopying for the upcoming week is done before I leave the school on Friday. That way, I can begin my weekend knowing that everything is set for Monday morning.

If I get to school and the photocopier is broken, if it’s going to take all week for it to be serviced, I don’t have to do any last minute tweaking of my lessons.

It pays to be prepared and organized.

I hope you have found this Teaching Tip post useful. If you have any ideas, comments, suggestions, or if you would like to write a post sharing your favourite teaching practice, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you. Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about.

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5 responses to “Teaching Tip – Get Organized”

  1. Hi Hilary,

    I wasn't sure whether or not to post this tip. It seemed too simple. But like I mentioned above, it took me a while to develop this system. Duh!

    It does pay to be prepared though.

    Have a good one!

  2. Hi Chase!
    Thanks for the tips! I'm second guessing my system now – I keep a big binder for each subject and keep all my master copies in there for if I teach that grade again.
    Do you find that it is hard to organize your files like that at the end of the year? What do you do with them then? Also, doesn't your drawer get really full by the end of the year?
    It does seem really handy though to have it close by and easy-access…

  3. Hi Milou,

    I think that is a great idea. I have so many binders of resources. I find that it can get a bit much some times, but it is well worth the effort because when you need it in the future, it saves you so much time. Plus, you never quite know what you will need in the future.

    Also, keeping every handout for the year is a good tool to have to show parents and admin. I usually recycle all those sheets at the end of the year though, since I know where to find them again. I keep really detailed day plans so that works for me.

    Happy teaching!

  4. Good thinking, Chase! Being a teacher, you’d never know when you’ll need another copy for your materials. Also, you don’t want to permanently lose those carefully-thought activity worksheets you spent a lot of time constructing. Thus, it certainly pays to spare a copy and be prepared and be organized for this matter. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    Arthur Griffin @ Copy Solutions