Over the past few weeks, I’ve given you organization tips for your teacher desk and student supplies, and this week I’m back with another organization tips topic. This week’s topic is one that I find to be one of the most important…organizing papers.
But if we don’t organize those papers, we’ll find a paper monster in our classroom that will eat us alive. Think I’m kidding?
There’s nothing like having papers stuffed in desks, crowding furniture, and floating around your floor. While it’s essential to organize teacher papers, I also want to focus on having a perfect space to keep student papers organized because that ultimately causes the biggest mess.
If the paper monster has visited your classroom, let’s get him out of there!
Organization Tip #1: Use a Number System
I know this topic is debatable. Teachers repeatedly say that kids are more than just a number. My students are more than just a number, but a number system is an easy way to keep things organized. Let’s take a look at my classroom.
My students know that each time they receive a paper, they need their full name and number. This number isn’t for them to use; it’s for me.
It saves me time and makes my life easier. I’m not calling students by the number. I’m just using it for organization purposes. It’s important to approach the number system in the right way. Students need to know they’re more than a number; if you present it correctly, they’ll see that they are!
When I tell you that using a number system will save you so much time, I mean it. That’s why it’s one of my top organization tips for the classroom. Print a copy of your class roster in alphabetical order to get started. Next, number the students from one and so on.
When assigning students a number, I do so alphabetically. It makes sense, but it also helps when running reports or printing something that defaults to organizing my students’ data alphabetically.
I don’t have to add the number because I already have my students numbered alphabetically. It makes things so much easier.
Organization Tips for Managing Classwork
I hate desk clutter. Walking by a student’s desk and seeing papers hanging out makes me cringe. That’s why I use folders. My students have one folder for each subject which helps keep everything organized. Consider using specific colors for specific subjects to help students quickly grab the correct folder. These three-hole punch prong folders are my absolute favorite for several reasons.
1) You can add notebook paper in there since they have the three holes
2) They’re heavy-duty, so they won’t rip
3) They keep everything in one place
4) They have pockets
We use the pockets to keep our work organized. One side of the folder is where our “in progress” work belongs, and the other side of the folder is where manipulatives or flashcards go. I love having the “Work in Progress” pocket in students’ folders because it keeps their incomplete work together in an organized spot. When students finish, they put their work in the “Turning In” basket. I’ll touch on that more below.
How to Keep Ungraded Assignments Organized
Having a system for where student papers go also keeps you organized. Three-tier trays like this one are great because they help you organize papers in one place.
I use one of these in my classroom, and it’s helped me so much. This is how I manage it:
1) Top tier – consists of work that students have completed already. The top tier is where students turn in their papers when they’re finished.
2) Middle tier – where I keep classwork that is in progress. You can also pass this work out for catch-up work at the end of the day or morning work first thing in the morning.
3) Bottom tier – consists of papers I took from the first tiered tray. I clip the papers from the top tray and move them to the bottom. It’s my reminder that I need to grade them, and it keeps the assignments organized into one.
Organization Tips for Sending Home
The papers are graded, but where do they go now? I’ll tell you where they don’t go – sitting around my classroom or at their desk! No way.
We don’t want that paper monster to return. So, here’s what I do. I have this fantastic 30 pocket chart. I number the folders on this pocket chart to reflect the numbers of my numbering system. Then, I return the work to the folder corresponding to a student’s number. To help myself, I put them in number order to drop them in quickly.
Organizing these papers is an excellent task for a teacher assistant or classroom parent.
What I love about this system is how discreet it is! If a random person walked in, they wouldn’t know who had what grade. So even if student number 13 has a D, no one knows which student that is. This system gives my students some anonymity, which I think is important.
At the end of the week, I send the folder home to students. The parents must sign it and return it as proof that they saw their work.
This system works because student desks stay clean, and there are no more paper monsters. I use the same folders I mentioned above. I guarantee that these folders are truly multi-use and will last you the entire year.
Tips for Managing Absent Student Work
Inevitably, students will be absent. Early in my teaching career, I tried to catch individual students up by remembering which days they were absent. Still, it’s overwhelming, especially if you have several students absent.
That’s when I switched to a “Missed Work Folder.” If students are absent, I put the “Missed Work Folder” on their desks. Anytime I pass out papers, that student’s paper goes into this folder. At the end of each day absent, I staple the papers together in order of when I passed them out. Organizing it this way helps me know how much time they’ll need to catch up on their work, and it also helps me ensure they’re completing the work in order.
That’s how I organize student papers and prevent disorganizing, overwhelm, and all of that. It just makes it so easy for me. I hope those tips help.
These organization tips are how I keep student papers neat while preventing any disorganization or overwhelm. These systems make my life so much easier and keep the trash monster out of our classroom.
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