filing cabinet organization

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by iteachm123, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. iteachm123

    iteachm123 Comrade

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    Jul 15, 2013

    I am a disorganized person and always have been as long as I can remember. As an adult, I have been diagnosed with ADHD (not hyperactive) but still struggling with organization. Just recently, I was blessed with a new teaching job and I am so excited. I never really had a good filing system and was always bogged down with too many papers. How do you organize your filing cabinet and all those files? Any organizational ideas would be greatly appreciated!
     
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  3. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Jul 15, 2013

    Since I teach a totally different level, I am not sure I have good advice except:

    -Consider going to a binder system where you keep originals of documents you use filed in sheet protectors in binders. I have binders for planning, beginning of the year stuff, themes, alphabet, math, parent education, etc. which help me retrieve things much quicker and save room.

    -If I had a scanner available at work, I would try to scan as much as I could and file it digitally.

    -It is hard to start mid-year, so I would attempt to get a system started now and implement it all year. Even if you end up piling sometimes, at least there is an organized place to put it when you get to it.

    -Schedule a time into every week to file stuff.

    Guess what I am doing today? Waiting for my son to wake up so he can go to school with me to do the grunt work of redoing my 10 year old file system to something that will work better for me now. I used to share office space with 2 other teachers but their program is no longer running, so I emptied out their cabinets and an moving stuff around! I thought I was messy - their files were crazy!

    Anyway, I find I have to use what works best for my mind - doing a system that works for someone else might not work for you. When I try to figure out where to put something, I go with what pops in my mind first, thinking that is where my mental filing will remember it next time.

    Good luck!
     
  4. iteachm123

    iteachm123 Comrade

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    Jul 15, 2013

    Thank you so much for all your invaluable advice!!
     
  5. stargirl

    stargirl Companion

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    Jul 15, 2013

    After much trial and error, I also found that using binders for my lesson plans/learning resources works for me. I typically like to have a 1-1.5 inch binder per unit, that keeps things not overly stuffed and easily portable.
    I do have a limited filing system, basically for overall school organization (i.e. dismissal information, assessment data, field trip information, collected signed tests). I don't need more than a couple of drawers for this, but I do need space on shelves/window sills to store my binders.
     
  6. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jul 15, 2013

    I only have a 2-drawer file cabinet, so I don't use it for lessons, etc. Instead, I use it for SPED materials and intervention documentation (we have a lot).

    I have a few binders, but find that they are costly and bulky. I try to scan whatever I can (haven't gotten very far yet), but it is time-consuming, so I buy (or create) as much as possible in digital form and save it in file folders by subject.

    My dream purchase/gift would be a (large) NeatDesk scanner - that would simplify things a lot!
     
  7. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Jul 15, 2013

    My file cabinet is one of the things I've yet to tackle since inheriting my classroom 2 years ago. One drawer has my students' portfolios from K, 1, and 2 in them. Other than that it's all junk the previous teacher left behind. (But I did make the outside all pretty with nice patterned contact paper from Target.) I'm hoping to getting to this in August. I could definitely use the extra storage space.
     
  8. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Jul 15, 2013

    I recently purchased a ScanSnap (not too expensive, really) and I am loving using it to file most of my work digitally.

    My parents at school were kind enough to purchase one for me so that I could have one in the class (as well as the one I personally purchased at home) and the parents love it... because I also scan handouts, etc. and include them on my website/weekly schedule. :)

    To the OP's topic: I think it's best if you find a system that works for you. Perhaps sit down and think about what you'll reach for the most? Student information? Or perhaps class policies or district information? Just list things you'd like to have in your filing cabinet (just brainstorm...you can always delete things later).

    Then see how you'd like to have these filed? Perhaps a folder for:
    "District Policies"
    "Special Ed. forms"
    "Technology"
    "Common Core"
    etc.

    But I also like the idea of using a binder. This is what I've started to do and I'm loving it because I can flip through rather than having to pull out folders, get them jumbled within folders, or accidentally having them end up in a different folder, etc.

    Please come back and update what you've decided to do so others can learn from you! :)
     
  9. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Jul 15, 2013

    I hate to say it, but my most prominent organization method is to keep a deep drawer for occasionally clearing the messy desk and then cleaning out the drawer at the end of the year, so that I can find all the missing things I frustrated myself to look for and not find when I needed it. Maybe that is a bit too harsh of a description, but I'm pretty disorganized. Honestly, I would probably be diagnosed as ADHD if I pursued it. I am really trying to work on finding a solution for me too. I have pretty much read every organization book published, so I should be a world-class expert.

    The binder system with sheet protectors described by others has worked for me at home EXCEPT that I do not maintain it regularly enough. So, I am working on coming up with a daily routine that includes 5 minutes of maintaining my system. I plan to use the same binder system at work too for next year for long term filing (in addition to keeping as much digitally as I can.)

    I also tend to pile things on my desk so I purchased an organizer online the other day to help me with my tendency. I am very excited about it. It is part of the Pendaflex Pilesmart system. It keeps a pile of papers looking neat because it is slanted towards the back and allows you to divide the pile into categories. Here is a link: http://www.gaos.com/_website/oc_vw_item.asp?G=21546&B=1415&I=114091
    It was discontinued and unavailable everywhere else but gaos.com, so I wound up paying $33 shipped, but I think it will meet my needs.

    Reallygoodstuff has an organizer on their website that is designed to neaten criss-crossed stacks of papers so that is another option, somewhat similar in thought.

    I also plan to purchase some filetastics from mardel's to keep often used forms accessible (and quick to return to their "home").

    The other thing that works for me is keeping important files received through email in my inbox so I can search for them. I never delete anything with an attachment unless I really won't need it again. An anal person would probably think that is insane, but it works for me.
     
  10. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jul 16, 2013

    :lol::lol: This is me! I would organize myself to death, I think - except I would spend waaayyy too much time and money on organizing systems, then get overwhelmed by them!
     
  11. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Jul 16, 2013

    I organize my files by month & in some cases a little deeper. I have a file that says Beginning of year letter, in it I have a copy of the letters & other information that I've sent home. Since I've taught different grade levels I only keep 1 from each grade level. After the first week of school I put all extra copies in the file. That way when I get a new student I can just pull the letter. I also have a file of the different activities that I have done at the beginning of the year.

    Since I'm no longer in the classroom, I currently only have a master copy of everything. Although, I did keep multiple copies of books. In the past I haven't used binders because if I didn't use the copies I would file them away for the next year.

    I also have a bunch of file folder games that are in my filing cabinets. I've used hanging file folders to put the master's in and the games behind it. It helps so I know where to put the game back.

    The key to any organization is something that you will actually use &: keep organized. That's the hardest part for me!
     
  12. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jul 16, 2013

    I got the most out of my monthly files. I broke them down into holidays, start of school, end of year, etc. This was when I kept lots of hard copies. But, I also kept paper decorative things, even BB pieces, kids' birthday cards in the front of each monthly file (I wrote them all out before the year started), extra themed work pages, etc. I had subject files, also, with lots of enrichment material.
     
  13. iteachm123

    iteachm123 Comrade

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    Jul 16, 2013

    I am an ELA teacher for fourth grade so I'm going to use binders for each reading unit with hard copies (extras will going in filing cabinet). I loved the suggestions about color-coding files so reading, English, spelling, and writing will each have their own color. For school-related papers, I am creating a fingertip binder with numbered tabs. These are the tabs: 1. lesson plans, 2. organizers, 3. standards, 4. schedules, 5. calendars, 6. data, 7. Response To Intervention, 8. Resources, 9. staff mtg notes, 10. resources, 11. miscellaneous, 12. crisis plan, 13. staff handbook. All of your suggestions have helped me so much! Thank you!!!
     
  14. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Jul 16, 2013

    I like your idea of the tab names. :) I'm just wondering if that's going to be ONE huge binder (to include all those documents). You may want to purchase another binder as a back-up (should you need it).
     
  15. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Jul 16, 2013

    I have a drawer for reading files, organized with dividers into sections: Emergent, Book reports, comprehension, thematic units, teacher resources...then a drawer for Math/Science/Social St. Also in sections with labeled dividers: Fact Fluency, Addition, Place Value, Fractions, Time, Money, Weather, Maps, Plants. I also have binders for assessment tasks to keep them separate from practice materials. My digital files are organized similarly. I use a school year master file for letters and such. Each content area has a file, as does special ed. Email also divided into topics.
     
  16. letsteach

    letsteach Comrade

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    Jul 17, 2013

    I use binders with sheet protectors (would love to scan all my papers but don't have one). If you are going to have binders, don't buy ones with 2 rings (sometimes the weight of what is in the folder opens the rings), spread the tension with 3 or 4 ring binders. Buy binders which have a front cover pocket and spine. You can print a cover sheet and spine (colour code if necessary) and if you change your mind, the binder can be used again and still look neat (unlike the ones where you write on the spine the contents of the file.

    My filing is divided into 4 terms. The first term I have binders for maths, beginning of the year stuff, theme, etc. The second term I have the themed stuff (includes literacy), maths, etc. I keep them all at school, however, I could bring home the term binders I am not using. I do keep spare copies of papers so some binders are pretty full (bit of a greenie at heart) and some things won't fit into a sheet protector so I have a binder wallet (stud fasten). I also use colour tabs in the binders (attached to the sheet protectors (eg, Humpty Dumpty, The Gingerbread Man, Little Red Riding Hood or in the maths binder - shape, number, patterning). Other binders include sightwords (A to M, and N to Z). I have various size binders (up to those that will take 500 sheets).

    I have a lot of binders but that's because there is a huge second hand book fair that sells the binders for $1 (in the shops they cost $8).
     
  17. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    Jul 17, 2013

    I go back and forth about folders and binders. I'll also a pile person-I want to work on this for this year. So far, what I like best is to keep monthly themed sheets and paper deco in monthly folders. I have a drawer for each subject and divide those up by standards.
     

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