HELP!! I'M A PACKRAT!!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TulipsGirl, Jun 28, 2009.

  1. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    I can't take it anymore! I have So. Much. Stuff. I know why I keep it all -- I never know when I'm going to need it... but still! I don't have this problem in any other area of my life. But when it comes to school materials... they're taking over my house. I have these massive binders that keep all my papers from Teacher's Helper, samples of projects, things we share among the first grade team etc. I have Filfolders for each student with assessments, too... I'm not a naturally organized person, so I feel like constantly need to organize all these papers so it doesn't become a huge problem. But Let's face it, it's a problem.:blush:

    Does anyone else have this problem when it comes to their school materials? What do you do to stay on top of it all?

    A friend suggested that I scan it all onto a flashdrive, and store the hard copy binders on a very high shelf, out of the way. I don't want to waste precious printer ink every day to print out originals, just to photocopy them in school. But I'm wondering if others have tried this. Did it work for you? Any guidance?

    For many reasons, I prep at home, so keeping my stuff at school is not a great option.

    Please help!:help:
     
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  3. Ilovefirst

    Ilovefirst Comrade

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    I don't have any suggestions but I will say you aren't the only one with this problem. I could have written this post!
     
  4. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    WELL!
    I am a:D JUNKAHOLIC" (It's a word now!), BIG TIME! I dn't wnt 2 call it JUNK because junk is rubbish according to the dictionary, BUT it is JUNK to Hubby:( and others. I have some boxes in the Guest room, some in my designated daughter's room, and some boxes in the Garage all full of school stuff. It is a habit that some of us teachers who live by that...LINE..."YOU'LL NEVER KNOW", like you mentioned, have. MY JUNK has come to the rescue, MANY A TIME though, when I needed something fast! It's my SCHOOL junk and I LOVE IT!:D
    You can store them in CRATES and ROTATE them, as needed.:cool:
    Rebel1
     
  5. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I don't really consider myself a packrat.... I have changed from position to position over the last few years. Doing Resource and Methods led me to getting resources for all sorts of grades, then I did a behaviour intervention... which also turned into delivering grade five curriculum as well... so I have all sorts of grade five stuff. Then who knows what will happen next year. I can't wait to get into a job that continues so that I can finally find a home for this stuff!
     
  6. dr.gator

    dr.gator Comrade

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    Ditto! I wish I knew how to get motivated enough to get organized. I think jumping in with both feet my be the obvious answer.
     
  7. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Move into a smaller house, 'cause you can't take it all with you. Have a non-pack rat help you. My husband stood over me and "helped" me get rid of 20 years of stuff.

    I used the rule, if you haven't used it in a year, toss it. I also got rid of lots of books, as you can find almost anything on line.
     
  8. Teaching Grace

    Teaching Grace Connoisseur

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    I went through and used the same rule you're supposed to use for your closet. If you haven't worn it in 6 months then get rid of it... I figured that if I hadn't used it in a school year, it got given away to someone who needed it. I'll be giving away more at the beginning of the year because I'm buying all matching baskets for my class library. So I'll be giving away a ton of baskets (which teachers always love!) I took over for a teacher who was a major, major, major packrat! For example, there was a box of science supplies for 6 years before, stuck in a corner, the box was rotten all the way through. I found things like a gallon of elmer's glue and 24 packs of glued shut glue bottles...
     
  9. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    Me too! I'm working hard on my storage options this summer, and I'm getting rid of things I haven't used in the last few years.
     
  10. 4myclass

    4myclass Cohort

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    Okay, I think that I am going to win the prize on this one. I have a shed literally filled to the roof with teaching supplies. I also have several boxes in two other sheds, not to mention what I have at school.:blush:

    I too have switched grades and schools several times. This is the first year that I have been able to keep everything at school and I have been teaching for 13 years. I know that I have probably rebought several items because I had them in storage over the summer and then couldn't find them again. :whistle: Just don't tell my husband.

    I keep thinking that I need to empty out my sheds, but when summer comes around, it is so hot 100+ most days. It's hard to get motivated. I really think I need the show "Clean Sweep" to come and help me do this. I could probably make a fortune selling the stuff on Ebay. I don't want or need most of it anymore, I just need to get rid of it.
     
  11. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    As for physical stuff, I don't know. But for papers, worksheets, projects... anything on paper, I keep only electronic copies, and toss out the rest. If I kept extra copies of every paper that I've used or could find a use for, I'd be drowning in paper.

    So I do typically scan anything I can. If I find I need it, I print it off... the school pays for my ink anyway, and I think it's better to use up some ink than store thousands upon thousands of documents.

    Plus, it helps me stay organized. I keep all documents sorted in files on my computer by topic and course. I also then back everything up onto an external hard drive each week to ensure I have a backup in case of disaster. This has worked well for me, but I'm a bit of a techno-nerd.
     
  12. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    I am a secondary English teacher. You want to talk about being overrun with papers? Come and see my classroom and my house. Thankfully, I have begun to organize everything.

    Binders are horrible to store, so I bought cardboard file boxes (Office Max) and organized everything in file folders, except for a very few items that need to stay together (see TIP below). I label the boxes and store them on wire shelving that I bought at KMart. When my daughter moved back home and into our study for a while, I moved several of my boxes and shelves to school. I thought I would go crazy not having them at home, but it worked out.

    The boxes can be covered with fabric, wallpaper, decorative paper, etc. by spraying them lightly with spray adhesive and tacking on the paper or whatever you want to use.

    TIP: If you like using binders, get the ones that have little tabs for hanging on the file frame in your filing cabinet and also have label slots on the up side. They are wonderful! I bought mine from Quill.
     
  13. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    I used to keep everything on my USB memory key until a teacher's was stolen. I keep mine close, and try to keep back ups, but I've had too many technical crashes in the last couple of years to trust electronics (I dropped my laptop a few months ago just a few months after my hard drive crashed--now it needs ANOTHER hard drive-- a never-ending story for me).
     
  14. TulipsGirl

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    Oh My, I feel so much better!!! Thanks everybody!! It's good to know that there's a world of people out there who know exactly what I'm going through... I LOLed at at all you're descriptions... Y'know, for someone who can't let go of papers, I'm merciless when my students are cleaning out their desks. I stand over them like a hawk, demanding they make a decision: "Is it going home, or in the garbage? Home or garbage? Home or garbage? no loose papers!" :lol: They really have no concept of space, what with all these little scraps and projects that they love to make out of scrap paper at this age!

    Ron, I'm not at all technologically savvy, by any stretch of the imagination - but thanks for confirming that it can be done. I think I might have come up with a solution! I'm going to try to scan everything and keep one electronic copy. I'll keep this at home on my computer, and backed up on a flashdrive. So i'll have the papers to look at electronically when I prepare at home, but I'll keep the binders in school for copying purposes. I really hope this works.
    Are there any glitches that y'all forsee in this plan?
     
  15. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Um...I am completely organizationally challenged. Not that I don't try - I buy the binders and storage containers and file boxes, however, not everything stays organized in them :blush:.

    When I read in another post to throw away what you haven't used in a year - I could not physically do that. I have different classes each year, so I never know when I'm going to be able to use it again right? And I make a lot of my assessments, warm-up activities-it doesn't feel right to just toss them. I have a small house, my car doesn't fit in my garage because there are so many boxes in it :eek:. I literally opened a plastic container (silverware came in it)today and went to throw it away and said - you know what I know I could use this for a workstation.

    Tulip - if you do figure out the answer maybe there's hope for the rest of us!
     
  16. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    I couldn't do it either! The "if you haven't used it in a year..." rule might be great for closets and drawers- but it just doesn't work with my school supplies :unsure: When you're cleaning out your closets, you know whether YOU've worn it, and whether YOU will likely wear it anytime soon. But with school materials... You never know who will be in your class, what they're needs will be - that's just part of the territory. I can't bear to throw something out that might be just what might students (whom I don't know yet!) need to help them.

    Sigh.
     
  17. silver rain

    silver rain Comrade

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    I am throwing out everything out that I haven't used in the last 2 years. I just went thru a box and found progress reports from 1994! I even found some things that I can't for the life of me remember buying or even using.
    My hubby is cheering!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The way I figure, I have the internet and I can find anything I need. I am tired of looking thru ALL the binders I have. I have taught for 20+ years and several different grade levels so I have too much STUFF and I am finally letting go!
    IT FEELS GREAT!
     
  18. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Just a technogeek note: please do not use usb flash drives as backups. They are not intended for much more than convenience. Reliable backups should be on a media that you store somewhere and do not access so they are not subject to wear and tear. Making frequent DVD backups, for example. Always make more than one--DVDS or CDS can fail. External hard drives are another option, but you do not want to depend on those either--those can also fail.

    It is best to always have at least 2 copies of your important information in easily accessible form, and then maintain a library of DVDs or similar. Or even store the usb drives somewhere safe.

    (my old roommate had her ONLY copy of her thesis on a usb drive that she kept on her key ring that she tossed around everywhere. I warned her. I gave her DVDs. I suggested online filebox storage, emailing it to herself, anything; I told her to save to her computer and then copy to usb. She didn't listen, and I had to spent an entire weekend with a hairdryer and tweezers trying to get a drive that got muddy back in working order. We managed to get a corrupt copy off that I was able to open in a text edit program and salvage.)
     
  19. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I've got papers from all of my classes. Since most of my upper level classes didn't use textbooks, I have reams of fairly valuable notes. If I want to refer to some hydrology concept, I would rather zero right in on the notes I am familiar with. So, I have kept all of it. I have 6 file boxes full of my homemade binders. I use the book rings that staples has. I made a cover sheet on photo paper and put it in plastic protectors, then assemble the binder with plastic dividers and the rings. Not having a hard binder saves space and maximizes what fill fit. and I have different size rings for different groups depending on the amount of paper. Also, they store as flat piles of paper would.
     
  20. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I'll jump on Molly's bandwagon - I had a USB drive that I left plugged into the computer. Sticking straight out of the front. Which DF failed to notice, was vacuuming, hit it, and broke it into pieces. Not salvageable. Fortunately, everything was on my computer... and now also on CD backups.

    I do have a new USB with everything on it. The first time I plugged it in at my college, I picked up a virus. Make LOTS of backups if you're going to scan in.
     
  21. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    I was contemplating getting a scanner and keeping electronic docs (probably in PDF format) of all my worksheets and handouts... that way I can tag them and search for them on my computer rather than keeping physical paper around.

    This year when I printed worksheets or handouts for my class I got in the habit of printing an extra 10 or so incase I needed them..... and at the end of the year I ended up throwing out REAMS of paper because i had stacks and stacks of extras...

    I figured it'd be too confusing to keep the extras because it was still not enough to pass out to an entire class, so I'd have to count how many I had and then photocopy more... too time consuming.

    Does anybody else scan everything??
     
  22. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    I am with you! Sorry, but hearing about stuff being kept forever because it MIGHT come in handy makes me shudder! My big fear is not that I will need something immediately after I throw it out, but that stuff will pile up and overwhelm me. As you can guess, I am not the type who has knick-knacks around the house, either :p

    My rule is, if something new comes in, something old goes out. By out, I mean I offer it to others first and, if there are no takers, toss it. We have a "sharing table" at my school where you place items you no longer need, and the other teachers "shop" there. It's painless!
     
  23. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    I am so glad you're warning me about this - If I'm gonna do this, I wanna do this right. So does this sound pretty safe to you:

    I'll scan everything on to my computer. I'll back them up on to 2-3 backup CD's (in terms of reliabilty, are CD's or USB's preferred?)Keep them stored with other CD's, not access them unless I don't have access to my computer, or if I need to backup something that I've just scanned. My computer will be my main source for viewing my materials. I really appreciate your , and everybody's advice on this - I'm determined to cut down the clutter!!!

    I've even decided to NOT RENEW my subscriptions to magazines and reproducibles for this year. I adore them, and look forward to getting them in the mail, and I'm soooo glad I've subscribed to them until now, but after several years, I have enough. CLEARLY I have enough. There's plenty to use, and I need NO MORE. (can you tell I'm trying to convince myself? :eek:)
     
  24. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    I'm a pack rat! When I left one school in 05, I got rid of a lot of stuff. Now, 4 years later, I'm still looking for some of it and realizing I don't have it anymore. So then I'm afraid to get rid of stuff again! A former principal once told me "All great teachers are packrats." Maybe that's a good sign?!
     
  25. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Same here! I have a LOT of papers/worksheets that I've collected over the yrs & then, I have a HUGE stack of paper that has printing on one side, but it's plain on the other side, so it's good to use in my printer to print random things. My BF says that my desk at home looks like Office Depot w/ all the post-its, staplers, markers, etc. I have.

    But, it's not just w/ school stuff. I have tons of clothes, but they're good quality, wearable clothes, not some old things that are out of date or need to go to the rag bag. I just have a lot of clothing. I have quite a bit of makeup too.

    I need a bigger house to hold all the papers, clothing, shoes, & books/magazines I have.

    I try to live by my rule of: If I haven't used something in a year, throw it out, but it's still hard sometimes!
     
  26. LiveNLearn

    LiveNLearn Comrade

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    As a total neatfreak, I was drawn to this thread.

    I follow the one year rule. I figure if I am not using a resource, I should find someone who can. I also subsribe to the thought that good teaching comes from within... not from within a storage container in the backyard stacked ten feet high. If I find I need a resource, I know that I can find it or make it myself. Good teaching strategies don't come in a box. :haha:
     
  27. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Apologies in advance if I am just going over stuff you already know! If you are not already used to scanning for printable quality, you should play around with settings and test the print output. You generally need to scan at least 150dpi, preferably 300dpi. There should be presets in your scanning program for this. File sizes can get big, so if you have a lot of stuff, you probably are going to want DVDs. You don't want crazy huge files, but it is better to scan at higher quality than you need just so you have more future options. You can order a big spindle of DVDs on amazon cheaply. When I make backup/archive disks, I always burn two at once. My mom and I have a graphic design business, and we well know the importance of fanatical backups! Store the disks in a binder or a photo box so they stay safe. There are a lot of disk catalog utilities around. If you give the documents good file names, you can always find what you need easily.

    Hope this helps a bit. You are welcome to PM me or ask questions and I will try to help if I can.
     
  28. teacher333

    teacher333 Devotee

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    I hate to throw out ANYTHING because in our profession we never know where we are going to be moved to with a new school year! I hate to think about starting fresh with researching, and copying, and filing, oh my! LOL! I have made some progress, tho - I used to think if I had 20 copies of something, I needed to keep them all, but now I only keep one as a master copy. But now, I find my in-box in my computer and my learning folder is now becoming my new filing cabinet...neater, but still too much information!
     
  29. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    This week is supposed to be the Great Paper Purge at my house - somewhere, I hope, I will find the check for $150 I got from the district as reimbursement for some books I ordered! (If not, I'm going to have to ask if they'll issue me a new one...)

    One thing I do with documents I want to keep in a safe place is to send myself a copy on my gmail account. That way I can get at it from anywhere. My last laptop crashed with the only copy of my literature review for my grad research, but fortunately I had it on my gmail - whew!
     
  30. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    I hear you on the packrat. Mine is more my homelife...I am moving from a cluttered 3 bedroom house (just me and my 3 pets!) to a non-cluttered 1 bedroom apartment.

    I have shed SOOOOO much stuff. I am actually taking a 20 min break at the moment and then I am going back to cleaning out. I have basically filled-to the brim-a 2 cqar garage with things I am NOT taking. My point is, it can be done...and FEELS SO GOOD.

    It helps to think of the stuff as robbers of my energy and time because that's really what they are. Moreso, with me, it was robbing me of happiness and any youthful adventures I should be having instead of being serious and cleaning a house that took so long to clean because it was just too cluttered.

    When it comes to my classroom stuff, I have been much better, mostly because I changed positions several times over the last 7 years. I am scanning resources I want to take with me to cut down on boxes I need to move. A few things are kept as hardcopies because I know I will use them for sure. 50% of the stuff I have is not even getting scanned. I am trying to keep it very simple! My philosophy there is I am a very effective teacher on my own and don't need 50 different resources for one concept. I am really weeding out and keeping only the very very BEST/

    Good luck!!
     
  31. Kindergarten31

    Kindergarten31 Cohort

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    Hey-I have been in the same classroom for 30-yes30 years and teaching now for 32. You think you have stuff!:) I plan to teach only 3 more years so have been working hard at eliminating unnecessary things. What am I saving it for? Once in a while I get that 'throw everything out' urge and get alot accomplished. And to be honest, I have never said that I'm sorry I threw something out-I haven't ever needed it again. We also have a 'free' table in our lounge and I put alot of stuff there, but also pick up good things other teachers put there.:( My main problem is that I am lazy and there is always something more urgent to do in the classroom during the year. We can't get into our school during the summer, so it is difficult to find the time during the year to go thru a cabinet. If you come up with a solution, please share!
     
  32. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    3 summers ago, I decided to go through EVERYTHING (school-oriented)!!!!! I tossed what I hadn't used in 2 years; and then tossed out duplicate copies.

    I then, purchased clear rubbermaide type boxes with lids and organized everything by themes...books, workbooks, worksheets went into the bins.

    This last year...everything is just a tad scattered and I think just a few hours of reorganizing is going to do it.

    Believe me...it has been liberating! I can find everything at a moments notice.

    I think all those summers watching those Organization shows really helped; it got to the point when my son hated me to watch them cuz then I'd tell him...it's time to do some massive cleaning. :p
     
  33. touchinglives

    touchinglives Companion

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    I'm in the processing of weeding right now, and it soooooo hard to get rid of stuff, you know, "Just in case..."

    One of the previous posts helped me though, because like they said - you can get anything online, so I'm going to hold onto that thought as I continue tomorrow!

    I totally agree with TeacherSandra on the feeling of liberation, because the things I have thrown out and organized so far have given me that feeling.
     
  34. MsTeckel

    MsTeckel Comrade

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    O What a great idea. Granted I teach math to elementary kids with autism, but I inherited ALOT of worksheet, thats all the kids did before me. I dont use that many worksheets, so I have two files cabinet drawers full of worksheets. I have no idea what I have. Id love to have the time to go and scan a copy of each paper electronically. Put that on my to do list, along with everything else.
    Thanks

    At home, I personally have a 4 shelf bookshelf and another two shelf one filled with manipulative and books for school. Thats not counting a cabinet full of math stuff at school(that belongs to the school) that I have no idea how to use it for my kids
     
  35. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    Mollydoll, don't apologize - this is a great tip! I hadn't thought about the printing issue, but its definitely something to keep in mind. And thanks for the storage advice, as well. I knew I came to the right place! If you think of anything else that might be helpful I'd love to hear it :D can't wait to get started!
     
  36. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    If I save on CDs or DVDs, will I be able to change the documents in any way? I like saving to USB flash drives because I can change the documents or add to them.

    How are flash drives unreliable? I've had mine for several years with no problems. It's just a matter of keeping up with them and being organized with their use. My biggest problem is that our school has changed preferred programs a few times, and some of my older documents (Eng III that I taught several years ago) can't be opened by the newer programs.

    I don't use the one year rule for subject areas that I don't teach now but may teach again in the future.
     
  37. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

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    I could have written this post! Right now our second bedroom (in a two bedroom condo) has boxes of stuff for school! AGH! I would love to do an online file storage site, but the websites get blocked on school computers. :( If you CAN get it on your computer at school, try box.net. It's really nice and easy to sort your files.
     
  38. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Today was packing day after Summer School ended and I have to say I had y'all in mind when deciding what to throw out. The custodian got mad at me because I had so many bags of trash, but I do think it will be easier next year. I did end up with 2 large plastic containers that I just threw stuff into because I was running out of time :blush:. But it was a start. Small steps right? One day at a time?
     
  39. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    Jul 2, 2009

    I keep nothing at home related to school other than a copy of the teacher's editions of the books I use and a copy of the student books. If I need an activity or worksheet for the following day I'll either find one on line or wait until I get to school. I have 10 rubbermade tubs that hold all worksheets and holiday papers for each month. That way I know exactly where something is. I also have my teacher resource books in magazine file folders (about 15 folders) labeled with each subject area. I also have one 4 drawer filing cabinet for my reading, social studies, and science information that I use each year. I find that I can't work and teach in a cluttered and disorganized room. I make sure everything is picked up prior to leaving for the night. When I walk into my room in the morning I know everything is in its place and I'm ready for a new day. I find myself throwing out more and more each year because there is such a wealth of information on the web that you can draw from.
     

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