How do you stay organized?

Discussion in 'Early Childhood Education Archives' started by KimberlyBest, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. KimberlyBest

    KimberlyBest Comrade

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    I'm a first year teacher and things are less than organized :eek: . Any tips on how you keep your units, bulletin boards, center materials, student files etc. tidy so you can get to them again next year? I'm realizing I can't keep going in this unorganized manner if I ever want to find anything again :cool: (hey at least I realize it :D ) Our school has to pack in and pack out - meaning we have to remove everything at the end of the school year from the buildings and move it all back in the next year.

    :thanks:
    Kimberly
     
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  3. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    file folders placed in file cabinets are wonderful. I file things away in my file cabinets according to subject and in the order they occur throughout the year. I keep a separate hanging file crate for all the students. They each have their own file and I place all assessments and records in there. As far as bigger items, I bought rubbermaid bins..........all the same size so they stack, and put bigger items and pieces in those. I label the outside of each bin so I can access them easily and they stay stacked above my cabinets. You could do it by month, or unit, whatever works best for you.
     
  4. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Kimberly, I'm curious what you are doing with all that stuff now? I noticed I didn't take into account you have to pack everything up and take it with you!!!!!!! ICK! :( I suppose the file cabinet wouldn't be the best idea for you then. Hopefully you will hear from someone who has to do the same thing........and has some helpful tips for you! :)
     
  5. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    You can get the portable file folder crates. You can get them from Walmart for $5 or something. They stack nice and you can fit a lot in them. They also have a closing lid so you don't have to worry about the papers falling out.
     
  6. angncfl

    angncfl Rookie

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    Ziplock bags are great for storing smaller laminated items. I label the bag with a sharper, throw it in a labeled file and it's there for next year. The "Trend" border and chart boxes are also wonderful for BB storage.
     
  7. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I think the first key is to label, label, label! I use neon colored file folder labels for each cupboard and drawer in my room, telling everything that I put in there. Then I don't have to rummage (much!). For BBs, I fold a piece of cardboard in half and place any pictures or large pieces in it. The letters (which I laminate) go into a half size manila envelope with the words written on the outside, then staple that to the cardboard. I have about a six inch gap between a cabinet and the wall, so these are all stacked there like cookie sheets. I hate doing bb so much that I don't want to have to do them again next year. I heard a great tip once and if you are organized enough (which I am determined to be) it would be very helpful. Decide what you will put on your boards all year, then layer the paper on. Each month, just take off the next layer. I am definetely doing this with my calendar board, and maybe a couple others.

    My saving grace this year has been my student aide-she is always willing to file papers, laminate, cut out or whatever. I highly recommend finding an aide (whom you trust), and delegating!

    kcjo
     
  8. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    How OC is this? I hate writing out things because I want everything to look the same so I always print labels out on label stickers.:eek: My kids files, lesson files, everything!:eek:
     
  9. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    Roll BB borders and put them in the plastic frosting cans. Put a sample around the outside of the can.

    Label and put in file folders......

    It is the pits to have to take everything home over the summer.
     
  10. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    It is. I have a long flat crate (they're made for going under beds) that I keep all my border, banners, and anything long in. It keeps them nice and flat. I also laminate everything so it lasts longer. Ziplock is making those XL bags now that are perfect size for keeping BB things together. They are kind-of expensive.
     
  11. KimberlyBest

    KimberlyBest Comrade

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    Thanks for the replies everyone! I'm taking notes! Yes, pack in and pack out will be a hassle but I try to look at the bright side - if I clean things out once a year it's better than letting things pile up - like at my house LOL :D I'm definitely getting some of those new ziploc big bags I flipped the first time I saw the commercial!!!
     
  12. tarheelsak

    tarheelsak Companion

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    In reference to your units, I like to organize my units into notebooks-3 ring binders. For example, my ocean unit is in one notebook, with sections divided for each ocean animal that we teach. I even keep my samples that I show the students in there if I can flatten it. I punch holes in it and keep it in there. I have a notebook for the beginning of the school year, with copies of letters, forms, first two weeks activities, ect. You can stand the notebooks up in a crate or put them into plastic bins.
     
  13. Noel

    Noel Companion

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    Worksheets

    I have so many extra worksheet to go along with things, especially holiday and seasons and such I did this and found that it worked really well:

    I took pocket folders, one for every month and one for every subject I teach, I labelled the pockets on each one, "to use" and "used" I start out each year with all of the worksheet on the "to use" side, as I use copy and use them I promptly return it to the "used" side this way I know what I already had them do.

    It was a little time consuming to set up but it is such a snap now, I can easily grab the February folder for Valentine's worksheets, games, puzzles or pull out my Math folder for coin counting worksheets.

    It has really helped me stay organized. One more thing I do...after the students leave I close my door and set my time for 5 minutes, I force myself to clean off my desk, put stuff away, and get rid of my piles. When the 5 minutes is up, it usually looks better sometimes, I really don't feel like doing this, but I force myself too....the next morning is always better with a semi-neat desk.

    We too pack in and pack out. I have made it my policy to spend the time putting everything away in only an organzied fashion and clean out and pitch the "junk"!
     
  14. diggerdeb

    diggerdeb Comrade

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    Feb 4, 2006

    Just curious-
    Why do you need to pack in and out?
    I cannot imagine how hard that would be.
     
  15. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Yes, I feel for you. I have sooooo many stuffed file drawers. However, it is quite true that you will become an efficient packer and you won't become a pack-rat! Both good things.

    I keep BB letters in notebooks. Each letter has a sheet protector. I have lots of different styles (from when I had lots of energy for BBs) and all the different kinds of As are together, Bs, etc. Makes it easy to find the letters I need. Same for numbers.

    I use the poster filing box and it is now so heavy that I can't move it. It is separated by subject area. I also use the border box and the shorter one for sentence strips. I don't like to roll my borders. I don't even like to replace them much anymore so I just leave the same old cute ones up on the same old plain navy fabric background. The kids don't care. They just like to see their work.

    I keep my monthly files in my desk drawer and that is very handy. At the first of the month I go through the appropriate file and find the activities I want and write them in my planner and make copies of whatever is needed. I keep plastic file folders on my desk with whatever is needed for current work. A standing file thing on my desk holds teacher guides. The shelves behind my desk hold additional teacher resources.

    I have had to move classrooms about 4 times in 7 years and never want to do it again.
     
  16. KimberlyBest

    KimberlyBest Comrade

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    Feb 4, 2006

    We are a charter school and only have the buildings we occupy for a certain time period. We are located on the Brevard Music Center campus and our school buildings are theirs and we utilize a certain number of them during the school year. It's really nice since it makes us more of a walking campus instead of just long concrete hallways. We are nestled in the mountains and it give our students alot more exposure to nature than they would normally have. One disadvantage is that we have only so many buildings and rooms we can use that we have to juggle classes each year and where they are going to be located (it also depends on how many students we have enrolled.) I love the school and this is only my first year so I'd like to pack things away as organized as I can so that next year when they come out of the trailers I can put it where it needs to go quickly. I can only pray I'll be in the same room - there's a good chance I won't but oh well, that's the charter school life :D

    I'm definitely going to invest in some serious organizational tools very soon. I'd rather get things as organized as I can. I'm not that way normally but I figure it's a good time to try it out LOL
     
  17. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Hey Kimberly,
    This is off topic, but my daughter has been to the Brevard campus 3 times for summer distance running camps. She says it is beautiful!

    I agree that getting organized now is a great idea. It will save you so much time in the long run. My first couple of years I felt like I was constantly digging out, because the retiring teacher I replaced never threw anything away, and while little of it was useful, at first I was afraid to throw any of it away!

    I organize my files and binders by topic - seems to make it easier for me than by textbook chapter or month.
     
  18. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    I'm with you with packing. Normally as long as our stuff is in boxes, and can easily be move around we're okay. But this year we're moving around 3 schools and putting them into 4 (we've got a new building-yeah! {that's where I'm going}). So every one Preschool-5th grade has to pack away for the summer. No word when we'll actually get into the school. The district is doing a lot of renivation over the summer. They've really been working hard.
     
  19. KimberlyBest

    KimberlyBest Comrade

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    Missy - your daughter is right - Brevard is a beautiful area! And our campus is awesome, ponds, hiking trails, nature - what more can we ask for!

    I have always organized my files by topics, now I think I'll futher put them together by month or season so they will be easier to locate next year. I'm trying to start putting away as much as possible and hoping that I don't get overwhelmed those last few weeks of school. I'm bringing a lot of things home right now because we don't have much storage (hubby is really happy about that hee hee).
     
  20. Tri'nTeacher

    Tri'nTeacher Rookie

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    GREAT topic....organization...I love it! Anyway just wanted to say that my master teacher was a genius at recycling. She uses the old iBook boxes for her units (reading/language arts). The boxes were just piling up so she rescued them and put them to use as unit boxes. Those boxes are so nice with a handle on top they are very nice and sturdy. She just covers up the boxes with shelf paper and labels the boxes......oh and of course they were FREE!

    Maybe you have these boxes around campus? Thanks for posting the question...I too am taking notes :D
     
  21. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Feb 10, 2006

    Missy--this is off topic too, but.... what kind of running does your daughter do? I'm a certified fan of runners. My daughter just graduated from a UC which she attended primarily on a running scholarship--distance and mid-distance. She's in athletic administration now and planning to coach at the university. How about your daughter?

    Oh--and this is a great topic for me, another first-year teacher. In Kinder, I'm sharing a room and that makes it even worse! My partner is NOT organized (I make him crazy with even minimal effort! :-D), but I'm trying not to get too out of control. But it's tough when you have limited storage space!! Thanks for all the great tips! (I too LOVE the Trend boxes made for borders and sentence strips. They even have some small file folder-sized boxes.)
     
  22. LYNNEP

    LYNNEP New Member

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    Staying organized

    Wow...I can't believe I am choosing this to reply to...but after 13 years of teaching...I finally feel that I am on the right end of things. First of all, never leave the day without clearing off your desk and things put away...It really helps to get started the next day in a positive organized way.

    I put my lesson plans in binders per subject per unit! This way I can pull it off the shelf quickly and see what I used for a lesson. I also put plastic inserts in if I need to put papers and creative activities, stickers, etc. that I can't put 3 holes in.

    Ziploc bags are my best friends.
    Labeled tubs in my closet.
    Color code things...

    Those are just a few ideas!!!! It takes time...but worth the effort and you will never want to be disorganized again!
     
  23. MrsMikesell

    MrsMikesell Cohort

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    Hi!

    I have moved across the country with my teaching materials, so I've done the pack in/pack out before.

    I keep all my files in file folders by unit/theme and keep them in milk crates. They are pretty easy to carry and stay organized well. Plus, they can be stacked in the corner of a classroom, cover and wrap with pretty fabric (like a bed sheet) and they just "disappear".

    I keep most of my centers in tubs. Those little Sterlite tubs with lids. They can be put into garbage bags to move and they still stack nice. I must have 200 of those tubs in my room. I put a label/photo on the front for easy hunting.

    I use TONS of Ziplock bags for file folders and little things like that. Then they go into a Sterlite box.

    (I really should buy stock in Sterlite...)

    Hope this helps!

    Kelly :)
    http://www.mrsmikesell.com
     
  24. MrsMikesell

    MrsMikesell Cohort

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    Oh, I forgot to add, I have the kids help me keep the room up.

    Each student has a "chore" at the end of the day. I have 4 jobs:

    Stack chairs
    Wipe tables (with a wet sponge that I soak in Lysol daily)
    Sweep floor (with cute little brooms and dustpans I got for $1 each - Mr. Clean brand)
    Dust shelves (Swiffer dust clothes - Walmart band works great too!)

    This makes a big different in just the appearance of the room too!

    Kelly :)
    http://www.mrsmikesell.com
     
  25. Tri'nTeacher

    Tri'nTeacher Rookie

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    Wow Kelly! I bet your classroom is just awesome and that everything is SUPER easy to find. I've been subbing for the last month in different schools and am amazed (in a bad way) at some of the classrooms I've seen. Books and stacks of paper piled everywhere. I opened a utility cabinet once to look for pencils and stuff just came falling out.

    I'm going to be starting a new job on Monday as a reading specialist and I will be sharing a room with a couple of other people. I'm a little worried about the organizational part because I am a neat freak. I too like to print my labels on a computer or using a label maker so that they all are the same (I might need to seek help for this...lol :D). I've already started thinking about how I will organize myself in this classroom, in fact yesterday I was searching for the "ideal" file folder....how OCD is that!

    As far as cleaning goes, I love the idea of chores AND the sponge soaking in Lysol is just genius! I tell you teachers are the most creative and innovative group of professionals there are. I am amazed at how a teacher can make something out of "nothing" a prime example is the milk crates as a storage system.
     
  26. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    Start saving those copy paper boxes. Those are a perfect size to store stuff as well, and they stack nicely.

    School is out today so I'm doing 2 sections of my room (going through and packing what I can). I decided to start taking digital pictures so I know exactly what I have. That way I don't buy the same thing, or spend money on something I don't really need.
     
  27. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Hi srh,
    My daughter is a high school senior and has run 3 years of cross country and 4 years of track (mostly 400, 800, and high jump). She is planning on running in college; she has been offered some scholarship money to run, but may have to turn it down due to also receiving a scholarship based on her National Merit status. She would also like to coach someday! Good luck to your daughter; I would love to hear how the athletic administration field is for women. Where is she hoping to work?
     
  28. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    When nothing else works, or I am just too lazy, I put it in a file folder by month. Since I usually teach in the same order, I have a better chance of finding it.
     
  29. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Missy--My daughter is at UC Irvine, Southern Cal. She also received a lot of academic money (the UCs are harder to get into than the CSU system); why would you have to turn any $$ down? In our case, she got some financial aid, and then they allowed her to receive the academic and employer scholarships first, and then pretty much "covered" the rest of her costs with athletic $$. Better deal for them that way!

    At present, she is trying to figure out how to fit in a Master's program; she has been invited by her coach to assist coach with him. Her heart is in XC. I'm thrilled for her, although it's four hours away from home, and it's already been four years!! :-( But athletics is wide open for women--keep up the good work!! (I love watching the 400m! Such speed!)
     
  30. shimshacks

    shimshacks New Member

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    Organization is key to having a great flow to your classroom. Your students are able to stay organized if you are organized. I give each student a number at the beginning of the school year. That number is the number they place on every paper, the way they line up, the seat number they have. This way it is easier for me to file my paper work and pass out papers. Also, it is a quick way to tell who has not turned in assignments.
     
  31. iharding

    iharding Companion

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    We did the number thing in the second grade that I student taught in. It was the best way to figure out who wasn't turning in assignments. I loved how quickly even the kids new who had what number and could easily tell me who I was missing. Thanks for reminding me of this shimshacks!!
     
  32. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Really Good Stuff has a nice write on/wipe off assignment chart. I think it is $5.95.
     
  33. ad65shorty

    ad65shorty Companion

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    You already received some great suggestions so this will be short. I recommend one thing: Organize as you go! File the papers away before you go home each night. When you're done with a unit, gather all the materials for it and put it away before you get things out for the next unit. If you wait to do it, you're going to end up with a huge pile that is too daunting to tackle. And all it takes is a few minutes a night. You'll be glad you took the time next year when you need something (or another teacher asks for a copy of something). Good luck!
     
  34. KimberlyBest

    KimberlyBest Comrade

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    Jul 4, 2006

    When I originally posted this back in February I think it was I had pretty much created my own little "monster" of disorganization. Now that I'm home for the summer with all of my stuff (our school has to pack completely out of the rooms) I am going to do my best to organize it so that when I start back in August I'll do better.

    ad65shorty - you're my hero, can you come and live with me for a few weeks and teach me this patience you have :D I am always "on the go" and pile stuff up and end up throwing it in to another pile and then "poof" the pile erupts like Mt. St. Helens :eek:

    :thanks: for the replies, I promise I'm going to try to do better for this year!
     
  35. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    If some of you ladies are disorganized, then this homeschooler doesn't feel so bad. I think with just one to teach it's even easier to start that 'pile' to take care of later. These piles beget more plies, it's true!
     
  36. srh

    srh Devotee

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    I'm into my fourth week of "vacation," and I have yet to really start doing anything I said I was going to do to get organized and ready for year two! Aaarrrggghhhh!! I have a garage full of mess (it was in good shape last summer, but I picked around in it all school year); I have tutoring things out to use during summer; I have plans, but no motivation, to go into the classroom to level books, straighten up unit files, etc. Sounds like we should start a club!!

    I so admire people who can "just do it." I tend to procrastinate and find a million other things to do instead of what I need to do. (This morning, I raked the backyard and cleaned the patio--nothing urgent, but yet another diversion...)
     
  37. Tri'nTeacher

    Tri'nTeacher Rookie

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    Jul 4, 2006

    I to tend to procrastinate but I found that if I break up the task into smaller bits then I seem to accomplish more. I start by making a very specific to do list with specific deadlines. I start small and soon enough I feel motivated when I am doing it to just power through it all.

    Of course towards the end of a project I get a little lazy so this is when my "to do" list helps me finish up those last bits and pieces ensuring that I tie up all the loose ends.

    For some reason I get a strong sense of accomplishment when I can cross off something on my to do list....am I weird or what? :D
     

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