How do you stay organized?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by newtothis2006, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. newtothis2006

    newtothis2006 Rookie

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    Jul 21, 2008

    I'm a new teacher- have one year experience. I need a good system for staying organized throughout the year. I would like to have such a system that I could add to and use year after year. More specifically, should I organize my lessons, activities, and reproducibles by state objectives? Should I have a binder for each one?

    What do you do that helps you find things when you need it in an organized way?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. touchinglives

    touchinglives Companion

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    Jul 21, 2008

    I make an agenda and a binder with the lesson plans and materials to be copied to match the agenda. I turn the pages in the binder to be ready for the next day, and either copy materials ahead of time or in the morning. The agenda covers a certain amount of time and is one page, so it just stays in one spot. I can glance at it whenever I need to figure out when we did something or when we will be doing something, and then turn to that section in my binder if I need to find something. It works really well for me. I hope it will work as well this year, as I will have several different classes/binders for the first time.

    Good luck on finding a system that works for you!
     
  4. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Jul 22, 2008

    I am not perfectly organized by any means...here are a few things I am going to try for next year. I think they will work for my style of organizing.

    WORKSHEET/LESSON RESOURCES BINDERS: I have spent hours organizing every worksheet I have used or been given by Chapter and Lesson according to our new math textbook. I kept one copy of the sheets I use or things other teachers gave me all last year. This summer I have watched many a movie and almost all the seasons of LOST online while I label the chapter and lesson in each corner of each sheet, hole punch them and put them into different binders. (there are 13 chapters in the book, but each unit of several chapters gets one binder and a few chapters with a lot of resources got their own binder.) It took a lot of time but I love it now! It is already helping me plan faster (I am planning the lesson for the year now) because everything is in one place so I can see all my choices. I also keep lesson ideas I've found online in there. It will help me in the future because I won't have to search all over for a particular worksheet. I won't be pulling out all sorts of books and files to find what I need. (I make a huge mess doing this.) I will be able to take the big binder to the copy room, make my copies and put everything back while I am there for use next year. PLus, all the sheets are labeled so I can put them back if they do get misplaced or taken out. It has helped me to see which areas I need better resources as well. I also like that the students can use the chapter/lesson labels to organize their binders and study. I'm so excited to see how much easier the year becomes with this system.

    PAPERWORK SORTER: Take 31 file folders (I am using some that are a pretty color.) Label each one with a number 1-31 to represent the days of the month. As you get papers/forms in your teacher mailbox, file them in the folder according to the day of the month it is due. (we get a lot of paperwork at my school.) Each day empty what is in the folder for that day and/or work ahead to empty other days. You can keep everything together with a binder clip (those big black clips). I have been using this successfully at home but with 12 folders--one for each month.
     
  5. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Jul 22, 2008

    Paperheart - I like the 31 day folders - I'll need to ponder that . . .

    NewToThis - I would strongly recommend a portable hard drive and a scanner. If I had it to do over again I would just scan everything into folders on my computer. This has been my summer project, and I'm making headway. Try to buy teacher resources as pdf books only!

    Other than that, what has worked for me is big tubs. I have an 18 gallon tub for every unit I teach (8 major units) and everything goes in there, and stays in my closet til I need it.
     
  6. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jul 22, 2008

    I gave up on paper after year three. I couldn't keep track of anything. I do exactly what Ancient recommends. I have a portable hard drive with all my stuff on it. I just pop it in and print out what I need when I need it.
     
  7. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Jul 24, 2008

    A third (fourth?) for computer organization here. I am a wreck when it comes to handling actual papers. I regularly have to dig to find the surface of my desk. I have given up on keeping handouts from year to year, as I always wind up making new ones anyway. Instead I just put everything in files on the computer - for example, a 9th grade folder with subfolders for chapters and major units. If I give out a handout in class, I put extras in a binder marked for that class so I can find them. At the end of the year, though, I recycle them.

    Two things help me keep track of student stuff. Get some plastic envelopes (the kind with a string that holds them shut) and label one for each period you have. Then put collected assignments into those folders for you to grade or take home. I also use wire bins for papers that have been graded and entered into my gradebook, one per class. If it's in the bin I know it's done and I can give back papers when I have the time.
     
  8. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jul 25, 2008

    I use a one inch binder for each unit of each course. I keep a table of conents at the front listing all papers in that binder and keep the papers in that order. They are in the order of how I use them. All papers go in a sheet protector. I also keep an organizational binder for each class containing class lists, IEPS, student information, the begining of the year procedures, syllabus, etc.

    This probably does not apply to you but I also have a binder for each grade level becuase I am the department chair and I also have one for administration meetings, as well as department meetings, which I run. (When I wasn't department chair I had a department binder, administration binder, and all the ones listed above.)

    On my portable hardrive each course has its own folder with subfolders for each unit, each grade level, the admin, and the department also have their own folder.
     
  9. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Jul 25, 2008

    I love this idea! I will definitely plan to use it to make sure I get my paper work done at the right time.
     
  10. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Jul 25, 2008

    I tried the binder/sheet protector system and it did not work for me, but it seems to for a lot of teachers. I keep everything on my computer with files for extra copies as Dovian described.

    I have stacked trays on my desk for paper work. Tray 1 = do now, Tray 2 = deadline soon, Tray 3 = no deadline (file or trash when have time). Tray 1 is empty by the end of the school day, I check the status of Tray 2 each morning and move things to Tray 1. Tray 3 gets ignored until I have some down time.
     
  11. sumnerfan

    sumnerfan Comrade

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    Jul 25, 2008

    That's a lot of binders. How do you keep them all straight and where do you put them? I have no shelving in my room and currently have my binders in the file drawer.

     
  12. crayonfan

    crayonfan Companion

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    Jul 25, 2008

    I am awful at organization and I am lazy. So I use the portable hard drive. On the lexar I have folders named for the unit and all info for that unit goes into the folder. This is the best organization for me. I don't have time or room for binders and I wouldn't keep up with them...because I am lazy.
     
  13. michelleann27

    michelleann27 Cohort

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    Jul 25, 2008

    I have a resource binder that holds my powerpoint notes, tests, handouts, and worksheets by objective; contained by dividers. The tests have a master copy and a key. That way I do not waste time looking for the answers or second guessing the answers. I also have a smaller binder with lesson plans, bellringers, and to be printed material for that week. All of my material in the resource binder is in sheet protectors.
     
  14. ByCandleLight

    ByCandleLight Rookie

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    Jul 26, 2008

    I'm classroom organized but not so much when it comes to subject material. I will, however, tell you what my friend does to keep on top of things. She's the opposite of me. Her class and closet looks like a hurricane went through it, but her lessons are just about color coded.

    She teaches social studies and separates lessons according to region and then specific activity. She's have a folder for Africa, Middle East, Asia, etc...and inside will be labels for map skills, dialect, religion, and their corresponding activities and standards.

    I suppose you could use the same method for each subject. In my case, I would separate into grammar, writing, literature (with maybe sub-sections for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, etc...)

    Another friend who teaches Spanish goes as far as to use different colored post-its to color code her book. Each section has activities listed and instead of rifling through the index, she places a purple post-in on pages that have a vocabulary exercise she likes to use for that semester, a pink post-in goes where there is a grammar activity, etc...and she staggers the post-its so that the top or sides of the book look like color tabs in a filing cabinet.

    I'm thinking about incorporating some of these idea for this coming year, but I'm balking at the amount of time and energy it would take. I'm lazy that way though.
     
  15. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Aug 2, 2008

    I assign a number to all my students which they add to each paper. Then it's quick to see which number is missing. Papers are also then in order for entering grades into the computer. A HS teacher I know assigns each class a letter and each student a number. 1A, 2A, 3A...16A
    1B, 2B...23B

    This same teacher has the students sign a slip that states something like "I did not turn in assignment XXXX on Oct. 3."
    Followed by student signature.
    Great documentation for the student who tells the parent 'but I did do all of my work.'

    I also use the student numbers for other things such as 'odd numbers please get XXXX.'
     
  16. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Aug 2, 2008

    I did not realize so many people did the computerized way rather than hard copies. It definitely makes sense. I will have to think about it after the school year starts. I have a scanner--just not sure whether it would be the best solution for me. It might be nice though--since I would have lots and lots less to organize and deal with. Our rooms are very crowded.

    I would probably keep a master binder of what I have planned for hte year (what I know I'll use.) But I have about 1 yard full of binders full of material I might use. That's a lot of moving around, dusting, etc.
    Plus, it would be easy to share with a new teacher who has very little and could use it.
     
  17. SciTeacherNY

    SciTeacherNY Companion

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    Aug 3, 2008

    I have a binder for each unit that I teach. I then bought those sheet protectors and inside of them I organized each lesson with their lesson plan and any worksheets needed for the lesson. This has really helped to keep me organized and now that I am moving to a new school will help me easily reorganize my lessons.

    I also keep my lesson plans organized on the computer, but the binders are great for easy assess at school and it's also great for worksheets that I only have hard copies of.
     
  18. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Aug 5, 2008

    Tried the binder/sheet protector method. Lasted only about a month until I realized this method would not work for me. I am a huge fan of the portable flash drive for storing all my lesson plans, smartboard/powerpoint presentations, worksheets, etc. It is my lifeline, which is why I carry it on a lanyard, would feel naked without it. Everything is organized by class and topic--not chapter, since (as I recently discovered) textbooks can change.
    I also keep a folder system in a file cabinet for each subject I have taught. Each has a page for ideas/changes to try, and also extra activities (I usually overplan, so I have some ideas that weren't used). I use the folders at school for easy access and also for quick reference when another teacher is stuck and needs some ideas.
     
  19. sciencegurl

    sciencegurl Companion

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    Aug 7, 2008

    I know our curriculum is designed to meet state objectives, so I don't organize that way. I organize chronologically, which makes more sense to me. I have a binder for each unit with dividers. In the binder I put reproducibles, keys, transparencies, quizzes/tests, labs/activities, etc. As I go through the unit, I take from the back and put the activities done back in the front. Then the next year, I reverse and take from the front and put to the back. This saves me finding the correct "place" each time in the binder and keeps things in order.

    I also have a file box with folders inside labeled Monday-Friday. If I have 2 classes, I'll have two sets of folders, 3 classes, 3 sets etc. I put the homework each day into the folders (extra copies) at the end of the day. I then remove the homework that is in the folder from the previous week. This way I always have 1 week's worth of homework handy. If the student needs something older, I usually won't except it (unless there is an illness).

    I also have a binder for seating charts and grades. We do an online grade book, but I print out blank spreadsheets to check work in class. In my binder I keep a sheet where I record each day what was done in class, the homework etc, so if there is an absence, I can remember exactly what was assigned each day. This year, I'm adding a class log book, where the students will fill in sheets each day of what was done, assigned , due. These log sheets will be worth extra credit.

    I find grading to be a bit challenging to keep up with. On my desk I keep manilla folders where I label the assignment turned in and the date turned in. New assignments go on the bottom of the stack and old ones on top. I try to correct a minimum of 3 folders a day (if not more). This way I am constantly turning out corrected homework. My delay time is less than 1 week, but I'd like to make that faster if I can. Additionally, I don't grade every assignment/practice thing we do. I randomly select practice problems to be graded and the rest I'll post keys on the next day for the students to self-check. I give a short quiz at the end of each week where they can use their practice problems, so that encourages them to do the work.

    I do grade all labs and homework, but keep the size short and to the point. I do grade all quizzes, tests and projects.
     

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