Teacher paperwork can be overwhelming. The amount of papers that go through your hands as a teacher is CRAZY! So what’s the best way to stay organized with all this paperwork. Have a place for everything!
Finding a system that works best for you is crucial. Nowadays, many of our lesson materials are digital, but we still have a lot of physical papers that we need to keep track of, so whether you use file folders, binders, or drawers, find a system that works for you.
Personally, I use drawers. I tried binders and it just wasn’t effective. I would have to find the 3 hole punch, find the correct binder or section, and then find a place to lay the binder flat enough to open the rings without everything falling out.
Using drawers allows me to open the drawer, drop the paper in and move on.
What you need to keep in mind is that your system will need tweaking each year. This will be the 4th year I’ve been in this particular classroom and I have changed the purpose of my drawers each year.
The Flow of Paper
Probably the biggest source of paper is lesson materials and student work. This chart shows the flow of paper at each stage. Most of my materials are digital so if I need student copies, I’ll print them off and put them in the “Copy” drawer. Once a week, I take my copies to be made. When I’m back in the classroom, I put them immediately into the drawers for the subject. I no longer use a daily drawer for papers because I don’t always have copies for each day of the week since we are more digital.
Once work is passed out to students, they glue it into a notebook or put it in their desk folder. The desk folder is for work we are not finished with yet. If the work is complete, the student puts it in the “Turn In Bin.” Once I have collected all the work, I’ll paperclip them and put them in the “Grade” drawer for me to grade at a later time. After grading, I immediately record the grades and put the paper in the file basket to file. Each week I file student papers and then send them home.
Papers from the office typically have 3 ways to flow:
Papers to be sent home with students go immediately to my student file basket
Mail or catalogs are either recycled or put in a drawer for later
Sometimes we get papers we need for something a little later, I either put those under my calendar or in my ADMIN basket.
Most of these papers are needed for documentation or record keeping. Typically these are only needed for the school year. I keep these in file folders in a small filing cabinet. Running records, field trip forms, signed report cards, writing samples…things I need to keep until I can shred them at the end of the year.
I have one exception when it comes to binders. Well, technically two because I also have a substitute binder. I use a binder to keep student information, parent contact documentation, IEP information, log-in forms, academic and behavior documentation. I do find this information easier to keep in a notebook because it’s easier to access than pulling a pile of paper out of a drawer. All of these forms are from my Data Collection Bundle.