Tuscarora Teacher Time Saver Tip #1 First Weeks: Get Your Self Pro-Organized
Drawers & Cabinets
To get your year off to the best start, take everything out of your cabinets, drawers, etc. This may seem daunting, just take one drawer or shelf at a time and take things out and really look at what you have: are the items still useful, have you used them in the last two years, do they need to be updated or refreshed? Look for similar items or more of the same, you want to store all like items together. Then put back the things you plan to use in the order you will use them. For example bulletin board items: September on top then October, etc. When September is over, it goes to the bottom of the stack and will eventually find its way back to the top in time for next year. Next start a give-away table for teachers to share your unused materials. This will help you find lost items, see if pieces need to be added and keep your materials to a manageable amount and ready to go. You are working toward time saving.
For supplies: if possible put smaller items in bins and put logical things together in the same place, that way when you need pencils—you can easily direct a student to get the number needed. Label your items and if possible for smaller items see through boxes help to visually find and assess if you are running low on a certain supply. Try to use school materials rather than buying school supplies, there are plenty of other items you need to spend money on to keep yourself prepared.
File cabinets are another way to use/lose lots of time. Try one drawer at a time and make each drawer a category: Reading, Math, Science, etc. Have a separate drawer for your reading curriculum items so you can use this same strategy by units.
Within that file put all the files in alphabetical order, you can quickly see you have duplicate files. Also, when you have time take one file at a time and flip through…still good ideas? Don’t keep more than 2 copies, I know that is scary, unless you use it every year you will spend more time looking for the extra copies.
That being said, keep items you use at the beginning of each year, monthly activity sheets, fluency passages, assessments for instance that can be reused, but they are in a specific place every time so they can easily be found and used at a moments notice. The beginning of the year stuff, you can quickly count and make just the copies needed for the new school year. A volunteer can help with this by putting a post-it note of the quantity. (or even make copies for you at the end of the year for the fall).
More on filing cabinets: Type labels on address labels in a large, readable font and space them on the label so the words go to the top of the label so they are easily seen in the file cabinet. This is quicker than you think once you have your drawers in alpha order. Once you set up the template, you can delete the words on move on to a new drawer, the formatting will be the same. This is also a good volunteer job. If there are many pages or parts in the file, consider putting them in an expandable file folder, then the pages will stay neat and not flop down. You could also consider color coding folders, but I like to save those for special projects. If you use pages over and over throughout the week, consider putting 1 master in a page protector inside a binder so you can quickly grab it to make copies , that way the page stays protected. Keep 2 copies if this makes you less nervous. This will eliminate the crinkling and marks that eventually make it hard to get a good clean copy. Do any pages need to be refreshed, can two pages be combined for better use, do they still meet your needs? Take a good hard look, you want your students to be able to read the pages and eventually those pages will go home as well.
The old metal, vertical filers are great on top of a shelf to keep items you can easily grab at a moment’s notice, consider color coding these files, ie. field trip forms, money receipts, student labels, discipline forms, absent forms. Small binders will fit in as well for newsletters, discipline records, parent contact record and so on. Keep similar things together so it is logical to find items now and later.
Keeping your paperwork organized so you don’t spend time looking for things and can quickly grab what you need is a huge sanity and Time Saver.
I have saved many pins to Pinterest on how folks have organized their classrooms. Take a look so you can be Pro-organized. I never took photos of my organization, which received many positive comments, be pro-organized and photograph your room, organization, bulletin boards, and all you do to make your classroom inviting. Remember to do it during non contracted times so there are no students in your photos.