Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tips for Keeping Your Week's Supplies Organized

As an elementary teacher I have gone through many systems for organizing my weekly supplies over the years. I've tried a crate with hanging files, but found the files getting too stuffed and the items I wanted hard too dig out. I've tried stacks by subject area on a book case right at the front of the room.  But the stacks kept getting messier and messier.  I've even had moments when I just gave up and had random piles of paper all over the room.  But this year I think I finally found a system that will work for me.

This year I began using my rainbow drawer cart and I think I've found a winner.

What I am loving about this system is how easy it is to use and maintain.  Just this morning I ran into school to make a few photocopies for next week.  When I was done, I paper clipped each set and threw them in the correct drawer.  And voila - all mess was hidden away, and I'm totally ready for next week.

Unlike hanging files, which I've seen many teachers use, I find these drawers helpful for all those little things you need for your lesson.    In the picture below you can see my "Current Math" drawer.   Not only does it have my Interactive Notebook and worksheets for the week.  It also holds the place value cards I will use on the white board.

In my "Homeroom Reading" drawer this week I have  my clipboard for taking anecdotal notes on kid's reading, our vocabulary cards (doesn't that judge look scary?), envelopes with sorting activities cut and ready to go as well as a few worksheets.  

When I need something from the drawer, sometimes I can just slip it out, but other times its easier to take the whole drawer out of the cart, pull out the multiple items I might need, and then slip the drawer back in.  Either way, everything is easy to see and keep in place.

Some other tips I've found useful for keeping my papers organized over the years....

Tip 1: Whatever container you use to keep your materials for the week, clean it out weekly.  That worksheet that you didn't get to this week, are you REALLY going to get to it next week.  Don't let it live your storage area for week's on end.  Sometime the recycle bin is your friend.

Tip 2: Have a place to store the extra copies of your worksheets when you're done.  I converted a box lid into a paper tray (I prettied it up with duct tape.) and every time we finish a page I toss the extras in the box lid.  Now, when Johnny's paper turns up missing, or you have 10 no name papers and no heavenly way of deciphering whose is whose, you have easy access to your extras.

Tip 3: When students finish working on a worksheet, immediately clip the set and the answer key together with a paper clip.  It is so much easier to tackle that basket of grading when it's already organized and tidy.

Tip 4: I frequently have large numbers of math worksheets ready and waiting to be used, because I have the binding cut off our math books.  Instead of keeping the entire stack in one math drawer, I pull out the worksheets I need for this week and put them in my "Current Math" drawer.  The rest of this unit's worksheets go in a separate "Math Unit" drawer.  It makes it way easier to sort through what I need as I'm pulling things out for the current math lesson. Plus it leaves room for other types of materials that I'll need for this week's lessons.

Tip 5: TEACHER BINDERS - oh boy have I discovered the joy of having an organized teacher binder.  Check out all the great things I keep organized in my teacher binder in this previous post.  I really started utilizing my teacher binder in a new way this year and it has GREATLY reduced the amount of paper clutter on my desk.  Now, every time I get a paper from my principal with information I need to use all year, I have a place to put it and better yet, I can find it again when I need it. My binder has become my new best friend.

What tips do you have for keeping your classroom neat and tidy?  Share your ideas in the comments below.