Teacher organization is an essential skill in education. I consider myself a highly organized person, possibly due to my mother, yet many students and teachers have never perfected this elusive talent.
Incorporating technology into daily instruction is one way in which teachers can leverage more time, restructure learning activities so they become more meaningful and provide opportunities for more rigorous instruction. Digital tools can be seamlessly integrated into the curriculum to save teachers time and enhance learning time.
These are a few tricks of the trade that I learned teaching:
Tip # 1: Keep your desk organized! Keep your desk organized!
This is a must in any profession, especially for teachers, who are meant to be role models. I have teacher friends who spend hours cleaning their desks once they are out of control. Just start with a clean desk and maintain it. This is what I have on my desk! Get folders, dividers, post-it notes, whatever you prefer, but remember, always keep your desk clean!
Tip # 2: Get a good planner and USE it!
Find a planner that works for you. I personally use Google Keep and it helps me stay organized at home and at school. I use google calendar to keep track of all my dates and events. If you are a paper person and like to physically cross off your to-do list then keep a good planner! Do what works for you!
Tip # 3: Use Post-it Notes
Don’t be afraid to use a post-it note. There is something so gratifying in crossing off a post-it note and throwing it in the trash. I keep post-it notes in the front of my room closest to daily instruction, on my desk, in my purse, and in my lunch bag. Get different colors, sizes, and shapes. You can literally never have too many!! I may be the queen of post-it notes but I embrace it!!
Tip # 4: Type your lesson plans
This has taken me a few years. Yes, years! I used to use this lesson plan book. But I highly recommend typing your lesson plans. I use google drive so when I make an update it automatically updates on any device I use. If I make a change at home, it shows up at school and vice versa! Any websites that I want to use for a lesson are hyperlinked into my plans. That way next year you have your plans changed and you can easily see what you taught the previous year. It also makes moving lessons for snow days really easy. Think about it. How many days do you have to erase from that paper planner when you have reached your 13th snow day?
Here are a few ways I integrate technology into my classroom to stay organized:
Through their cell phones, tablets, or laptops, students can electronically send responses immediately to an electronic spreadsheet that allows me to assess whole-group or individual feedback. I use this information to guide my teaching and instruction. Socrative is amazing for test review games but I also use it for my tests. My students can scroll through questions at their own pace and when they hit “submit,” they get their grade. All I have to grade is short- answer responses. My grading time is cut to 10 minutes instead of hours by using Socrative for tests and quizzes!
You can also use it for homework or daily classroom instruction. For example, when students answer a critical- thinking question, the spreadsheet or graph may reveal that a majority of students did not comprehend a concept of the assignment. This encourages me to reteach or review a particular idea or question.
Google Forms for Data Collection
I simplified my life with Google Forms. Google forms can help you plan an event, send a survey, give a quiz, or collect information in an easy way. Through Google Forms, responses are automatically collected in a spreadsheet. Responses can be shown in a graph or sorted by a spreadsheet column.
I use Google Forms on the first day of school to collect student information, back to school night data, rubrics for projects, and so much more. My students even asked me to make a Google Form for a debate evaluation so that their handwriting would not be used to reveal their identity when critiquing their fellow classmates.
Problems and Solutions:
- “I don’t have a pencil”
Problem: Students don’t bring pencils or pens and it is so frustrating. I lend pencils and pens that NEVER got returned.
Solution: I tie a pencil to a clipboard.
Reasoning: That way students cannot walk off with a pencil or pen without me noticing my bright orange and green clipboard. Another latent function of the clipboard is that it is so awkward and bright that they are embarrassed and usually bring a pencil or pen the next day.
2. “I lost the handout. You know the one with the _____ topic on top.
Problem: Handouts can pile up and become a mess in students’ lockers, cubicles, trapper-keepers, and backpacks.
Solution: Help them AND yourself with a helpful unit- numbering system. Every one of my units starts with a number → 1-10. Each handout is also assigned a number 1-25. Each and every handout I give out has the unit and handout number. For example Unit 1 and handout 4 is # 1-4.
Reasoning: This system is so beneficial that many teachers have started to adopt my system. I do notebook checks with the handouts to make sure they are organized. After each unit, I have my students put them into a folder so they are at no time carrying more than 25 handouts. Usually, a unit is less than 10.
Another latent effect of this handout numbering system is that it helps ME with storage and reference. I often say “take out 1-4” or “homework is 1-4.” I also have a file system in a cabinet where students can go and get a number they missed (from the current unit). I know firsthand that this system is genius!
3. “I turned my handout in…. you must have lost it”
Problem: Students claim they turned in work and it “disappears.”
Solution: I have 1 turn in bin for my whole day located in the front of my class…. After each period I take the handouts from the bin and put them into a specific folder that is labeled for each period. One side of the folder is for work that needs to be graded and the other side is graded school work.
Reasoning: This system keeps me organized. It helps me monitor late work and it allows me to focus on teaching/learning and not searching for paperwork. At the start of every class, I take out the folder and give out handouts from the graded side.
How do you stay organized? What tips or tricks do you have?
Favorite Products in the Classroom
- My favorite planner helps to keep me organized throughout the year!
- I love these teacher stamps when grading!
- This is my pencil bag.
- I use this to stay organized with my to-do lists!
- I use these for station work if I don’t want to laminate.
- This is my paper grade book.
- I love this shirt for the first day of school.
- I love this voting shirt when I teach about our government.
- My favorite coffee for back to school!
- I go through so many of these!