Thursday, August 25, 2016

Organizational Tip: Lots of Folders, Bins, and Boxes

I feel a bit weird about organization, because my system is far from perfect and I still need to work on this myself.  My main issue, now that I'm entering my 13th year in the classroom, is that I have way too much stuff.  Luckily, I've switched classrooms at least once every three years.  This has at least forced me to purge once every few years.  So that is tip number 1.

1)  Purge often.  Don't wait until you need to move all of your stuff for a new building or a new job or for retirement.  Go through all of your stuff every spring and/or fall and get rid of as much stuff as possible.

2)  Digital Folders.  I have a flash drive with literally thousands of files.  I need more folders to organize.  I have folders for each course, unit, and year that I have taught.  I've got folders for projects, warm-ups, and anything else you can imagine

Prior to mass storage like this, I used a 1 inch binder for every unit in every course that I taught. I still have those binders, but I've been trying to phase them out my scanning answer keys and such.  I could certainly use  the storage space for supplies for projects and the like.

I have yet to switch to cloud storage.  I have so much stuff that I'd need a pay program.  Do you know of a cloud storage place with 16 GB for free?

3)  Physical Folders.  I have a color coded folder for each group of students in my classes.  The folders are laminated and numbered so they can be reused all year.  As groups change, students just use a different folder.  The group folders are how I collect all work from students each day.  This includes warm-ups and classwork.  I also give each student a 3-prong folder to organize their weekly cumulative assessments along with their tracking sheets for standards based grading.  The only downside to this, is if you ever try to take these home to grade them, you need to take a copier box home to be able to carry them all.

4)  Bins.  I use a milk crate style bin with hanging folders for students to turn in their group folders.  I also use cardboard letter trays for students to pick up supplies for their stations.  I have bins marked "one per group" and "one per person" where I place handouts, cards for sorts, scissors, glue sticks, and any other items that students may need on any given day.  All of these are placed on one lone table divided into sections for each class.

5)  Boxes.  I unpack very few items each year.  If I don't use it daily, it stays in a labeled bankers box on a shelf in the closet.  This way when I do need to move classrooms, I don't have that much packing to do.  Also, we are required to pack up all of our stuff over the summer for our rooms to be emptied and thoroughly cleaned.  Most teachers just stuff their closets, but I like the labeled boxes.

I look forward to reading other peoples organizational posts for Blaugust.  I feel like I could still do better here :)


  1. Check with your school district to see if they have google apps for education. We have unlimited google drive storage because of that. Also, not sure if dropbox does this anymore, but when I first created an account with them I was able to get more storage if I had other teachers create accounts with dropbox, I think I have 56GB right now. Another resource is onedrive, you get 1TB of storage if the district has paid office 360 subscriptions. Hope this helps.

    1. Thanks for the tips Yelena. Do you know if Google will give the unlimited storage to a personal account? My only fear is that I change districts and would loose my documents.