Did you know that the second Monday in January is National Clean Off Your Desk Day? (It’s totally true — there’s a day for everything!) If you’re like most teachers, your classroom desk is in danger of being lost beneath a pile of paper. Worksheets, IEPs, sub plans, cafeteria menu calendars — it’s all there. Sure, people talk about how technology is going to create a paperless society, but America’s classrooms are still very much on board the paper train.
Even though you won’t be able to quit the paper habit anytime soon (sorry, trees!), you can keep it all organized. Check out these tips to take charge of your classroom paper problem.
Supply and Demand
Stacking paper supplies in a closet or cabinet makes it a pain to get to the thing you need — inevitably, the red paper for Valentines will be on the bottom of the stack, and things get messy when you try to get something in a hurry. Use an inexpensive mailbox rack to organize paper by color and type. You’ll easily be able to see when you’re running low on something, and kids can get what they’re looking for themselves, without digging through heavy piles of paper and leaving a messy cabinet behind.
If you haven’t embraced color coding in your classroom yet, it will change your life. Assign each subject a color, and have students keep their work in pocket folders that match. The real genius of this system happens on your desk, though. Arrange color-coded paper trays to collect homework, projects, quizzes and tests as students turn them in. This will make paper grading much easier for you because your students are already helping you stay organized by subject, and you’ll be able to figure out more quickly who is missing an assignment.
Is your desk is so covered with stacks of paper and folders that you barely have room to work? Create more space by using vertical storage. A pile of folders isn’t easy to sort and takes up a lot of space, but standing things upright in a magazine file box or two makes it a snap to find what you’re looking for. You can also use the walls around you to maximize storage space. Hang things like calendars and notices above your desk for easy reference, and consider adding a low wall shelf or two to hold extra supplies or paper trays to make more space on your desktop.
Paper isn’t going away any time soon, but you can keep it from taking over your classroom with a few simple tips and affordable supplies. Go ahead and make that New Year’s resolution happen!