Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How I Stay Organized- A Peek at My Organizational Binders

I love to be organized!! I think that without organization, there’s no way I’d be able to teach. 

Some people keep everything on their computers- and while I do keep all of my files on my computer- I also like to have a hard copy of things as well- I think this stems from my deep mistrust of computers.  I always think back to Skynet and the Terminator movies ;)

But in all seriousness, I do love to keep a hard copy- this way I don’t have to be logged in to my computer to access all of my data.  And until our school systems and teachers are all doing everything online, there will be hard copies of things you will have to keep track of. 

I do love to create my own binder covers and make them fun- I’m going to have to look at them daily for the next 9 months, so I need them to make me happy!  I created several binder covers (and the matching spine labels- you can’t have a cover without a matching spine label!) that have helped me IMMENSELY throughout the last few years, and now I want to share with you how I organize my teaching life.

Binder #1- The Teacher Organization Binder

I could not live my day-to-day life without this binder.  I literally use it every day!  The sections in this binder are:

To Do Lists- A page for my sticky-notes of my to-dos
Info Lists- Class Lists, Photo Release Lists, Approved Parent Volunteer Lists, etc.
Calendar- A copy of the school calendar- where I write all important dates and meetings down.
Year Long Plans- A copy of our district’s year long plans, broken down by quarter.
Common Core Checklist- A list of all of the year’s Common Core objectives.
IEP Info- A quick reference list of my IEP student’s modifications and needs.
Lesson Plans- A copy of each week’s lesson plans. (I have these templates in my TPT store!)
Meeting Notes- A place to put any notes from school or parent meeting notes- I always know where my notes are- it has come in handy more than a few times!
PLT Meeting Notes- A place to keep notes and records of PLT meetings.
Student Info- I keep a list of my student’s parent contact info here and any allergy info as well.
Lent & Borrowed Items List- A place to keep track of who you’ve lent things to- and who you borrowed stuff from… trust me, you’ll forget if you don’t write it down!

Binder #2- The Gradebook

Now I know many of you, like myself have an online gradebook that you use for all of your grading during the quarter.  However, as wonderful as online gradebooks are, there is always the risk that the data you inputted may not be there later. 

Each quarter, I print my final gradebook so that I have a printed record of each student’s grades throughout the quarter, and this also makes it so much easier when speaking with a parent in a conference to be able to show them their child’s grades in print. 

I also keep track of homework and morning work in a separate section of my gradebook.

Binder #3- Parent Contact Log

This binder is essential.  I have a page for each student in this binder (pictured above) with their name at the top.  Any time I have to contact their parent (with the exception of email), I make a quick note of the date and time I spoke with them or sent them a letter or a discipline referral.  I also write down if they’ve contacted me with a note or a phone call, and will insert the note in the binder behind that child’s paper. 

This helps out so much if you need to go back and check your records if a parent has a concern.  I do not keep track of emails sent and received from parents, because I send and receive about 20-30 parent emails each day.  And I save every email I send and receive so that I have a record of those.  There is no need to write these down, in my opinion.

Binder #4- Reading Assessment Binder

I am mainly a reading teacher, so I like to keep good records on my students.  Here are the tabs in my Reading Binder:
Assessment Info- Benchmark testing data (ie: mClass scores, DRA scores, etc)
Reading Levels- A list of the reading levels of the students in my classroom.
Meeting and Conference Planning- a monthly calendar where I write which students I will be meeting with on what days.
Conference Ideas- Ideas for individual meetings with students and what they need to work on.
Book Clubs- a place to keep the meeting checklists and work from student book clubs I’ve met with each week.
Student Data- any other info or data on my students that I feel is important.
Anecdotal Notes and Labels- a place to keep address labels so that I can jot down something quickly about the student and put it on their conference sheet.

Binder #5-  Notes for my Teacher

I love when my students are thoughtful enough to take the time to write me a note or draw me a picture.  But if you’re like me, once you put one drawing up, 10 more students have drawn you something to put up as well.  As sweet as this is, after awhile, your wall is littered with drawings.  When do you take them down? Do you throw them away after you have? 

I saw this idea and I put it into place last year- and I LOVE IT!!  I made a “Notes for My Teacher” binder, and put clear plastic protector sheets in it.  Any time a student draws me a picture or writes me a note, I make a big deal about it, thank them for it and tell them I am putting it in my special notes binder.  I do it in front of them so that they know I am keeping it.  It still makes them feel special, and you do not have a wall of drawings falling off every day.

Also, at the end of the year, you can go through and clean out that binder and use it again next year.  If a student spent a lot of time on something or you have something sentimental in the binder you can keep it instead of wondering where it went. 

I hope this peek into my organizational binders has helped!  I urge you to create your own binders (or revamp the ones you currently have) to help keep yourself organized. 

I have all of the above mentioned binder covers will be for sale soon in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store individually and I am selling them as a pack together (for a discounted price).  Visit my store if you’d like to see these guys!

Have a great day,

Ashley J