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Getting Organized from the Get Go!

Organizing from the start is the key to a great year with this idea by Norma, a Kindergarten Teacher in El Paso, TX.

Here’s a low-tech but highly effective organizational system I have used in my many years of teaching. This idea is so fabulous; I wish I had it in place from my very day of teaching on.  To get and stay organized, I keep a large 3-ring binder on my desk at ALL times. Inside this binder, I store items such as:

• A master class list of student’s names (useful for many tracking purposes from homework to collecting field trip money)

• A map of the school plus a map of all the fire exits

• A daily and weekly class schedule

• A list of my colleagues’ e-mail contacts

• A list of students’ home e-mail addresses and phone numbers

• Student information sheets we collect at the beginning of each school year

• A list of emergency phone numbers

• A confidential list of health concerns (allergies, medications, etc.) from the school nurse

• A list of field trip contact names and numbers, plus a list of dates (as these are scheduled ahead of time)

• A list of important dates including Back to School Night, Parent-Teacher Conference dates, dates for standardized testing, etc. (I keep this master list of important dates in my computer and can easily update and print out a new list as the year progresses.)

• A master copy of forms I routinely send home such as a request form for classroom volunteers, a field trip permission slip, a Parent-Teacher conference sign up sheet, etc.

In addition, I include a plastic pocket page protector for each student In these pockets, I store correspondence to and from home, phone call documentation, copies of e-mails with parents, copies of report cards, annotations of progress and concern, summaries of conferences, copies of teacher observations, etc.

I also punch holes in manila envelopes and use these to collect money for class trips and book club orders.

I label dividers to separate each section of my organizer notebook.

I also use this folder to store a set of master activity pages that can be duplicated and used anytime in the school year in the event that I am absent for an extended period of time.

This binder system is really quite easy to set up and has saved me lots of time and energy through the years. I never find myself scrambling for information and rest assured that it helps my teaching assistant and substitute teachers as well.

For Really Good back-to-school products, see what Really Good Stuff has for you!

This article was part of the August 2010 Classroom Connection Newsletter. Check out the other articles from this edition:
Let Parents Know They Can’t Argue with Results
Here’s How to Start the Year with a Smile!
This Day One Activity Is Easy as Dough-Re-Mi!
First Day Jitters for Real
Rave Reviews for the Best Seat in the House
Getting Organized from the Get Go!
Fine Tune Transitions with a Bit of Music
Inch-by-Inch, School is a Cinch!
Focus on Picture Perfect Desks
Start Your Year Off on the Write Foot
Hunt No Farther for a Great Classroom Ice-Breaker
One Way to Devour Learning
Q & A: Managing Split Level Classes
Q & A: August


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13 comments
Astute Hoot
Astute Hoot

Awesome tips!  I'm going to share this with the new teachers I work with.

Beverly
Beverly

Thanks so much for repeating this entry. A nice, fat binder is the first thing I plan to buy for September.

Angie
Angie

I have a very similar binder, and I love it! Here is the list of items in mine.... lesson plans, student roster, emergency contact information for students, medical information, crisis drill steps/directions, sub back up plans & necessary information, staff meeting notes with extra paper, and my favorite --- a print off of each month of my Google Calendar. (When I find out about assemblies & other items that need to be added to my agenda, I don't have to keep each little piece of paper or email. I write it on the calendar and go on my merry way. Plus, all of my personal dates are already on there. Before I print, I enter the entire school year's schedule and all of my students' birthdays.) **I found a great idea on Pinterest last year & loved it so much. I use a cookbook stand to hold my binder up on my desk so I have more counter space. I will never go back!**

Michele
Michele

I have kept a few smaller binders with similar info the past couple of years, but I love your description of having it all in one place! With 26 students I am concerned about it fitting into one binder, but I am going to create a plan and see what I can do... thank you for sharing!

Anita
Anita

Thanks for sharing. I have a similar system, but reading about yours makes me think of what eleemosynary I need to add to my binder. I also use binders for striding units of study in. Makes it easier when using the unit and e drugging is in one place.

Cyndi
Cyndi

I used a 3 inch binder last year - I TRIED anyway - but wasn't successful because I didn't use it efficiently. When I saw your list of suggested items to keep in the binder I made note and organized my binder pretty much the same way. We've just finished the 2nd week of school but I already feel much less stressed about where to find some of these papers. Thanks for sharing!

Laura
Laura

I use a binder as well, but I keep my substitute activities elsewhere because of my class sizes. I loved your idea for the envelopes--I may use this to collect classroom work instead of hauling it in something separate. Thanks!

Sarah C
Sarah C

What an awesome idea! And such a simple idea at that! This is great! It would also be a good resource for a substitute who is in your class. She can use that binder to take roll, learn the schedule for the day, etc. Now I must take a trip to the office supply store!

Sharon M
Sharon M

It is my 3rd week of school and I really need to get more organized. Thanks for the tips.

Sarah
Sarah

These are some great ideas! I, too, keep a binder - but not so extensive. Would you please tell what size binder accommodates all of your 'files'?

Jessica
Jessica

Thank you for this idea! I am always "tweeking" my organization within the classroom. I really am excited to try this one out!

Paulette Pattengill
Paulette Pattengill

This information on organization is very helpful. I keep copies of everything on both my computer and my flash drive, but I'm really liking the idea of a binder. Must try this!

Barb J
Barb J

I LOVE this idea! I have something similar set up, but need to revamp it a bit this year to be even more effective!