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July 21, 2010

Taking Control of Your Desktop Organization

Written By: Brandi Jordan
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Taking Control of Your Desktop Organization - ReallyGoodTeachers.com

Taking Control of Your Desktop Organization

If you are like most teachers, piles of papers and stacks of notebooks waiting to be graded are prominent features on your desk’s surface. No matter how many times you clear the space off, or what your intentions are at the beginning of the year to keep the desk clean, it just does not seem to work out. So, how can you take control of your desk and make it a space that works for you, instead of a space that creates more work for you? Try some of the quick tips and tricks below to get you started.

Desktop Organization

A Place for Everything

One of the keys to organizing any space is to give each item a place of its own. This is important, because it creates order and organization immediately. Take that organization a bit further and label each spot with the name of the item that belongs there. For example, if you are using a desktop organizer, label each section to indicate where scissors, pens, pencils, markers, staples and paper clips go. When you are tempted to put the scissors on the desk surface, instead of back in their container, you may find that you have a harder time contributing to the creation of disorganization.

 

Paper Control

If there is one single item that contributes to the disorganization of a teacher’s desk, it most certainly would be paper. From worksheets to extra papers to notes home, the piles can be never ending. Once you get the upper hand on paperwork, you will find that your desk no longer looks like it has been buried in an avalanche of white papers. Instead of having students place papers on your desk, create a separate area, whether it be a pocket chart on the front of your desk, or paper stacking trays on the shelf behind, where students can place their work. Be sure to label where everything goes and let students know exactly what is expected of them when they turn papers in. If you prefer to check papers by child, as opposed to subject, assign each child a folder in a hanging file folder bin with his or her name on it, and have them file their finished work that way. If grading by subject is easier for you, create folders with the subjects and ask students to put finished work away there. Even if your students cannot read, you can use stickers or symbols to indicate subjects. Once papers have a home away from your desk, you will find that keeping the desktop clean is much easier.

Bye-Bye Desk

What’s the simplest way to control your desk clutter? Get rid of the desk. If the teachers’ desk in your room is large and taking up valuable floor and learning space, get rid of it. Instead, use a small group table to grade papers, hold conferences and talk individually with students. Good teachers know that their time is rarely spent sitting at their desks anyway, so why not clear out the clutter and remove it from the room. Use bookshelves to store binders, tabletop bins to organize papers and supplies, and store larger supplies in closets. You may find that not having a teacher’s desk is one of the most freeing experiences, as it opens up learning space and helps you take charge of desk clutter.

Cleaning your desk, and keeping it clean, is just as much a change of mindset as it is about behavior. Making the conscious effort to put things where they need to be takes effort. Choose to make your classroom a space that is comfortable for both you and your students. Taking the time to create a clutter-free space is a crucial step in that process.

Taking Control of Your Desktop Organization - ReallyGoodTeachers.com
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  • Paula
    August 13, 2013

    I use an egg carton to organize my earrings. I think I’ll try one in my desk to corral the paperclips, tacks, rubberbands, etc. that make a mess of my pencil drawer – where I’m always hunting for pencils!!

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  • Debbie
    September 3, 2012

    I have a cubby bookshelf where kids turn in their work so completed work never touches my desk. I also stay more organized putting papers into binders instead of file folders. When I make a copy I leave the binder open to the spot so when I come back to my room after making copies, the paper slips back into the binder and goes back on the shelf right away.

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  • Monica
    August 28, 2011

    I can’t wait to have a less-stressful year by keeping on top of my organization from these first few weeks of school. I saw a hanging file organizer in the catalog that looks like it might solve my paper piles problems (say that 5 times fast!).

    Not sure I’m ready to let the desk go…will have to think about it!

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  • Lori Archer
    August 21, 2011

    This gives my some food for thought. I like the idea of not having a teacher’s desk but I am not sure where I would put everything.

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  • Heather
    August 21, 2011

    I agree! Getting rid of the teacher’s desk does get rid of the piles. I wish my classroom had more room for storage so I could keep the piles under control. Thanks for the tips.

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  • Kris
    June 6, 2011

    I always clean my desk off before I leave school for the day, but at points during the school day it can get a little disorganized. But hopefully this year will be different! I just finished reading ‘The Cornerstone’ by Angela Powell. She had some great suggestions for keeping your desk clutter free. The best tip for me was that she had an organizer on her desk that had folders labeled for any type of papers she collected throughout the day and she would put them away immediately. I’ve wanted to do this but could never quite figure out just where to start, the best way to label, etc. But thanks to Angela and some other tips I’ve read, this year will be different!

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  • Sarah C
    March 20, 2011

    I think that keeping your desk under control is one of the most important things you can do in your classroom. You are the role model for your students and you need to set an example. If you have a messy desk, how can you expect your students to have a clean desk? The students will follow your example, so you need to do it correct from the beginning!

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  • Sharon M
    August 21, 2010

    I have been in school 2 weeks and my desk is already a mess. I started saying it was going to be organized and it has not stayed that way. I am getting better. I have trays for specific things but I have a tendency to put things on my desk and forget about them. I have gotten a tray to put my things in so that I look there for things 1st. I am going to be spending time after school next week getting it completely organized. Wish me luck.

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  • Christy
    July 25, 2010

    Organization is my goal every year! I did get rid of my desk a few years ago, but I still need help with organization. Thanks for the great ideas…I think I need to get a label maker for sure!!

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  • Jen
    July 23, 2010

    I’m just looking forward to actually having a desk this year!! I was a long term sub for the past two years, and never had a place to store my own things. The principals at my school told me to box up the regular teachers’ materials and make the desk my own, but I couldn’t bring myself to move someone else’s things. Instead, I used a three drawer organizer, a mug for my pencils, pens, and scissors, and had baskets for papers. Regardless of how much I tried to be organized, it was like a paper tornado blew across my desk each day. Thanks for the tips! I am hoping the added draw space, and some organizers from RGS will help out this year!!

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  • Cheryl
    July 23, 2010

    Great ideas. Hopefully I can follow them this year!

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  • Cara F
    July 23, 2010

    I also have a teacher desk and small computer desk. I never sit at my desk when I’m with students. I use tables and work with students there. However, I use my teacher desk to keep my lessons/materials/IEPs/etc/etc organized and ready for the day. My desk is also a kid free zone so it is a safe place to leave materials, confiscated materials, etc. etc. I have file folders for each day of the week–when I make copies, gather material I put it in th corresponding file for when I will need it. I put the folders in a verticle file box so each day has about 3 or 4 inches to put materials in. Makes it easy for a sub to find needed materials if they have to come in at the last minute.

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  • Denise
    July 22, 2010

    My desk starts off the day clean, but by the end of the day it’s typically pretty cluttered. Before I allow myself to go home, though, I clean it again. I CANNOT start the day with a cluttered desk! I just can’t do it. To help keep it clean, I use a hanging file pocket chart in which students turn in papers, each pocket has a labeled folder. I also have folders labeled “Graded Science Papers”, “Graded Math Papers”, etc. It helps me keep graded and non-graded papers separated. I’m hoping to work on keeping it less cluttered during the day, though!

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  • Shanda J
    July 22, 2010

    I’ve been thinking about getting rid of my desk all together as well. I want to “map out” my room to see if it would work before I make commitments. My computer is on my desk and also supports my Promethean Board so those are issues to be considered.

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  • Jeannette Erickson
    July 21, 2010

    guilty guilty guilty! I love the look of a very tidy desk, and I make a resolution every year, but it’s the first thing to get out of control when the heat is on. It’s not just kid’s papers, it’s the notices from HR, the staff Tee Shirt order form, faculty club notice etc. Thanks for the suggestions. The great thing about teaching is that I get to reinvent myself every year!

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  • Lisa
    July 21, 2010

    I get better each year with organization. We are not allowed to get rid of our teacher desk at our school because it was funded by the PTA one year. I enjoyed learning some tips from Debbie Diller’s book Spaces and Places. You can use them as another student work area. Definitely check out the book and make this the year to get organized. I hope to be even better at it this year. Cross your fingers for me.

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  • Leslie
    July 21, 2010

    At the end of every Friday, everyone in the class (myself included) clean thier space. I clean my desk and reading group area and the kids clean their cubbies, browsing boxes and chair pockets. It takes only a few minutes (since we do it every week) and it helps in letting the kids know that our room is a community and we all take part in keeping it nice.

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  • L Green
    July 21, 2010

    My desk is always piled high with papers. I like the idea of labeling spaces for everything.

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  • Emily
    July 21, 2010

    I left a note on my desk to “please remove” over the summer. We’ll see how I handle it. I’m a stacker.

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  • Jennifer
    July 21, 2010

    My desk is infamous for being a mess, I also have my goal for the year to be more organized. The year always begins with good intentions, maybe with some of these ideas I might stay on track this year!!

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  • Cindy Berenter
    July 21, 2010

    It’s funny, because I not only have NOT gotten rid of my teacher desk, I got a 2nd one! The 2nd one is smaller (like a college student desk) and sits behind mine. I just turn my chair around to work at that one, where my laptop and printer (from home) are kept.

    I really appreciate the suggestions in the article because I do try to keep my desk neat but the constant deluge of papers, etc. makes that difficult. Great suggestions provided here-thanks!

    Oh, and I’m saving up for one of the “Store More Binder Nooks”-the curved shelves are ideal for my purposes and would save a lot of space. A coworker of mine used some “capital” money from our district and bought one. It was mounted to her wall and then she moved out of the school! I was disappointed it wasn’t ME moving into her room!

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  • Jennifer Gremillion
    July 21, 2010

    I love reading about organization. Like many others, I also ditched my desk last year. I use a homey antique table in a corner for conferences, small groups and grading. Additionally, I chose to forego student desks in favor of tables. It really streamlines the clutter. Now, even the students can’t leave stray papers hanging around our room. I like the Store More Binder Nook, haven’t seen it before. My new quest is to set up a functional writing station for students. I would be very interested in reading an article about how to organize one! (www.jengremillion.blogspot.com)

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  • Barb J
    July 21, 2010

    I absolutely hate a cluttered desk! I have always tried to keep things in specific places, as mentioned here. I keep plastic storage bins on the counter near my desk, and all work is turned in there. It keeps all papers in a clearly defined space, so they are not spilling everywhere. Then I have another bin for papers which I have corrected, but not entered scores, and a third bin of papers that can be passed back to students. It definitely reduces the clutter on my desk, and keeps me more focused and less concerned with how my desk looks!

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  • Cheryl s
    July 21, 2010

    I have been thinking about getting rid of my desk because it is always a mess and I never sit at it! This article gave me the courage to do that! I will get something to store notes and other things and just use my small group table for meeting and grading papers!

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  • Alison Kitchin
    July 21, 2010

    Id love to get rid of my desk, but it holds my computer and everything. I tried to go to a smaller desk, but it didnt work, so now I even have two desks!!! It is kind of working for me, but kind of not. Im changing things around this year so we’ll see! We have TINY rooms with built in storage that makes absolutely no sense! Id love to be in one of those schools that was built with teacher input!

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  • janine
    July 21, 2010

    Thanks. My desk is always a mess and I start each school year trying to keep it clean and organized. I love the binder nook idea. It would be a great place for the manuals and folders. I will keep my desk clean this school year!

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  • Penny
    July 21, 2010

    My desk is always a mess! Need to put some of these suggestions into action. I’ve had an classroom asst. who was my “desk fairy” and won’t have her to straighten up this year.

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  • Elizabeth Winters
    July 21, 2010

    I got organized as far as the inside of my desk last summer by recycling small Gerber babyfood containers (the square plastic ones). I put paper clips in one, staples in another, erasers, elastics etc. They fit perfectly in the drawer and have covers. I rarely work at my desk so I just grab the container I need and take it with me. The rest of my desk is hanging file folders. I would love to get rid of my desk but I haven’t got that much courage yet. I think it’s funny how attached we get to a piece of furniture. Even if we don’t use it often. I guess it’s daunting thinking about where I would put all the things in it. Also it’s the one place in my room that is off limits to my kids.

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  • Jessica Berggren
    July 21, 2010

    This is one of the most helpful articles so far. Last year I invested in label maker. I started by labeling cabinets, but never finished. I love the idea of labeling areas on my desk. I am going to finish what I started (hopefully) Here’s looking to an organized school year. 🙂

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  • Yvonne Richard
    July 21, 2010

    I am motivated to try to keep the desk clear, but it never seems to work. I will keep trying and try some of these tips this year.

    Wish me luck!

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