1. Use multiple bins to collect work your students submit to you. This way, they’re already sorted and easier for you to grade! I use stackable paper trays to save space.
2. Place fabric pockets in the area where you teach from most. Then you can store commonly used papers, forms or reference materials for you to grab at a moments notice.
3. I don’t know about you, but sharpening pencils is the bane of my existence! Designate two containers for pencil storage (one of broken pencils that need sharpened and one for freshly sharpened pencils for kids to grab). I used to have one student be the pencil sharpener for the week.
4.Collect important writing samples or projects in a bin. Give each student a file folder and collect important paperwork throughout the year. Then “all” you have to do at parent teacher conferences is grab the bin and hand over the work samples to proud parents.
5. This next idea is PURE GENIUS! I learned this trick from my mentor teacher during student teaching (way back in the day). Designate a tote or box for a super secret purpose: a secret recycle bin! Students don’t work as hard when they know their teacher isn’t going to look at their paper. So use this bin to collect papers you don’t need to look at, but still want kids to work hard on. At the end of the day when all the students are gone, you can recycle the paperwork and keep your students’ desks clutter free! The picture above is from a lower grade classroom that doesn’t have any turn in bins. So this teacher just calls the secret bin the “turn in bin.”
6. Track your students’ reading progress with a laminated file folder. Divide it into sections using whatever lingo your district or state uses. The photo above uses benchmark, strategic, intensive to indicate at, slightly below and way below grade level. Use sharpie to designate areas of the folder according to words per minute, etc. Then give each student a sticky tab according to where they are at the beginning of the year. This allows you to see who’s made significant progress throughout the year. For example, this teacher used green to indicate at grade level, yellow for slightly below, and pink for way below grade level. She writes the words per minute (or whatever you’re tracking) on the sticky tab as you assess the students throughout the year. When you’re not using the folder, fold it up and keep it away from curious student eyes.