Saturday, August 4, 2012

Paper Flow

Before I begin this post I must offer a disclaimer that I am crazy when it comes to organization.  Since all of my stuff is not currently in my classroom I haven't been able to share too much of how crazy I really am, but trust me..I'll get there.

Dealing with paper is something that all teachers deal with.  We copy, collect, grade and hand back work on a daily basis.  And we're supposed to deal with all of this paperwork in addition to lesson planning and teaching all day.

I have a tendency to pile stuff and have things all over the place.  To combat this, I ensure that every single thing has a place where it belongs.  And when I say every single thing, I really mean every single little random item I own.  When things are organized it makes me a happier and calmer person.

The biggest thing that I deal on a daily basis is papers.  I make copies, hand stuff out, collect some of it, deal with extra copies, grade stuff, hand it back ... and somehow I'm supposed to keep track of all this paper movement and not go crazy?!

When I was a shiny brand new teacher I thought I would get two trays.  One would be my inbox and one would be my outbox.  I thought it sounded like a great system.  Yeah right.  Over the years I have added to my system piece by piece until it evolved into the grand scheme that it is today.

I love my system for papers because I can honestly say that I know where EVERY single paper is at all times, and based on where it is I know where it needs to go next.

So let's start in the morning.  I make copies.

The original goes in here until I put it back where it came from.  Each class I teach has it's own folder and there is an "etc." folder as well.
This one isn't mine (it's from here) but I made one like it.

The rest of the copies go in stacking shelves so they are ready to hand out for the day.  Each class that I teach has its own stack of shelves up in the front.

At the end of the day, any extra copies go in my missed work folders.  They stay there for two weeks and then get recycled.

Now if kids are keeping the papers then the paper stops there with the kid.  If they are handing something in to be graded, however, I have a three part process for what happens next.  I need more organization than an inbox/outbox setup.

  1. Kids hand in their papers to the purple/green trays.  At the end of each period, their work gets paperclipped and moved to the next step.
  2. All of that class' work gets moved to their tray.  Here we have another set of the Target stacking trays that I love.  I have one tray for each period.  Papers stay there until I grade and record them in the gradebook.
  3. After they are graded, papers get moved to another set of trays.  Any work here means that it has been graded, recorded in the gradebook and is ready to hand back.


It took me awhile to fine tune this whole process and come up with something that was perfect for me.  I absolutely love it and love knowing exactly where every single paper is.  I think about how terrible I would feel if I ever lost a paper so I want to make sure that never happens.  

Now, remember that I already warned you that I'm a little crazy...
Well here's a handy flowchart that shows how all the paper moves around my room.


I share this not to make you think I'm nuts, but in the hopes that maybe I can save someone the years it took for me to establish this all myself.  Enjoy :)

15 comments:

  1. Sarah, I can't begin to describe what a blessing you're blog has been! You're a huge inspiration as I'm getting ready for my second year of teaching! Keep it up. :)

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    1. Thanks! I'm so glad to be able to help :)

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  2. I can't even say how much I love the fact that you made a flow chart!

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    1. Haha thanks..I think my brain works in flow charts

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  3. Sarah, I am starting to think that you and I share a brain! This is the second time you have posted something while I was working on a similar post! Great minds think alike, right? My paper flow is a bit different, so maybe I will go ahead and publish. I like your blog. Keep it up, I am looking forward to reading on!

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    1. That's too funny :) please do post, I love new ideas about things like that...I'd love to see how you do things

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing this!! I am so glad I found your blog, you seem to think just like me and I am so grateful to be able to learn from you. I am transitioning to having my own classroom next year (from being in four different rooms, last year) and feeling overwhelmed at setting up my own systems!!

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    1. Good luck! I would suggest just focusing on one at a time. I never would have figured any of this out either without actually being in the room teaching as the years went on and figuring out what I needed and how I worked. It definitely takes time, but I hope I can help :)

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  5. This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  6. Ok...yes you are crazy...but crazy good.

    I really need to do every single thing you did here but to simplify it a little bit. Since I won't be able to "evolve" into a complex system like this, I need to learn from what you have here and modify.

    Hmmmm. Maybe I need to start with the flow chart.

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    1. Hahaha thanks!! I think I may have made it seem a little more elaborate than it is. All you need is about 20 of those cheap stacking trays and you're good to go. Good luck..I'd love to hear what you come up. I'm always in search of well running systems...especially ones with flow charts!!

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  7. Still trying to figure out the flow of my classroom - your ideas are helping me! thanks for sharing!

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  8. Sarah, I just found you!!! I have been teaching for 22 years and I still REALLY struggle with organization. Your work flow ideas are EXACTLY what I need. Thank you very much. (I found you through Pinterest.)

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  9. Sarah, I just found you!!! I have been teaching for 22 years and I still REALLY struggle with organization. Your work flow ideas are EXACTLY what I need. Thank you very much. (I found you through Pinterest.)

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