One of the most important lessons I learned during my first year of teaching was how necessary it was to be incredibly organized if I didn’t want to spend 80 hours a week in my classroom. (Although let’s be real, I still could have spent that much time there if I’d wanted to!) The most time-consuming task for me that first year was lesson planning. I had to spend so much time hunting for papers in my desk or searching TeachersPayTeachers for the perfect activities. I have always loved lesson planning, but the time it required took out all the fun! So when I switched from 4th grade to 1st, I made a point to spend part of the summer organizing to make planning easier the next year.
When it comes to finding the perfect storage containers for organizing papers, it really depends on your own personality. Some people like to have everything in clear containers so that they can see exactly what’s in them. For me, however, I have to hide clutter or my anxiety is going to fly through the roof! For this reason, I LOVED using hanging files to store my worksheets and practice pages.
During the summer I didn’t have access to my classroom and filing cabinets, so to make it easier for me to prep at home I put all of my hanging files in crates and got to work. This made transferring all of my papers back to school SO much easier. Once I got there, all I had to do was take the hanging files out of their crates and stick them in their designated drawer!
Once you’ve figured out what kind of storage container best fits your needs, the next step is deciding what categories you want to use. As a Texas teacher, I preferred to file mine according to TEKS (our state standards). This was the most time-consuming part, but it was SO worth it and shaved off SO much of my planning time! Each file cabinet was labeled with its subject (I stuck with Math, ELAR, Science and Social Studies) and the files were labeled with their TEKS and a short description. From there, I went through all of my loose worksheets and placed them in their new home!
You can only imagine how much this helped me when it came time to lesson planning! After I reviewed which skills were to be taught the following week, I opened my trusty filing cabinets and had no problem finding the worksheets I wanted to use! Call me a nerd, but this brought back the fun I found in planning fun activities for my kiddos each week. I hope that these time-saving tips help you out as well!