All teachers can relate. School has only recently resumed, and yet, your desk is buried under stacks of papers and miscellaneous school supplies. Post-it notes containing countless clerical to-dos are everywhere. Between the desk mess, a teeming inbox, and planning for upcoming lessons, it’s difficult to know what to tackle first.
There’s a reason why disorganization is an issue for most teachers; the profession is incredibly demanding. It requires one to make hundreds of decisions per day, all pertaining to the monumental task of educating children. Because of the urgency of students’ needs and lesson preparation, it’s easy for organizational maintenance to fall to the wayside.
Instead of adding more hours to your already-busy workweek, incorporate these simple tips to stay organized all year.
Make the most of every minute.
It’s certainly tempting to use your breaks linger in the teacher’s lounge, comparing the day’s tales with colleagues. But think of it this way: every unused moment is work time added to your evening. Time is valuable, and many daily tasks only require a few minutes each. So the next time you have a short break (or when your students are working independently), use the opportunity to enter grade book data, arrange instructional materials for the next class, or answer a quick email from a parent.
Get your students involved.
Smoothly run classrooms call for everyone to do their part. Kids love to help with daily duties, so use that enthusiasm to your advantage. Ask a student to pass out lesson materials while you get your Power Point into slideshow mode. Assign a few kids each week to take care of a designated area of the classroom; one can tidy bookshelves, the other can organize art supplies or keep staplers and tape stocked. If left only to the teacher, these tiny tasks can accrue. Delegate small jobs to students when applicable, and consider it a learning opportunity.
Utilize digital tools.
The technological world is brimming with resources designed for classroom use. In addition to enhancing student engagement, many of these tech tools can also aid in administrative duties. Google Drive allows teachers remote access to files, so they can keep documents in one place, but work on them anywhere. With the ability to submit assignments electronically, mysterious paper disappearances will be thing of the past. Google calendar is another beneficial tool. With it, important due dates and school events become always accessible to students and their families.
Maintain a clear workspace.
Because of the busy nature of a teacher’s day, it’s easy for your personal desk to become a “catch-all” location. Sifting through the day’s debris then becomes a daunting afternoon chore. To avoid wasting time merely muddling through the piles, create file shelves so that every unfinished project (such as incomplete grading) has its own place. Having designated locations, and taking the extra few seconds to maintain them, will result in a neat, clean area for when it’s time to get to work.
Teachers are professional jugglers with a wide range of daily responsibilities. With so much on the to-do list, organization is imperative. This year, implement these routines so that you can spend less time managing mess and more time inspiring intellect.