So my question for you is this: What is your paper management style? How do you stay on top of it? What is your favorite organization strategy?
Here are some tips I use. You may also find them useful:
- Have students write their class numbers on their papers (especially if you use a paper sorting "mailbox" like I do!)
- Grade every day. I know this is a toughie. But even if I skip one day-- the papers will pile up and I will most likely continue to ignore them until it's out of control!
- Go through papers as a class. Not ideal-- but sometimes we go through our papers and check our work-- then I walk around and glance over shoulders at scores. You can also "trade and grade"-- but don't do this all the time or parents might get upset. If we go over it as a class then that's less work for me at the end of the day.
- Give less worksheets. Shocking, right? But there are many other ways to assess students. Search Pinterest for "formative assessment ideas". Or try here or here for some better ideas!
- Invest in a 3-drawer paper tray. There are FREE labels on TPT for "grade", "copy", and "file" drawer labels! All you have to do is print, laminate, and tape/glue!
- Invest in a quality "mailbox" for student work. And I'm not just talking about the cardboard mailboxes you get at the teacher store (You know the ones I'm talking about-- I know you do!) Not only do the ones from the teacher store cost a lot-- they are CARDBOARD. Don't get me wrong-- if you like to spend your hard earned money on cardboard, that's fine. But if you want it last more than 3 years-- consider upgrading.
I did a little research and found this "Storex" paper sorter-- made of plastic-- on Amazon. The reviews were mostly by teachers-- and they were amazing! So I made a splurge and bought one! It arrived a few days later-- and I easily snapped the pieces together. I highly reccommend it. I think it's going to last much longer than the cardboard one.
Here is how I use my mailbox (very simple):
- Each student is assigned a class number at the beginning of the year. Usually based on ABC order by last name.
- At first students write their numbers on their papers to help me sort. As the year goes on I can memorize numbers.
- I train 2-3 students who love to help (everyone has those kids!) and they memorize all the class numbers. After about a month of school I never have to put papers away myself! The students LOVE doing this-- and it's even become a class job!
- If it's a paper I want to keep secret (test scores, etc) I will put them in myself. Or hand them directly to the student and have him/her put the paper away in the mailbox.