HOW TO ORGANIZE PAPERS to READ, FILE, and SORT (Paper Organization Series)

This post is part of my 20 day "Organizing and Managing Paper in the Classroom" Series. Today I am going to share tips and ideas for storing and organizing the incoming papers that require action on your part.

These are the most challenging pieces of paper. They are the ones that come at you and require you do something. However, they can also be the most important papers and therefore it is extremely important that you establish a procedure for handling them.

My first suggestion is to stop as many of them from coming into the classroom as possible. If you have a recycling bin near your teacher mailbox I suggest sorting your mail before leaving the area. Recycle anything you don’t need so it doesn’t end up in your classroom needed sorting later.

Next, get yourself an inbox to temporarily hold all of these papers that come at you. A basket, bin, folder or box is a perfect until you can give them the proper attention. You want to avoid walking into your room and dropping them on your desk. 

I use the accordion folder shown above. I love this system because it makes my action papers portable. I can take the folder to the copier to go through while the machine is printing or easily slip it into my bag.

Establish set times to address these papers. Begin by designating a time to sort through  the papers in your inbox and divide them into the following categories: read, file, respond. Then structure a specific time during the day to address the individual categories. I find that sorting at lunch time and addressing them just after dismissal works well.

Finally create an “outbox” for the forms you’ve filled out and papers you need to pass along to someone else. A file tote that fits in your school bag may be a good option for you. This will allow you to drop off completed papers on your way out of school in the afternoon or when you come in the next morning.

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