Does this picture look all too familiar?
What does your desk look like by the end of the day? Do you start out clean and tidy, but by the time school lets out, can't seem to locate even a pencil due to the mountains of paper, manipulatives, and notes from the office? I'll be the first to admit that my desk can become the catchall, like my kitchen counters at home. My goal this year has been to keep my desk and teacher workspace neatly organized. I'm a big fan of organizational tools, but they only work if you actually use them.
To help motivate me this year, I redecorated my desk and workspace with a few new items to help keep everything in its place. I purchased a few new containers to hold my pens, paper clips, and scissors. I also found some fancy file folders to use for important files that I need to keep at my fingertips, such as IEPs.
My Daily Plans box received a makeover with a cute sign, colorful hanging file folders, and new labels. This box contains the actual copies I have made on a given day. Having it on my desk makes it easy to find, even for a substitute. Everything I need for each day of the week is in a separate, labeled folder.
Behind my desk I have a bookshelf and an old mail sorter. The bookshelf holds all of my curriculum teachers' manuals and my resource file binders. I have moved away from storing my blackline masters in file folders inside a file cabinet. I now keep the majority of my files in binders. The binders make it easy to find just what I'm looking for when I'm lesson planning. As I plan, I sticky-note tab the pages I need to copy, take the binders with me to the copy room, and return them to the shelf when finished. I no longer have to refile my blackline masters after planning and copying.
As for the old mail sorter, it is big and bulky, but it really helps to keep me organized. I like to plan ahead. This means I am often making copies in November that I won't be using until December or January. The mail sorter allows me to sort and separate my copies. I am able to plan my centers weeks in advance. Once I have everything I need for a particular week, it can be placed in an empty slot until it is needed. On the top, I have containers that house my math and literacy stations along with other curriculum manuals that I need to have quick access to frequently.
Above my sorter is my teacher bulletin board. This is where I pin those important notes that I don't want to lose. Often I need to refer to these notes. Having them in my plan book would mean out of sight, out of mind. Do you see the small dry erase board on top of the sorter? I use this to jot down meetings I may have and the times my students have speech, or other special services.
Having a functional teacher workspace that includes everything I need, from my curriculum guides to my teaching files, makes planning easy. Everything I need is within arm's reach.
Having all of these great organizational items is wonderful; however, unless you use them for what they are intended for, your desk has the potential to look like the one at the beginning of this article.