Office Tour

Welcome to my office. 🙂 I’ll share some images and a little candid commentary. At the end I reveal my dark secret about organization.

Welcome! It's true -- I have a little hole-in-the-wall office, with no windows. Over the years, I've tried to make it represent me. I've somewhat succeeded.

It's a small office, so I try to use every nook & cranny. This is a place for visitors or (more likely) a place to collect stuff that I drop off when I'm picking up other resources to head to another school. However, I'm proficient about putting everything away so it is empty in case someone needs to meet.

I've found that having resources where I see them allows me to be more effective. It's a good thing, since this is the ONLY storage space I have in my office. I know this is tough to see, so click on the photo for a close up.

How I keep track of the books I've read.

Resources I've collected. Yeah, I'd love for all the binders to be black . . . but these are the ones I was able to scrounge up from my college days and left overs around school. The important thing is that each is clearly identified. (By the way, don't you love that orange rug, Stacey?)

More binder storage.

Genre Resources: In a basket under the chair, I store all my books specific to a genre.

Another Stack of Books: These are ones for book studies I've participated in the year; as well as some of my go-to adolescent resources.

File Cabinets: Does anyone else sometimes look at their filing cabinets and wonder, "Do I really need everything that is in there?" Over the past several years I've been more intentional about storing things digitally, which means many of my files are an after-thought when planning. Not only that, but I've busted many of my units of study out of the filing cabinet and into the file box (see below).

My system for organizing Units of Study resources.

Computer Area
Computer Area

I’ve used this so much the letters are worn off of my keyboard! The locker cubbies are used to store important documents like staff rosters, phone extensions, and the literacy framework.


One of the many quotes I have around my computer. Even after Stacey & collected more than 180 quotes for our book, I still love ’em.


It’s easier to write little notes of encouragement when the notecards are at my fingertips. I also keep a pack of markers in this basket for making charts.

“Holding Area”

Because I am not 100% Type A Personality, there is this area, behind my door that serves as a “holding tank” for things that need filed. See that lovely stack? Yeah, that’s all of my high school curriculum work. See my good intentions? There are binders and tabbies and everything all ready for when I have time to organize.  Considering almost all of this is filed electronically on my computer, it is not a big priority for me. The thing I need to do is scan the student work. I’m not so good at that. Oh well, it gives me a goal.

I know some of you out there are uber-organized and others are just beginning. I’m speaking to the later group now. 🙂 I want you to know this has been a journey for me. An eleven year journey. The first few years I was in a classroom, I organized things more like archeology. When wanting to locate something, I considered when I last saw it. If it was at the beginning of the year, I knew it was near the bottom of the pile. December was mid-pile; April near the top. Finding a document resembled an archeological dig. (Think of that last photo only throughout an entire classroom.)

By year three, I was a little wiser and had this epiphany: I didn’t need to keep everything that came across my desk. I could, in fact, THROW THINGS AWAY. This was also the year I resolved to never leave without first clearing my desk. A clear desk makes a big difference. I learned it’s easier to clear a desk every afternoon; as opposed to only 1-2 times a year when a substitute teacher is coming.

If you are in the midst of an archeological dig site, I understand. I’ve been there. Here’s how I unearthed the gems.

  1. I made smaller piles with labels. Then I put the smaller piles in boxes or file folders (keeping the labels on the outside!).
  2. I continued to do this in small chunks of time over a summer.
  3. Once everything had been sorted (and lots had been tossed), I began to go through the smaller piles.
  4. I sorted them again and labeled the new piles.
  5. Then I began to organize in a system that seemed best: binder + tabs; file folder; basket.
  6. Every single piece of paper found a home. (Many of them found a home in the recycling bin!)
  7. I labeled the outside of the binder, file folder, or basket.
  8. When I went to find something, I paid attention to the first place I looked. If it wasn’t there, once I found it, I moved it to that spot.

Nothing is more stressful than not being able to find the things you need. Taking the time to organize your piles is one of the very best things you can do. The system will evolve to fit your needs. This is both frustrating (because you’ll have to re-organize periodically) and liberating (because eventually you’ll be able to find what you need when you need it). Stick with it and know there is hope — I’m living proof that you can survive an archeological dig zone!

Today, I’m a believer that I am only as effective as I am organized. Being proficient is about being organized. Effective Writing Workshop teachers are organized teachers. What’s your best system for organizing the massive resources we can collect as Writing Workshop teachers?