Welcome to my office. 🙂 I’ll share some images and a little candid commentary. At the end I reveal my dark secret about organization.
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.
- I made smaller piles with labels. Then I put the smaller piles in boxes or file folders (keeping the labels on the outside!).
- I continued to do this in small chunks of time over a summer.
- Once everything had been sorted (and lots had been tossed), I began to go through the smaller piles.
- I sorted them again and labeled the new piles.
- Then I began to organize in a system that seemed best: binder + tabs; file folder; basket.
- Every single piece of paper found a home. (Many of them found a home in the recycling bin!)
- I labeled the outside of the binder, file folder, or basket.
- 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?
Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.