Sunday, July 12, 2015

Organization Advice?

Hey all!

I need some help and thought I'd reach out to the tribe to see what advice you can offer.

Since summer break started, I've been putting off organizing my school stuff. The school is moving this year, so it was a good opportunity to bring everything home and get it set up in a logical and easy to access way.


I am a procrastinator and get overwhelmed easily and I have no idea how to start this project. I have nearly reached the fetal position stage.

I started with the two easiest tasks and organized my supplies.

I finally got to put together the world famous teacher toolbox! Don't think I'm a weirdo for taking a picture of it backwards. Kittenface thinks pushing all the drawers out from the back is the MOST FUN GAME EVER!!!!! so I have to keep the front pressed to the wall. #kittyproblems

I also organized my task cards.

My before situation did. not. work.

Ziplocs, third graders, and task cards don't mix.

I got 13 section coupon organizers from Target on clearance! They were about $1.50 each.

I plan to make covers for each organizers and a label for the top so they're easy to pick out. So far, I have one organizer per domain (Operations & Algebraic and Geometry have separate organizers, for example) and in each little spot inside, I'll label specifically which standard the cards focus on. But. This is all I did for today.

I can't figure out to begin to get the rest of this stuff organized, though.

I also have two file cabinets in the garage, containing a majority of files that aren't mine, so I'm not even sure what they are. I returned to teaching last year after a 5 year break and took everything the previous teacher had.

I think my priority project is to switch from files to binders for documents. Other than that, I'm lost. I function best when there's a plan and I have a comprehensive list of things to do. Otherwise, I don't get started. It's all or nothing with me.

If you have any suggestions, please share them! Or if you happen to know an organizational powerhouse, please direct them to me.

**A huge shout out to Sheila at Sheila Jane Teaching and Megan at A New Box of Crayons for sharing on Periscope. I wouldn't have been motivated or inspired to blog if not for them. It's scary and lonely to be a little guy and they gave me just the push I needed.


  1. I can't even with my filing cabinet. I swear I'm ready to just toss it with the entire contents inside. You're doing great so far with your organizing. I get overwhelmed too and think I have to have everything done by the first day of school. But that's not the case! Just try to tackle one or two things a day... and then reward yourself! Lol
    Sharp in Second

    1. I started! I'm so proud of myself! :) I chose math first and got cute binder covers and spine labels from TPT. I made one for each domain and have the binders all set up. I also pulled all the math I have out of the file cabinets and put it in a pile to sort into domain and then standard. But for now...just a pile. It's a start, right?

  2. I feel ya here! am moving from first grade to a computer lab (taking over the tech position). I have had to downsize like crazy, and try to compact what I want to hang on to. I've switched classrooms 7 times now... yup, I've been in 7 classrooms! My biggest advice would be to get rid of anything you haven't used in the last year! I keep as many of my files as digital copies as possible so that I don't need to to haul the paper around :-)
    Best of luck! I'm sure your new classroom will look amazing and I am looking forward to following you and checking out future pictures!!

    Learning with Lizz R.

    1. Gotta admit I'm jealous of your tech position. I am constantly trying to talk colleagues into using all the great digital resources out there and it's just crickets. I think I'm too enthusiastic sometimes and I overwhelm people. Thanks for the advice! I did do a lot of recycling for stuff I know I wouldn't use or that didn't quite fit into CCSS and now I'm left with a semi-manageable pile to sort. I can't wait to get into the new classroom! I'll definitely post pics!

  3. Hi Dawn!
    I found you through the Little Fish linky party. I made a teacher toolbox last year and loved it. One of the 2nd graders from another class even commented on how organized I was when he came in to get staples for his teacher lol.

    I love your idea for task cards. I have the same problem where they're everywhere in Ziploc bags. I'm going to try to find the coupon books and organize it like you did.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Team J's Second Grade Fun

    1. Hi Jordan! I'm thinking the toolbox will also help with volunteers. It seems they're often looking for some tool to finish a project while I'm teaching. This will make life a lot easier for all of us.

      Regarding the task cards, I think I found something I like even more than the original system. I was at Staples and they have an adorable card file that has separate pockets and a handle to carry it around. I can't find a link to it, but I'll post about it soon if it seems to work better than this coupon folders. Some of them are just so full!

  4. Hi Dawn! I found your blog via the #littlefishteacherblogger linky party. I am excited to follow your adventures in third grade.

    I am very much a "put it all in the middle of the room" and tackle it item by item in a 5 second gut reaction. Meaning, in the first 5 seconds you pick an item up, if you know you will use it and have at least 1 idea of how keep it, otherwise donate to another teacher or toss it.

    As for the files vs. binder thing...that is a very personal dogs or cats. :) There are arguments for both methods. Which do you feel best about? Myself, I am a file girl...or at least I was before I became a 1:1 teacher. I have all of my files in color coded folders, with labels by the standard number and topic. I have 1 drawer for things that came with the reading program we no longer have to use with fidelity, 1 drawer for math things, 1 for ELA (not related to the Treasures program), and 1 for holidays, science, and social studies.

    Good luck with whichever method you choose (oh, and good luck going through all the things that were left behind for you - hopefully most of it will be useful).


    1. Hi Stacie! Thanks for visiting! I'm thrilled to be following along with your blog, as well. :)

      I've been VERY good about recycling things so far. Most of the resources don't apply right now since so much has changed with Common Core and Next Gen Science. I'm basically starting from scratch, which has been pretty exciting and daunting.

      I think I'm a binder girl. I'll see how binders work for me this year and maybe switch back if it doesn't quite work out.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

  5. Hello! I found your blog through the little fish linky. I teach 3rd grade, also! I love your ideas and I'm glad to connect and follow you!

    Sandy from Adventures of a Techy Teacher

    1. Hi Sandy! I'm loving this linky! I'm so happy to meet other 3rd grade teachers and I look forward to following your blog. :)

  6. Love the coupon holders for the task cards! I teach third too and I currently use zip locks... Might have to switch those out next week! I'm so happy to have found another third grade blogger! My blog, Journey Through Elementary, is a "co-blog" with a Kindergarten teacher. I found your page through the Hanging Around in Primary linky!
    Journey Through Elementary