January 9, 2014

New Year's Goal #2: Leave a clean desk each night

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at eight small changes we can make today in our classroom that will make this new year the best one yet! 

Leave your desk clean when you leave each afternoon. Now, I know some of you are looking at your desk right now and thinking "I'm not even sure what the surface of my desk looks like under all those piles!" Don't worry, there is hope! Make it your goal this week to clear through one pile every day. 

Here are some tips to help you tackle all those papers on the top of your desk:

1. Make file folders for each unit or standard that you teach. As you find resources for upcoming units, just tuck them in the correct folder and it will be there when you start your planning. As you finish up current units, you can quickly place extra worksheets and original copies in that unit's folder. A few less pieces of paper that would've lived on your desk for a few months.

2. Put as much as you can on your computer. Get rid of all those multiple calendars, lists, and post-it notes. Instead, create a 'notes' document or a 'to-do list' document and save it to your computer's desktop. Just keep it open throughout the day for quick reference or to add something fast. You can even put all your lesson plans and grade books online. Afraid of losing your info? Just use put a Dropbox folder on your desktop and save everything there. Dropbox (which is free for a small account) will back everything up on their servers for you. This is great for two reasons: (1) If your computer crashes, you can just go online on any computer and access your completely unharmed documents and (2) You can access the documents from any computer that has an internet connection by just putting in your username and password. The bonus of this is that you can work on your files from home without having to lug a USB back and forth.

3. Use a "Just For Now Box": We don't always have time to sort papers and file them away. For those moments, grab a small basket or box- I used the top of the copy paper box- and use this as your 'catch-all box' for papers that you don't currently need, but that need to be saved until the end of the year. Some examples of this might be student notes, left-over copies of worksheets, memos you might want to refer to later, etc. The goal here is to simply get the stuff off your desk and in a place where they can be located easily later. This is a quick fix and every few weeks, you will want to sort and file the stack to keep it under control.

4. Create a file folder for each student in your room. Keep them in the front of your file cabinet and put any parent notes, 504/IEP info, medical info, disciplinary records, etc. This makes putting away all those random notes you receive in the morning super simple. These folders are also great for those last minute meetings with administrators or parents. Just grab and go- you've got all the info you need! 

5. If possible, create a small 2nd work area behind your desk. Place an extra student desk or bookshelf in the area behind or next to your desk. Use this to place your piles, trays, or baskets of work. It won't solve the clutter problem, but it will at least give you a place to put the clutter that still lets you have a workable desk space. As organized as we all strive to be, there are going to be times when you just need to put a pile of stuff somewhere...and this 2nd station is a much better place for that temporary pile than the middle of your desk :) 


Okay, now that the desk is clean, let's get back to our goal: Leave it clean every afternoon. Make a commitment this week to spend 3 minutes at the end of your day sorting, cleaning, and filing those few stray papers. Now when your principal pops in for that unexpected observation, your desk will scream "I am an organized, totally-in-control-of-this-room, Super Teacher!" Now, if we could only get the kids to behave like perfect angels as well.... ;)

How would a clean desk impact your day?
Join us next week for the next New Year's Goal! Don't want to miss out on the fun? Subscribe to my blog  or enter your email in the sidebar to receive updates.

Here are the goals we've done in this series:

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