New Teacher Organization 101: Planning for Paperwork

You know your students will turn in plenty of papers once the year starts. What you may not realize is you’ll also get lots of paperwork from your school early in the year—including some things you may not need to look at until May. Luckily, there are a few ways to plan ahead for the paper headed your way. Set up a system to file school paperwork that you don’t need now but can’t afford to lose. (Things like inventory lists for textbooks.) Otherwise, these can quickly turn into a Jenga-like tower on your desk that covers more urgent work. A detailed filing system is described in the Piles and Files chapter of See Me After Class, but you can start off on the right foot by having a clean file box and hanging folders ready to go inside it.

You’ll also want an “ideas for later” box, which is one of the most underrated organization tools for teachers.

Then, when the school year begins, get ready to turn your attention to grading students’ work. Try to get at least two grades per student, per subject into your grade book the first week—every week after that. Your first set of grades won’t be due for about two months, but that date can still sneak up on you if you have a traffic jam of ungraded papers and an empty grade book.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with grading a few weeks into the school year, you may be able to ask a trusted mentor for some tips. There’s also a chapter called Grading Work Without Hating Work in See Me After Class.

Finally, if you find yourself really stuck, you can get confidential guidance directly from me in a one-on-one session of Office Hours. You would not be the first to talk about handling paperwork in one of these sessions, and you won’t be the last.

Sign up for the Sanity-Saving School Year Starter Kit

Three days of (totally free) emails to help teachers cut through the overwhelm and prepare for the first day of class.