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.

How to prepare in advance for the paperwork headed your way

Set up a system to file school paperwork that you don’t need now but can’t afford to lose.

This is for things like inventory lists for textbooks, that are important but not urgent, and that you won’t really need to look at again until the end of the year. 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.

Set up a place to put things you may never use. . . but then again, you might.

My favorite systems for this are the “ideas for later” box and the computerized version of the “ideas for later” box. These are incredibly underrated teaching tools.

Set up a schedule to make sure you’re getting grades into your grade book.

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 that you’re just hoping you’ll find time to get to.

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.

If you find yourself really stuck, you can get confidential guidance directly from me in a one-on-one session of See Me After Class Office Hours.

Office Hours are confidential Zoom or phone sessions tailored to any teaching-related topic you want to talk about. It’s a chance to receive individualized feedback from someone who has spent nearly two decades cutting through cliches to offer honesty, nuance, and practical advice.

You would not be the first to talk about handling paperwork in one of these sessions, and you won’t be the last.

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