Picture a stack of papers stuffed randomly into a storage closet. By yearend, they’ve morphed into an entire mountain range. That would describe how I organized my first year teaching materials.
I was happy just to be keeping my head above water that first year. Finding those materials for next year’s lessons was next year’s problem.
And then, next year arrived.
At least I knew that my beginning of the year activities were on the bottom of the mountain. So I did have that going for me.
But everyone expects teachers to be organized. We’re supposed to lay our hands on any piece of paper at a moment’s notice.
I absolutely needed an organization intervention.
I found files in a drawer to be the same black hole that trappers become for students.
And while I did have most of my materials saved on my school drive, that too was an organizational black hole for those first few years. Plus, I needed to access materials when our less than reliable network was down.
And I can’t even describe the sheer panic in my 10th year of teaching when my external hard drive sort of died with my ENTIRE teaching life on it. Thanks to my local computer rescue, there was a happy and expensive ending!
Enter my teacher organization binder system.
It marries my love of school supplies to my need for quickly finding any document. And I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that there’s a ton of satisfaction at “seeing” the curriculum you’ve built.
Color Coded Teacher Binder Organization
Each of my ancient cultures owns a binder color. Mesopotamia is green, Egypt is navy blue, India is orange, etc. And since I’ve become a bit obsessive compulsive about organization, my binders have to be the same colored 1 1/2 ” binder for each ancient culture.
Because I teach using the GRAPES Structure, I have one binder (sometimes two) for each GRAPES letter. When I’m looking for a document, I immediately head to the appropriate binder.
When I started with my teacher binder organization, I used one big 3″ binder for each ancient culture. The binder weighed a ton and was cumbersome. And heaven help you when you drop it and EVERY page falls out!!
Color Coded Dividers
I use file folders as section dividers in each binder. They’re sturdier than traditional binder tabs. And again, because I’m OCD, my dividers match my binder color.
My binders each contain the same 3 basic dividers – Readings and Comprehension Worksheets (I write my own text materials), Primary Source DBQs, and Vocabulary Activities.
Then I add custom dividers as needed to each binder – like my Mummifying Carrot Materials in my Egypt Religion binder.
Plastic Page Protectors
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Plastic Page Protectors. They keep all my papers in a beautiful non-wrinkled state.
Every piece of paper (or whole document) goes into a plastic page protector. And it’s much quicker to flip through plastic page protectors than through paper.
I insert each Answer Key behind its worksheet. When I need the Answer Key, I pull out the entire plastic sheet from my binder, leaving the answer key inside. Easy to replace the whole page when I’m done.
Click HERE to see my Ancient China Resources
Learning Center Materials
If I can, I slip loose activity pieces into a plastic sleeve and store them in the appropriate binder.
Click photo to see Ancient Cultures Vocab Activities
I use a lot of half-fold booklets in my classroom. Students like their unique size. I like that booklets are sturdy enough for use year after year. They don’t store easily in binders, but they do fit perfectly into Staples 9L Really Useful Boxes.
I keep a copy of my unit plan in front of each binder for handy reference.
Ready to Dive into Teacher Binder Organization?
If your paper files form Mt. Everest in your desk or file drawer, don’t wait one more minute! Make teacher binder organization your happy reality.
Ready your binders, dividers, and page protectors.
Save your sanity. As you work through each unit, organize only those teaching materials. Print out missing documents to add to your binder.
By yearend, you’re breathing calm yoga breaths.
You can do this.
If you fall in love with Teacher Binder Organization for your paper teaching materials, then definitely take a look at my Student Binder Organization System! It was a game changer at my school.
If you’re looking for ready-to-organize teaching materials, check out my full line of Ancient History Resources.