Wednesday, 10 September 2014

One Big Accomplishment

Day 9: One Big Accomplishment

There are many accomplishments! As an educator I like to keep learning and keep reaching for that next goal.  
I think one of my biggest accomplishments is organization

If you met me five years ago teaching you would have seen a desk covered in piles of paper.
You would have found student marks/grades on sticky notes, duo tangs and binders. 
You would have opened up my cupboard to find my resources away, but not in any order.

An administrator that I had in the past challenged me on it.  I honestly thought...

"It's an organized mess. I can find what I want when I need it so it doesn't matter".

He challenged me on this. He told me that some students can not learn with mess around them. It is too distracting.  He said he is one of them.  When he came into my room he was often distracted by the piles on my desk and wanted to organize them. He often lost his train of thought while there because of it.

This stopped me in my tracks!  I had never thought that my mess could be impacting the way a student is learning.  I vowed to make organization my goal that year and every year since then. I have days where I fall off the waggon and you might find a binder or two on my guided reading table but overall my whole day to day has changed.


1. I started using tools online to help me record my grades/anecdotal notes.  I have a new goal to use google docs more effectively.  

2. I tried a new system of storing my own papers. I used drop box. Instead of creating binders of units I started files on dropbox for my subjects. 

3. I have two sets of three drawers bins on my counter. Each drawer has a label for the day of the week. My plans, resources,materials or anything I need for the day goes in that bin. Extra bin for "other". The other usually houses extra materials, the following weeks materials or activities for our tribes. 

4. I did away with my desk. No desk means no spot to put my things.  

I am still working on it every day but I noticed a huge difference. One area especially different was report card writing. Everything in one spot! No more flipping between duo tangs, notebooks, sticky notes etc.  Ahhhhh!

Thanks to the admin who took the time to challenge me and pushed me forward in a way that might not be noticeable to others around me.

How do you organize in your classroom?


  1. Wow, Maria! It sounds like the comment that influenced you to make changes really helped you rethink your organization. I'm impressed by the planning that goes into sorting the next three days into your stacking bin.

    I'm impressed that you don't have stacks of paper all over the room. Even with a desk, that still happens to me!

  2. I loved your post for so many reasons! This totally resonated with me. The truth is, I don't have a desk & haven't had one for 13 years. I had one in my first year of teaching, and the problem was that it was always covered in papers. I struggle so much with organization of objects. In grade school, I was the student that had all of my papers fall out the middle of the desk onto the floor. At home, I'm still this student. :) But at school, I've come to realize the impact that this can have on students and student learning, so I vow to remain organized. I limit clutter. I don't leave any papers out, and I regularly organize my cupboards. I try to be a minimalist. I think that it's important that we always think about the impact on students. If others are working on staying organized, how would you suggest that people get started on doing so?


    1. Great question Aviva! I think I had to decide first what will help me feel more organized. Have clean counters and desk makes me feel clutter free. Then I moved on from there. What could I use to help me achieve that goal?
      My advice then is to pick one area to start. It could even be as small as the day book on your desk. Try to keep that one thing or one area organized. Try different ways, methods to help.

  3. That's a huge accomplishment! I'm usually pretty good about being organized, until the coaching and the musical rehearsals start, and then it's back to the piles...

    My classroom desk (well, the lab bench at the front of the room) is usually spic-n-span, but my office desk can get crazy. One trick I find is to neatly pin up important documents or things-to-be-done on a bulletin board. It serves as a good, visual reminder for me, as well as keeping things off my desk, and out of the piles (where it might be, um, temporarily misplaced!).


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