One of the many groups I follow on Facebook is Scholastic Teachers. I love reading the teaching tips, articles, and lesson plans they post and appreciate having a community of teachers to swap ideas with. This afternoon, the following post appeared on the wall:
"Which areas of your classroom do you need the most help decluttering and organizing? The magazine is working a story and we'd love to tackle your problem spots!"
While this method worked very well for my first year (and I still think it's a great place to start if you're new to this whole organization idea), I decided to change it up for my second year. I found myself revising my worksheets several times, and it became cumbersome to always have to remember to put the "new" master copy in my binder. What I ended up discovering was that my digital files pretty much mirrored my unit binders, with the exception of the things that had been handed down to me and student examples. Thankfully, the copy machine at my school doubles as a scanner, and I made it a habit to scan anything I didn't have digitally as I went through each unit. Now, everything I have is on my computer (and backed up on an external hard drive), which means I don't have to carry around any more binders. The only hard copies I've kept are student samples.
This system has also come in handy when coworkers have asked me to share files because I can send them electronic copies without worrying about losing my masters. Also, it's extremely helpful when using the SMART board because any of those electronic papers can be easily attached to a file. Also, if you have to email assignments or attach things to a homework hotline, everything is already at your fingertips!
And I don't limit my electronic filing to only my lesson plans. I scan just about everything I want to keep: letters of recommendation, evaluations, district information, CPDU certifications... everything! My file cabinet is filled with stationary and other special papers rather than files I have to dig through just to find one worksheet. It takes a little more time on the front end to actually file everything after it's scanned, but the end result has been worth it for me!