Classroom Organization: You Lost My Paper!

Friday, January 20, 2017
Classroom organization is something that has taken me a while (read: years!) to get a handle on. I have tried so many different systems- collect and hand back, mailboxes, collect and file, student notebooks, binders, you name it, I have probably tried it!

This is the first year the I think I have finally aced the paper trail in my classroom. It has been an absolute life-saver! In the past 6 years of teaching, I have never had students papers so organized, grading has never been easier and I have not "lost" a single thing!

 The set-up is this- All students have their own folder (2 pocket paper folder with brads) and hanging file folder (labeled with their name). All of these folders are arranged by class period.
classroom organization
Every student has a hanging file and folder with their name.
As they come in the door, the grab their folder, the worksheet for the day and a pencil.
(The worksheet for the day has the Do-Now, lesson or work for the day, and the Exit ticket). This should be immediately hole-punched and put into the back of the folder.
After they have collected their materials, they get started with the day!
Classroom Organization
This is the table by the door. Everything they need for the day is here!
At the end of class, they simply return their folder to it's hanging file, the pencil to the bucket and we are done and ready for another day!

Everything we do is kept in their folder- from daily work, to quizzes, tests, labs, everything! I will collect quizzes and tests, and have occasionally collected lab work, but I file it into the hanging file folder after it is graded. The next day, they collect it, hole punch and put it into their folder!
Grading has never been easier- I use stamp markers to mark their work sections as I go along. I grade each folder every Friday- just check for the stamps and done! If the work is not hole-punched and placed in the brads, it does not get graded. I explain it like a job-if I don't file my paperwork, I don"t get paid!
Classroom Organization
Ignore the scribbles- she has never lost anything!
If a student wants to have me grade work that they missed, or anything from previous weeks, they have to fill out a form letting me know what they have completed. I am willing to accept work at anytime, but you could easily have a cutoff point as well.
Classroom organization
On the left is my Wall 'O Work. The picture on the right is for the extra copies.

As far as extra copies, and copies for students who miss. I make enough copies for every student, plus 8 (I have no idea why 8, just habit!). At the end of the day, all extra copies are filed into the "Missing Work" bin, in number order. On the wall, I keep track of the work we do each day (numbered in order, with day of the week and date listed). Students don't even ask anymore- they just take a look at the wall and check to see what they are missing. They go collect it, complete it, and write a note letting me know it is done!
This is directly next to the entrance table-everything else they might need!
This took a little bit of trial and error this year, but it has become such a great system! I have even had my admin asking me to share it with others! I have known for a while that I wanted to use a student journal type system, but last year was a mess! Order was terrible, there was no real way to add in printed pages, the students were THE. WORST. at numbering and labeling pages. They almost never went back and made up missing work.

The biggest changes I have done since the beginning of this year is go from having the student's folders numbered (which was really difficult because we have a very transient population) to filed alphabetically and adding in the extra copies bin.

Originally, my extra copies were in folders on the wall, but then what do you do with them after that week? Where do they go? How do the students know what they missed? Thus was born the Lesson Wall and Missing Work bucket.

So there you are-my genius classroom papers organization ideas! I hope that some of it might be useful for your classroom. If you have a genius idea, please list it in the comments section-I love to hear how other teachers organize the tidal wave of papers!

As an added bonus, here is a link to my FREE science-themed classroom labels! Happy organizing!


  1. So many great organization tips! Thank you SO much for sharing. I will definitely be using some of these! Great post.

  2. Great post!! I LOVE all of these tips! Do you do class room organization consulting?! :)

  3. Great ideas for keeping track of papers. I especially like the numbered missing work folders with the list on the wall!

  4. Hi,
    I have also tried using these folders in my high school classes. However, I find that they get filled up quickly...sometimes I can't even fit all the pages for one unit in the folder. Do you have your kids clean them out at all?