Thursday, February 13, 2014

Organizing Student Mail / Papers Sent Home to Parents {Paper Organization in the Classroom}


This post is part of my 20 day "Organizing and Managing Paper in the Classroom" Series. Today I am going to share tips and ideas for storing and organizing all of those papers that travel between home and school including graded work, flyers and notices, and parent communication.

Oh my gosh this post could be a book all by itself. I’m going to try to keep in short and simply share what I have found works best for me.

Student Mailboxes:
I use a cardboard paper sorter as my class mailboxes. I think this is an important investment as it is a great organizational tool and is used daily. I love how I was able to remove a shelf from my classroom and fit these boxes inside.


In the past I have used a hanging pocket folder , wooden shoe organizer , hanging file crate , and also just tried passing things out to students’ seats. The mailbox system is by far the best in my opinion.

Homework: 
Giving homework as a packet and collecting it on Friday saves time each day and teaches students time management.

Have a basket designated to turning in homework.  During the first part of the year I just have them turn in their folders and will remove the homework myself, but starting in January I make the students responsible for turning in the work themselves.

Communication Folders:
I like to use email for any non-confidential message that is not time sensitive. However, I request that parents send written notes in for dismissal changes as well as notes that need to be seen immediately as I am not always able to check email during the day. Each student has a daily communication folder that goes home for this purpose. I use it to send home graded work and important notices as well. I used to have a basket on my teacher table for notes, money, etc, but found that students would sometimes forget to turn them in or would misplace them. Now I have them place their folder on my teacher table and I quickly flip through them first thing in the morning and remove those items myself. 


{read the original communication folder blog post here}

The process only takes 2-3 minutes and I do it as soon as my class has settled in and begun their independent reading. After I check them I have my mail carrier put them into the student mailboxes. This lets me see at a glance who didn’t turn in a folder and I can check in with that student to see if the folder was forgotten at home or is in his backpack.

I use a solid color folder for all students communication folders. By keeping them all uniform its easy to visually tell them apart from other folders.


On Thursday I send home a folder with school flyers and non-graded, practice work. When I receive the flyers from the office I slide them into one of the empty bottom compartments in my mailbox sorter. I do the same with student work. On Wednesday afternoons after school or Thursday mornings before school I have student volunteers distribute them along with the Thursday folder into the individual boxes. Parents know to look for the Thursday folder and to return it to school empty on Friday.

Parent Communication:
As I mentioned, I like to use email for non-urgent, non-confidential communication. I set up a folder for each student on my computer and move the messages into them in case I need to reference them.


For paper communication, I have a hanging file in my desk with each student’s number on the tab. I just drop any notes from home along with tardy slips into the folder after I read them. While I don’t typically need to reference them again, I do think it is a good idea to hold onto all of them until the end of the year.









{Sources 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7}

 






Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 



By the way, if you are not already subscribed to The Clutter-Free Classroom newsletter I encourage you sign up. Subscribers receive weekly tips for organizing and managing a classroom as well as exclusive free printables. You can sign up here.