I've had a hard time getting into my groove this fall. I've had a really hard time getting my head to a place where assessing my students' work is part of my day. Instead, I'd get to work an hour early, as is my practice, and spin my wheels. I was spending far too much of my prep time searching through my files and photocopying and not nearly enough time on good planning and assessment.
During my two hour session at school, I made a plan for what I wanted the week to look like in my classes. Then, I printed and copied all of the things I would need to enact that plan. I grabbed an empty binder and divided it into sections: one has the mentor texts I will use for reader's workshop mini-lessons on Monday, another has grammar handouts that will be used for Tuesday's lesson. The kids will also need some longer mentor texts that they will use Tuesday as exemplars for an expository writing assignment they will start on Wednesday. Those handouts are in another section, and aren't quite ready for students yet, so I need to go through them later today and print the ones I will use.
The last section of the binder has the task cards they will use to talk to each other about their independent novels on Thursday, as well as a handout for a short group assignment they will complete on Friday.
I know that this is nothing new or revolutionary, but it's big for me. My binder is mostly complete and ready to go for the week, so I can use my prep time on things that matter, not on searching through my digital files and copying reams of paper. I'm making a pledge to myself that I will spend focused time every Friday to get my binder ready for the next week. I'll still have things to do some weekends, but again, they will be the things that count, like giving feedback to my students.
Do you have any tried and true tricks for staying organized? Please share in the comments!