File Organization for Teachers

Welcome to today’s video: File Organization for Teachers! This video was the most requested topic from all those who voted in the poll on our Facebook fan page.

I explain how I keep track of all my files, and never miss an opportunity to teach that great lesson because I couldn’t locate it in time.

Supplies needed will include file folders, hanging files, labels, and filing cabinet, file crate, or jump drive.

Today's video tip: I explain how I keep track of all files, and never miss an opportunity to teach that great lesson because I couldn’t locate it in time.

You can check out the video below or read the transcript under the video – make sure to check out the added notes I thought of after I recorded the video.


“Hi, everyone! Charity Preston here from The Organized Classroom Blog. I hope everyone is having a fantastic week so far. It seems like forever since I’ve created a video.

So we’re here today because this is the video that you requested to see based on our poll results from last week.

File organization for teachers is what we’re up to today. I’m going to try to make it short, but I tend to ramble on and of course YouTube limits me at 10 minutes. So let’s get it in.

You’re going to need a few basic supplies when you go to set up your filing system. You will need basic file folders and hanging files.

You will also need labels, of course.

And you we’ll need a filing cabinet. If you don’t have a filing cabinet, another great alternative that I have tons and tons of are filing crates. You can find them very cheap even at the dollar store.

They are open at the top, but they stack very nicely especially underneath tables that have tablecloths so you can’t really see them.

Or you can put a curtain in front of them if they are on a bookshelf.

It has been pretty simple for me to make sure that I have all of my supplies in one place.

So when I sit down to plan my lessons for the week it is great if you have everything right in front of you.

There is nothing that I personally hate worse than two weeks after I’ve taught a great unit about rocks and minerals, and then I find something later that I had set aside to use specifically this for that unit and now the unit’s over with, and it makes me sad I overlooked a wonderful resource I had ready to go but didn’t have it accessible.

I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to make sure that everything ends up in that file so nothing gets overlooked the next time I teach that unit.

I like to first sit down and figure out how I plan. I personally planned by the week, so I always sit down on the Wednesday before and plan out my lessons for the entire next week. I also know I plan by chapter or stories.

Maybe you plan by units or by a specific standard. Maybe you work in themes. However you plan is how you need to create the labels and the files.

So being that I plan by story for my reading stories. I will sit down and type up all labels of all the story titles.

I have an entire sheet of labels that have all the story titles, I pull them off and then I stick them right here on the regular file folders. Then I place that file folder right into my hanging file.

Now I have a file with one story’s name on it, and I drop it right into my filing cabinet. Continue until all your subcategories have their own file in the filing cabinet.

If I sit down and plan for an entire week, I’ll pull my reading chapter, whatever math chapter I’m doing, and then either a science or a social studies chapter as well. That makes it super easy to do my lesson plans even when I’m not at school.

After you have created all your files, it’s time to start placing materials into those files that go with that specific story chapter or unit theme.

I will begin by placing the pre-test and the post-test for the story of the week.

Then I add any specific worksheets that perhaps I need the students to do. If there is a specific activity you like to do that goes with just that one story of the week, I would place that in there as well.

It gets a little bit more tricky whenever you have professional development books or maybe an activity guide or specific projects that can be used in a different bunch of different places. What I like to do in those cases is drop everything on the copier and I make enough copies to place that item everywhere that you might need it for that year.

If you have something that you do every other week or once a month, make that many copies and put it into that correct file.

If it is a trade book that you’re only going to use for that one story or that one chapter, if it’s small enough, drop it in the file is already there. If it’s one that you want the students to be able to utilize as well throughout the year, what I like to do is make a copy of the front cover and put that right in your file as well. That way you won’t forget that you are going to use it.

If there are larger manipulatives or a game in your supply cabinet that you don’t ever remember to go in there and look for, take a picture of it, print it off, drop the picture right onto a plain document, and print it off to add to your file.

You will never forget what materials and what items that you have to use. If you have a book that has lots of different ideas in it that you can use all over the place, just make a copy of that specific activity for whatever chapter unit lesson it is that you want to put it in.

Make copies of everything and just make a little note to yourself on the copy like, “Hey, make sure to go check out pages 56 to 58 in this activity guide.” That way you can go grab it when it’s time to do your lessons.

I have everything sitting in front of me. This makes planning a snap.

Now, the important thing to remember is whenever you are finished with that file for the week, don’t forget to drop it back into the filing cabinet so that way it doesn’t get lost. And you don’t have a huge stack of filing that you have to go back through again. Bonus that it’s already there for you to be used for the next year.

I hope you have enjoyed this idea and we’ll see you in the next video. Bye!”

Additional Classroom Filing Cabinet Thoughts…

After finishing the video I thought of a couple more points I wanted to add (I am always so concerned with going over the 10 minute YouTube time limit.)

1. If you have websites, SmartBoard files, or other electronic resources you want to be included in a certain chapter or unit file, just print off a quick copy of one of the pages or grab a quick screen shot to add to the file so that it is not forgotten in your saved favorites file on your computer or on a jump drive.

2. After thinking about how much paper will be used in these files, and knowing there are some teachers out there who are trying to cut back on paper consumption, another option would be to scan or take a picture of the same things you would have placed into the hard copy of the file.

Then, save your items into separate folders labeled the same way they would be labeled in the filing cabinet, but save them on a jump drive instead. For those with limited space, this would be a perfect solution. You may even want to check out LiveBinders.

Or use a sqworl or Pinterest to save them all in one place as well!

Simple Classroom Systems Starter Kit

Would you like to know step-by-step routines that put teachers back in control in just 4 weeks?

Download the FREE Classroom Systems Starter Kit now!

3. As you find new ideas, even if you have already covered that topic, add them to the file for next year. All you are doing is compiling lots of ideas. It does not mean you need to teach everything within your file. It is nice to change it up from year to year and try new (and old) ideas. Your file will never go out of style!

If you decide to use old-fashioned file folders and labels, but do not know how to create labels on a computer, make sure to check out these two posts to see it in action!
How To Create Labels – Mac Version
How To Create Labels – PC Version

Good luck and join us back at the Facebook fan page to add your ideas and solutions – or sound off if you have ever used LiveBinders – I would be interested to know more myself! Enjoy!


Charity Preston Bio Pic

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *