The first thing is what I do to keep my desk less cluttered and keep my brain from being frazzled. See, my first couple years of teaching, I would have books and copies and materials and who knows what else just scattered all over my desk and table. To the point where I felt like THIS was what my room looked like...
These don't only help me, they help if I have an unexpected sub. Sometimes I am just too sick to get things gathered for my sub. But this solves that problem. I can easily look at my plans, email them to my friend and she will give them to my sub. The sub can go in the drawer and take out whatever is needed for the day without having to know where anything is in my classroom. These drawers have saved me with substitutes on more than one occasion. And it helps my teammates because they don't have to run around trying to gather busy work for my kids to do if I am out.
The next sanity saver is another
When students finish, they go up to the drawers and highlight their name, put the paper in the correct drawer, then cross their name off the list. Very simple. When time is up, anyone who has NOT finished gets their incomplete work folder (these are hanging in a pocket chart on the wall, I have no pics sorry) and put the assignment in there. The folder then goes in the top blue bucket that says incomplete work.
Any time students have free time the first thing they must do is their incomplete work. If I have NOT taken the assignment to grade yet, they find the stack in the drawer, put it in, and cross their name off. If I have taken the papers already, they put it in the bottom blue bucket that says Late Work and they go to the board and erase their number from the assignment list.
I know it seems like a lot, and you may be thinking, oh my word my kids wouldn't do that. But I promise you, they will. I had one student this past year (he ended up leaving to go to a different placement) that had a lot of learning disabilities and well, just a lot of problems over all. But after a few tries and the kids reminding him along the way, he remembered how to do it. It saves me time, keeps papers together, and keeps the students accountable and teaches them responsibility.
I hope you enjoyed my long-winded systems. And I am currently working on a new look for those drawers... they will be posted on my blog! Be sure to stop by and see how much better they look now!
-- Third Grade Tidbits