How to use file folders and paper systems to track processes.
Today's topic is using file folders to track complicated processes.
Karen wrote in:
I am a high school English teacher and am drowning in a sea of paperwork. How can I manage incoming and outgoing papers? I get 125 papers in one day--25 papers from five different classes.
First of all, on a personal note, Karen, thank you very much! I am in awe of high school teachers. It was hard enough being a high school student once. I can’t imagine doing it day in and day out. Of course, the job must certainly have great emotional benefits. Our favorite math teacher, Mrs. Schlesinger, was invited to our high school reunion. She was so touched to see where we went in life with her influence that she cried. Or maybe it was seeing where we ended up despite her influence that made her cry.
Either way, getting 125 papers a day would sure make me cry. I would use a couple papers from students I didn’t like as tissues to blow my nose, and then do what I do with any large pile of papers: file, file, file!
“Wait a second,” you’re thinking, “you can’t file the papers! You’re not done with them.” That’s true. I can’t file them in my reference files, but I can file them in my ongoing process files. Just watch.
Use Your Folders to Track Process
You have to do stuff to all those papers. Maybe you read them, grade them, write comments, or feed them to your dog (it’s about time that teachers should be able to use the excuse, “My dog ate your paper”). As you recall from the episode on filing, always file according to how you’ll want to find them. How will you retrieve those files?
You’ll probably be asking yourself one of a couple of questions. “Where are the ungraded papers, so I can grade them?” “Where are the papers I’m done with so I can hand them back?” and “Where are the papers I need to review again?”
These questions actually form a roadmap for the process you take each paper through. You collect it, then you grade it, then you hand it back. Some papers may need to be reviewed again, so you re-review them before handing them back.
Base your organizing around your process. Grab three file folders. Label them, “Papers to be graded,” “Papers to be handed back,” and “Papers to review.” When you collect papers, put them all in the “Papers to be graded” folder. After grading a paper, put it in the “To be handed back” folder or, if you find you need to review it later, in the “Papers to review” folder.
Now at any moment, you know exactly what’s going on with each paper, since it’s always in a folder that tells you what to do with it. When you’re in the mood to work, just grab the “to grade” or “to review” folder and get to work.
Once those folders are empty, your “to hand back” folder will be full and ready to hand back to the students. Since you have three classes whose papers you grade, you might want three sets of folders, one for each class.