Binders Instead of File Folders: My Reflections a Year Later

Last year this was the mess I was working with!!!!  Our building was closed for the summer (cleaning and NO air conditioning).  I happened to drive by the building, and the front door was open.  I begged and begged, and I was able to run into the building and clean out my file cabinet.



My binder categories were:
Guided Reading
Phonemic Awareness
School Improvement
Progress Monitoring
Letters and Sounds
Literacy Work Stations

I just laid out all the binders.  If I didn't have a binder, I made a piece of paper with the title.  Then I started sorting. The picture below was early, early in the process.  My living room floor was completely covered in papers.  Through this process, I  was able to go through my files and I discovered that I had quite a few duplicates and quite a few things that just needed to go to recycling ASAP!

Once I sorted, then I began putting documents in page protectors.

I would say this process took a good two days.  It was rainy, so I got to catch up on some DVR shows.  However, by taking EVERYTHING out, and making a huge mess, I was REALLY motivated to get it cleaned up!

One Year Later

Since I did all this work on my binders, I felt like I should keep the same system electronically.  My files are all in folders that match the same title as my binders!  I love it :)

Did I like the binder system?

These are a few things that I learned:

  1. If I didn't immediately put something back in it's place, it went in my TO FILE folder.  On Friday, I filed everything in my TO FILE folder.
  2. I had extra page protectors in the back of every binder for new things.
  3. I was really careful to make sure what I was putting in the binders was quality materials that I would use again.  When I had file folders, I saved EVERYTHING!  
  4. I think it worked well for me because I don't have TONS of stuff.  Since I'm a reading teacher/literacy coach, my binders were focused around areas of reading.  I feel like I have good stuff that meets my students needs.  I'm not looking for lots of "new" ideas to fill in binders.  
This is my crate that has my TO FILE folder

Questions to Ask Before you Take the Plunge

1)  Are you willing to part with some of your belongings?
2)  How many file folders do you have?  I had two drawers full.  If you have double that, this might not be the system for you.
3)  Are you willing to put the pages back into page protectors when you are done with it?
I have some FREE monthly binder organizers, if you want to get started.   
I also have two sets of binders you can customize.  The Classy Collection includes chevron binders and spines as well as labels for the classroom.  The labels come in two sizes.

The Happy Collection includes binders and spines as well as labels for the classroom.  This collection includes fun Melonheadz clipart.


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