Friday, May 24, 2013

Binders... and my love-hate relationship with them

Thanks to a few organizational linkys going on I discovered that many fellow bloggers feel the same way I do about filing cabinets.

They SUCK.

Folders bend, papers curl, things get lost in a sea of paper, and something that was meant to keep you organized ends up accumulating paper at an alarming rate. One blogger (sorry I don't remember who) said something to the effect of "the only thing file folders are good for is lapbooking." And I agree 100%. Right now, my filing cabinet is where I house all my listening centers.

With the filing cabinet off-limits, I switched to binders like many of you. And they are wonderful. Everything has a home, papers stay neat, and the binders are easy to store.


I'm starting to realize that my binders are turning into a filing cabinet in disguise. I have 6,395 binders (or something like that) and they take up a huge chunk of my storage space. As I began to pack up my room, I also realized that the binders are heavy. I filled 4 huge totes with just content binders (social studies and science). I decided I needed to take a closer look at these and see if I couldn't remedy this situation a bit.

This is the best picture I could find of my binders in my room. Right now they are all in boxes in my garage.

Why the war on binders? Next year I will be moving to a new school. Which is a good enough reason in and of itself to re-evaluate your organizational systems. BUT my new position is a First to Second grade looping position. Which means that every-other year, I will be teaching first grade curriculum. I've never taught first grade before.... So I am sure I will be accumulating first grade materials very quickly in the near future. So unless I want to haul an entire grade-level home every summer, I need to figure out a way to store two grade levels' worth of materials in one classroom.

Another reason I'm taking a closer look at my binders is that in this digital age, I'm finding that I haven't been using much that I can't store electronically. Digital space is virtually endless. So why waste the physical space?

Enter - my summer project!

I will be going through ALL of my binders, purging materials I don't use or have stored digitally, and then either scanning in and/or digitally re-creating anything I think I may use. I know there are some things that I will need to keep as hard copies, so I will still have some binders. But my goal is to switch all my 2 and 3 inch binders to 1/2 inch or 1 inch binders.

So what do you think? Is it possible to keep only digital versions of the materials we use or are we bound by some mystical order of teacherhood to hold onto the paper?

Stay fabulous!


  1. Go, girl, go! I think it is completely doable, BUT you will have to keep your digital materials super well organized. Sometimes (okay, many, many times) I struggle with this. I get lazy and don't put items in folders and then my document folder is HUGE and I can't remember exactly what I named something. Geez! So make sure you begin with a plan of organization for your digital items.

    1. Oh I am meticulous about digital folders. I spent the morning cleaning them up and making sure all the folders were labeled correctly. Now I just have to remember to back up my jump drive so I don't loose everything!

  2. I am thinking about my cupcake drive at the moment. I know I put things into folders by our standard, but I don't know if that was helpful or just OCD annoying. But I think I should do that with my binders too. Not that I have as many as you- but I didn't open them once this year- so they just took up space.

    1. I'm working on page dividers with each standard on them for the binders I end up keeping. I'll share them with you when I'm done.

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  4. Ugh! I feel the same way about binders. I have gone back and forth between files and binders a few times in my career and have found a combination of both works well for me. I have packed both my files and binders a few times and it can be a challenge! I have thought about scanning everything and going digital, but then again, I am starting to get lost in all my digital files. All of my purchases and graphics are difficult to organize because I can't put my hands on them! I am moving to a new room this year (again!) and I am mulling over the same things. I can't wait to see your progress!


    Leaping into Teaching

    1. Thanks Christine. Its good to know I'm not the only one who can't make one system work the way I want. I'm thinking about making cheat sheets for my binders that have smaller images of my digital files so when I open up the new (hopefully smaller) binder I can look at that page and remember what I have in digi-space. I am the same in that I need to be able to see and touch what I have or I forget about it.

  5. I like having everything digital, too! I have TONS of files on my work computer (need an external hard drive just for them), and I would LOVE to move other files onto the computer eventually. Not as many hard copies for me. It really is a great way to go!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

  6. Yes, it's possible to convert all of your files into digital and minimize your physical clutter. Even so, as other people have already said here, digital files also need to be managed just as the same as papers. But managing your digital files doesn't end in just organizing it for ease and convenience of access. You also need to make sure you have back-ups of your files and these back-ups are stored securely and you can access them anytime and anywhere. On that aspect, perhaps you might find it more convenient if you use a data management service to manage your files. Not only will you have physical and digital copies of your back-ups, you will also have protection for your data.

    Williams Data Management