Winning the War on Paper

I am embarrassed sometimes to have other people (adults, really) come in my classroom unexpectedly. At any given time, I have piles of papers on my desk, on the floor near my desk, or on the shelves behind my desk. It just happens. The piles seem to grow and move throughout the day. It isn’t until all of the kids leave that I realize just how messy my area is! I am declaring an all out war on paper!

Teaching vertically has really tested my organization skills. I can handle keeping track of one class of students. But five classes? As much as I have tried to stay on top of every sheet of paper, every folder, and resource, inevitably the piles creep back into my life! It takes effort to be mindful of where everything should go so that I can find it later. I have to organize not only the materials that relate to teaching each grade level, but the paperwork that is associated with my department. It really starts to add up and space is already at a premium.

So as I prepare to close out this year, I am already beginning to create systems that will help me organize materials for next year. Here is what I have put in place to streamline the amount of paper in my life.


chartThese few tweaks have already helped me reduce the anxiety and stress that comes from seeing all the piles of paper lying around my classroom. There is much more I will have to consider since my administration has let me know that paper will be given in small amounts throughout the year and that it cannot be placed on school supply lists next year. This is not a “new” problem for school districts, but it is presenting a new way of thinking about my┬áteaching.

Here is what I am still wondering:

  • How can student recording sheets use less paper?
  • Do all centers require the use of recording sheets?
  • How can I use Office 365 to create interactive recording sheets?
  • How can I use a digital journal/ portfolio to document student thinking and progress?
  • How will I handle homework?
  • How will I communicate the changes I am making with parents?
  • What areas need to remain paper based?

I will continue to reflect on this topic in the days to come and welcome any and all ideas, comments, or other questions from you guys!


How do you manage all of the paper in your classrooms? How have you reduced you use? How have students and parents responded to these changes?