Thursday, August 19, 2010

File cabinets, piles, and desk drawers: Oh my!

Today, I undertook the task I've been avoiding all week, and, to be honest, all summer (I had my keys... I could have been working on it bit by bit on weekends... ). And what task is that? The Great Filing Cabinet and Pile Cleanout of 2010.

I am not by nature an organized person. Well, maybe that's not true. I have organized the daylights out of my office at home, and am good with things like bookshelves and DVD shelves and similar such things that are fairly low traffic and able to be organized. But when it comes to files and papers and curriculum materials I amass at a rate that is unfathomable to me, I am a complete disaster. As Jack McFarland would say, "D. I. Saster." And in the four years I've been at Poway, it hasn't really helped much that I've been either in deer-in-headlights-new-prep mode, or tweak-it-until-its-right mode, and so I haven't really been taking the time or making the effort to create and enforce an organizational strategy that works for me. Plus, and though this is certainly a lazy person's excuse, it was a very real reason for why I remained until today a criminally negligent filer: my one good filing cabinet (well, and the other two crummy ones) are all in the back corners of the room, blocked fairly effectively by student desks. So when most of my work goes on at my front tables and my desk, which is in the front of the room, I rarely take the time to simply place my instructional materials into a neatly labeled file in a drawer. But towards the very end of the year last year, I basically bit the bullet and heaved my good filing cabinet back behind my desk in the front corner of the room. I am hoping with every well-intentioned fiber of my being that this move will keep me better organized.

Flash forward to today: the *actual* cleanout. [Now, I did do a huge clean out three summers ago when I taught summer school, but that was in many ways simply an aesthetic cleanout. Throwing away multiple copies, ditching things for curricula I don't teach any more, tossing out old student work that is just plain silly to keep. I think it was about ten boxes of recycling. Then this year, during some of the standardizing testing lulls and AP testing doldrums, I started to think carefully about how best to approach my filing. I did some more cleaning out, got my class sets of things (particularly exams and benchmarks) organized, and labeled piles for a second go through.

But today. Today was glorious. I left feeling so exhilarated, which is so dweeby and silly, but I am so, so excited that I am *thisclose* to being completely organized. I started today by sitting down at a student desk (away from the distraction of my computer) and thought carefully about what kinds of folders I would need for APEL. I decided on them, neatly wrote the labels, and labeled all of my hanging folders. I removed everything from the drawer I wanted to appoint as my APEL drawer, installed the folders, and started sorting. Some of the folders are empty, but I KNOW that there will be other things to add; basically what I have discovered I have done is created parking spaces for things I accumulate this year.

I repeated this process with my HSE 3/4 curriculum, and even went through my American Lit drawer, recycled things I really don't need, and annexed to a bank box the rest of the stuff that I don't want to part with juuuuuuust in case I ever need to teach American Lit again. I ended up with an almost-completely empty drawer (which I have appointed for stashing my food (protein bars, emergency chocolate, almonds, etc.), and an entire drawer devoted to the non-teaching-related-but-still-super-important documents I have: pay stubs, time sheets, benefits info, evaluations and observations, test score information, professional development materials, IEPs and 504s (empty, but finally have an official place to put them), and my pink slips, reinstatement letters and, because I found it today, the letter announcing the granting of my tenure.

This is probably boring to most people, but to me this is nothing short of a personal triumph. Order out of chaos. Imposing a system to offset my penchant for piles. I just kept feeling happier and happier and more and more exhilarated that I was purging old things, making room for new things, and realizing that my new system is no-nonsense and no-excuses.

I have one fairly giant pile left to go through to actually sort (we're talking paper by paper... it's an assortment of APEL things, HSE 3/4 things, and random lurking student work) and another pile of test materials that seem to have mated and taken over this summer. These will be sorted and possibly recycled. This will happen tomorrow. I can't wait to be completely done, step back and soak it all in.

Now I just need to hold myself to actually keeping all of it organized...

Among the other things I did today, just because I like the listing...

* Cleaned off and redid my calendar.
* Had two phone conversations with my principal (and department administrator) about a new development.
* Had a phone conversation with an English colleague about their schedule.
* Emailed one of the vice principals about the same new development discussed with the principal.
* Cleaned out my bottom, big desk drawer.
* Installed a lamp on my desk.
* Installed the random human things (ibuprofen, Benadryl, toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant) I bought at Target today in my desk drawer.
* Organized my food-making materials on my microwave.
* Went through and organized, and then re-hung, my paper flair (picture of Spock, random comics, cards and notes from students and colleagues, and my I <3>
* Had a conversation with a Social Science colleague about our shared AP predicaments.
* Started to train myself in using our new attendance system.

But really, the majority of my time was spent sorting paper. And more paper. And file folders. And more paper.

Tomorrow, I will conquer completely.

No comments:

Post a Comment