Weekly Work Folders

When I first started teaching many moons ago, I learned pretty quickly that if your organizational skills were subpar, you were in for a world of trouble. One of the things I struggled with the most was managing students' finished work. I tinkered with various methods, like mailboxes and file crates and just handing  it back to them when I was done grading with a wish and a prayer that it would actually get home to the parents somehow.

After many years and many methods, what I'm doing now seems to work better than anything else I've tried. Just thought I would share in case any of you struggle with this like I did. Man, where were teacher blogs and Pinterest when I started teaching? Oh, that's right! They didn't exist yet! Seriously, I did not even have a phone in my classroom when I started teaching, let alone internet access. We didn't have to chisel our lessons in stone, but I did have an actual chalkboard. I am making myself sound oooooold, but it's not like we had to hide from dinosaurs at recess or anything. {I'm 41 for the record. How did that happen so fast??}

Anyway, I digress. Back to organization.

Tip #1: Take a number
Assign each student a number and have them put that number on every paper. This makes it easy-breazy to put your students' work in order before you enter grades or get it ready to send home. Seems simple enough, but it took me 3 years before I saw someone else do this and I had one of those V-8 moments. I also number many, many things in the classroom so that I can re-use them next year without making any changes.

Tip #2: Have a strict return policy
Be sure your students know how to return homework and other finished work. My students have 2 folders in their desk. One red, one green. Red means stop. Green means go. The red folder stays at school and any unfinished work or work not yet collected goes in the red folder. Green is the homework folder. Green folders go home every day with notes, homework, handouts, etc. I  never randomly have kids return work to the finished work basket. I have my daily helper collect each assignment and turn them into the basket all together. If someone is missing the assignment, the helper tells me. This eliminates the "I put it in the basket, I swear!" conversation.

Tip #3 Get off the Friday Folder train
So many teachers struggle with Friday Folders. Now,  I like alliteration as much as the next girl, but having everything checked, graded, filed and ready to send home on Friday turned me into a giant stressball. Now I give the kids some Fun Friday time every week and that's when I try to catch up on grading, but I don't have the pressure of having to have it all done before they leave.

Tip #4 Recruit volunteers
I have the same mom who comes in every Monday, affectionately known as my Monday Mom {ha! Got my alliteration in there after all!}. She takes all the graded papers and organizes them into a pile for each kid and tucks them into their weekly work folder.

Tip #5 Invest in your folders
I spend a chunk of change each year on these plastic folders. They will last all year though. I ask for gift cards to office stores at the start of the year and most of the time I get at least a little bit to help defray the cost. Check with Office Depot to see if your school has a savings card plan with them. We have a special card that we can show them at checkout and we get a pretty significant discount on some items.
I'm a dork and make little labels for each folder with clip art that looks like each kid. In all honestly though, the kids end up loving that and they take a bit more pride and ownership in the folder when handling it.

Tip #6 CYA
Include a sign off sheet in the folder for the parents to acknowledge the fact that they saw the work from that week. I also like to have a place for comments so I have additional documentation of parent contact. If they are writing "nice job!" every week, they can't all of a sudden storm in and demand to know why I didn't teach xyz using the blah-blah method if they've been complimentary the entire year. Click on the pictures below to snag a copy of the note I send home with the first folder of the year along with the parent signature page I keep in the weekly folder.

Hope this helps someone out there who may be struggling to find a simple system that works :)

P.S. Be sure to stop by this weekend. 
I'm having a contest that you won't want to miss!


  1. Completely agree with you that organization is the key to success. I've always wanted to do the numbering thing, but my class list changes so frequently during the year that I just don't know if it would work. Our students move in and out so frequently during the year, it's ridiculous (rent is due at the end of the month, so they find somewhere new to live. Then it happens again the next month.) Anyways, I think I may go ahead and try it out though :) Thanks for the reminder of this great and simple idea.

    Fun In First

    1. Just reading your post. You may have figured it out by now. I have always used the number system. I simply retire the number if that student leaves and add a number if I get a new student. This pretty much matches my grade book as well.

  2. I've been using the number system for as long as I can remember. EVERYTHING gets a number - their cubbies, their textbooks/journals, their folders, etc. I find this particularly helpful with my kinders when school first starts because many of them can't write their names yet, but almost all of them are capable of writing a number (that I can recognize!) on their papers.

    These are great suggestions for new teachers. Thanks for sharing!

  3. It takes years to develop systems like this! I use numbers, too. and label many things with numbers so they don't have to be re-made every year.

    I use a similar system with folders, envelopes to go home, etc. It's not perfect, but it gets better every year!

    Sally from ElementaryMatters

  4. Awesome! Um, I STILL don't have a phone in my room!

  5. I love your weekly work folder idea. I think I might do that! And I also don't have a phone in my room. Actually I don't even know where the button is to call the office... so if I need something, I send a kid or run and hope nothing happens in the 10 seconds that I'm gone, haha!!

    Marvelous Multiagers!

  6. Thank you so much. I have to come up with a homework plan for my classroom management course, and I'm so happy when I run across a "tried and true" from a vet. This sounds great!


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