April 5, 2015

Touch Each Paper Once

In my first years of teaching, my awesome mentor gave me some advice: "Only touch each piece of paper one time." At that point I had folders for collected work/work to hand back and a fancy rotation system to tell me which was which. I didn't trust kids to put their paper in the folder in the correct orientation so I walked around the room collecting papers, neatly stacked them and tucked them into my precious folder. Inevitably there was a student who didn't have their assignment ready when I circulated the first time so I would have them put it on my chair so I could properly file things later. You can imagine how tiresome this would get.

Now I have a system kids can use all on their own. There's a filing system on the corner of my desk and I never collect papers these days. Kids either hand all their papers to one side of the room and the kids on the end put the stack in the folder for their class, or kids put their papers in the folder when they are ready. That filing system is the 'in box' for all my classes. Each class has a different folder that is color coded and labeled. When I'm ready to grade, I grab the folder and touch the papers for the first time! After I grade, I put them in the 'out box' - each class also has a folder (color coded and labeled) in the magazine holder. I do then touch the papers a second time when I hand them back. I could have students do that but I like to time the handing back of papers well - I return them while students are working independently on a day when they will have time to review the feedback before the end of class.

Touching paper as few times as possible applies to kids who need extra copies as well. If students are absent or lose their paper they know where to go. My PreCalc students have a standing folder in the magazine holder from before. I put all my extra copies in there (newest ones in front) and they can go grab anything they need. My Algebra students need a bit more guidance. We have a bulletin board where we pinned folders. When I'm done handing out an assignment I put the extras in a folder. On the left are the homework assignments, grouped by week. On the right are classwork assignments. This quarter we started adding sticky notes with the title of the assignment since I'm not so awesome at making the title of the paper match the title I put in the gradebook. You wouldn't think this would be challenging, but apparently I struggle?

I still have kids who try to hand me papers or ask me to get them extra copies, but I can just point to one side of the room or the other while continuing what I'm working on and they realize that they can do it themselves. Teaching kids organization and independence is great. Limiting my responsibilities so I can focus on teaching is awesome.

1 comment:

  1. I return them while students are working independently on a day when they will have time to review the feedback before the end of class.