Saturday, March 7, 2015

Fighting the Paper War in the Classroom

Hi, I’m Sandra from Teaching Treks and I’m very happy to be guest posting on Who’s Who!

I’d like to take this opportunity to share my attempts to tackle a problem that I’m sure some of you have also encountered. Quite simply, no matter how hard I try, my desk usually resembles a junk heap more often than it does the working space of a professional person. It’s a mess. A potpourri of paper piles that have no proper place to be.

You may have noticed that this is a photo-less post. I did actually intend to take some photos to make my point, but frankly, it’s just too embarrassing! If you work in schools, you’ll already have a clear idea of just how cluttered teachers’ desks can become. Even if you’re a neat freak yourself, there’s always someone like me who has a piling system instead of a filing system. And most of the problem is paper.

An unkind colleague once suggested that the state of my desk was probably an extension of my disorganised thought processes. Personally, I prefer the school of thought that says a messy desk is a sign of creativity. (I’m sure that school of thought exists.)

In my defence, teachers have a lot to do and managing paper is often not the highest priority. I really don’t think people appreciate the amount of paper that teachers are forced to deal with on a daily basis. Notes from parents, notes from kids, notes from the office, notes from colleagues, worksheets for lessons, worksheets to mark, spare worksheets, incomplete worksheets, catalogues, advertising pamphlets disguised as mail, professional development notes, staff meeting notes, specialist timetables… and that’s just from pile one!

I do try very hard to maintain some form of order in my work space. In fact, I am so dedicated to winning the paper war that I scour Pinterest regularly and have even created my own board to save classroom organisation tips. I am always amazed by the many clever ideas out there! So naturally I print all of these awesome ideas and add them to my piling system.

I confess to having had a paper problem ever since I began teaching many, many years ago. At the beginning of every school year I resolve to do better. And sometimes I do. I’m not at all convinced that I’m winning the paper war but I have learnt a few things I’d like to share with you.

My gifts to you (in the spirit of all things that are NOT worksheets and so cannot end up in a paper pile) are some of my re-usable Read, Pick, Flick cards for the littlies and Thinking Trek task cards for older kids. Of course I still use worksheets in the classroom and absolutely agree they can be very valuable teaching tools, but I'm always looking for ways to minimise photocopying and fight the paper war!


May victory in the paper war be yours (and mine)!


  1. This is great Sandra! I have written posts about the paper war as well. I too believe in the messy desk equals creativity School of thought. I really don't understand how I just keep making piles. Thanks for sharing your post! It was great.

    1. Thanks, Hilary! Sadly, it's all true. Tomorrow I plan to seriously tackle the dreaded piles! (but probably won't) Clearly we are both very creative! :)

  2. Ah! I feel like we are kindred spirits! I love your Pinterest comment. :)
    Not very fancy in 1st

    1. Yes Deb, those of us with piling systems need to stick together! Pinterest is a mixed blessing, isn't it!