When I was student teaching, I remember having the teacher next door to me take me into her room and show me her file cabinets. I was amazed. They were, to a newbie, the mecca of experience. There was a file on anything you could think of…from PD to content to parent newsletters…all neatly labeled with the most neat, handwritten labels I have ever seen. I was in awe! It became my mission to be THAT organized…and have that many resources…I was lucky enough to call her best friend and soon learned she was that awesome in all kinds of ways!
Fast forward to 2015 and I think I have less than one drawer of files, and half of them are personnel files. All of my resources are online now, stored on my computer. That being said, I was feeling the spring fever over the holidays so I took the time to do some “spring cleaning” on my files, pictures, and other things I have “collected” through the years.
I have the unfortunate habit of just saving things to my desktop, which is easy, but does nothing for a sense of organization. I created folders on my desktop that had generic titles but that would hold the types of files I seem to be always saving. These generically titled folders including things like data, teacher info, PLCs, and testing. As I am saving things I do my *best* to put them into these files. Other tips?
*** Have an external backup. I have learned from switching campuses and then districts, it was really important to have an external backup that could hold all of my professional files. I didn’t have time to go through and be choosy, I wanted it all. In case of a system crash or a problem transferring accounts, I feel much safer knowing all of my resources are backed up. I have it marked in my planner as a reminder, once a month to back up everything on my home PC and my work computer, just in case.
*** Where’s your cloud storage for working files? Do you use Google Drive? Do you use Dropbox? Is there a way for you to access what you need when you aren’t near your external drive? I am a big fan of Dropbox, but with so many districts embracing google apps for education, that also has become a viable source. Google Drive makes it easy to collaborate in real time, so the storage piece there is also handy. Whichever you choose, use it consistently.
*** Rename your files. Make it easy for you to remember, and search. I used to think everything needed a file folder and then everything should be in its place. But once I started naming my files very specifically, I learned it was a much quicker process to search for it by name then it was to find a file, and go through its subfolders. Instead of “math data”, I now would save it as “3rd grade math all teachers unit 4”. Again, I do still place my workable files in a generically titled file, but just searching for what I am looking for is MUCH easier.
*** Pictures and movies. My big kid is easy. All of our memories are printed out, and filed in a handy picture box. (or twelve.) In a closet. My little bit has her every moment recorded digitally. Very few of our pictures with her are printed out in a hard copy, but instead are stored in “my photos” on my mac. A very scary “safe place”. Each summer, I back up my entire photo library to Shutterfly. It takes an entire day to batch upload each and every one….but I at least know that they are all there. Thankfully, should something ever happen, I do a fair job of uploading my favorites to Instagram and Facebook as well. Bless her little digital footprint…
What tips and tricks do you have to maintain an organized digital system? I also have a plethora of other organizational ideas (that I’ll get to at some point) on Pinterest. I would love to hear what you do!