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I'm a terrible pack rat. You just never know when that stuff might come in handy! I've
found it helpful to put smaller things, which are always tumbling about, in the Xerox
paper boxes the office tosses out. Since they are made to come apart easily for
recycling, I hot-glue the flaps so they'll hold. The boxes are labeled and placed on
top of or in my cabinets.
Another thing that helps me is counter to what others have suggested. Instead of
individual student portfolios, I collect student work for each assignment and paper clip
them together. That way, if a student insists he turned something in, I can easily find
the whole stack for that assignment and go through it (sometimes I grade something and
forget to write it in my gradebook). The day before parent conferences, several
students are each in charge of a stack and will hand papers back to the students to
paper clip together as a "portfolio". If a parent wants to question a student's grade,
I can easily demonstrate how Johnny's stack is much _smaller_ than Susie's, or X's work
in comparison to Y's is not up to snuff. The parents can take the work home then.
Assign chores at the end of each class so it's not the same 4-5 students doing all the
cleaning. Anything not done well will be done by the same student the next day. Spend
about 20 minutes after school each day making sure everything's where it belongs, and
getting ready for the next day (i.e., setting aside the tools and materials in trays so
you can grab them easily).
Good luck. Don't overwhelm yourself with cleaning your whole room. Start with just one
corner or cabinet, or even a countertop, and you'll feel less intimidated.
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