Stop the Blizzard—Managing Student Paperwork

Paper management is one of the top causes of clutter and loss of time in any workplace. It takes over physical space on counters and desktops.


It takes over mental space as a haunting reminder of what hasn’t been finished. Using these suggestions will minimize the amount of effort needed to weather the storm and clear out papers quickly.

Collecting Work

Use the same location for turning paperwork—classwork and homework. For elementary classrooms have one location for students to turn in all papers. For junior high and high school classes have a tray or basket for each period. This keeps all papers in one place throughout the day.



Check in homework in the morning or at the beginning of class while they are doing board work. Go through classwork at the end of every day. Yes, every day, or it will get away from you/become unmanageable. Paper monster.

Homework. This is work to be done at home. It is extra practice, reinforcement, of what is taught in class. It allows parents to see what we are learning. Look it over to make sure it is done, spot check to make sure they put in legitimate effort, and give credit for its completion.

Do NOT correct it. You can’t control the environment it was done in. You can’t determine how much or what kind of assistance was given. Use class work as a more authentic way to evaluate students’ understanding of a concept.

Do not return homework. The work is done. Parents have already seen the assignment. It ends up in the trashcan so save everyone a trip and toss it once the credit has been recorded.


Classwork falls into three categories.

  • Work that is not competed so you save it for the next day (ex. essay, art project, test).
  • Work that is used for evaluation purposes. It is graded and used for formative (to determine next teaching steps) or summative (to determine mastery) purposes.
  • Work that was practice or filler. These items are tossed.

Did she just say tossed? Only work with that required substantial effort for an extended period of time like an art project, research project, or formal essay, is returned. Also any tests so students can see their progress.

Cardinal Rule of Paper Management—You do not have to keep or grade every assignment. Just because you giveth doesn’t mean you have to taketh back.

Streamlining the flow of papers throughout the day will save you time, space, and headache. Apply these suggestions and you to will survive the paper pile-up storm.

© The Uncluttered Teacher

If you would like more organizing tips check out my best selling book The Uncluttered Teacher.


Order the digital version of this book and see other products at ourstore at  Teachers Pay Teachers.