5 Ways Hanging Files Will Help You Organize Your Classroom Like A Boss

FACT: Hanging file folders will save your sanity…or at least prolong it for an extra few minutes. There’s probably some kind of research-based evidence that supports this, but I haven’t been able to locate it on Google yet. Nonetheless, below I’ve explained 5 reasons why these folders, even the unloved dark green ones, will keep you sane and help you organize and manage your classroom like a boss.

You’ve set down your flair pen and flipped your hair like Beyoncé because you just claimed victory against the stack of ungraded student work. You graded all the things, so look at you being on top of it! But at this point you’ve only won the battle and not the war. Now you must distribute said graded work to your mini humans so it can be sent home.

In the past, I’ve struggled with how to do this efficiently. I didn’t have space for mailboxes and valuable time was lost when I distributed work to students one assignment at a time. I’ve never allowed students to distribute graded work due to confidentiality, so I couldn’t convince them to do the work for me either, even though they’re 100% willing to perform mundane teacher tasks with the enthusiasm of Barney the Dinosaur.

Thankfully I discovered that a filing system was both efficient and confidential. So here’s how you can win the war if you don’t have space for student mailboxes or are concerned that wondering eyes may peek at other’s work. Find a bin or crate that suits your space. Label each hanging file with a number and give each student his or her own number. I assign numbers based on students’ place on my roster. As I finish grading work and record the scores in my grade book, I sort the documents in the student’s file. When the time comes to send work home, I simply pull out all of the work in the file and place it in the student’s take home folder. Easy peezy lemon squeezey.

In my classroom, I use roster numbers to keep all the things organized, especially student work. I even assign a “Number Narrator” to call out numbers if we are distributing or turning in assignments or materials as a class. The “Number Narrator” calls out a number and performs some kind of movement. We can often be seen doing the Stanky Leg or the Dougie while turning in work. It’s rumored that I’ve even Dabbed once or twice, but it would’ve been against my own will…if it actually happened.

It happened.

This filing system pairs well with this management routine. As a student’s number is called, he or she would place the completed work in his or her file. This is helpful for you, the almighty instructional and grading master, because as you prepare to get your grading on, you can quickly cross check which mini human didn’t turn in their work. Then once your favorite task (sarcasm intended) has been fulfilled, simply place that puppy right back where you got it and totally eliminate the toting of piles on piles on piles back and forth from this desk to that desk to that bin…or however your grading nightmare usually transpires. Throughout the week, the mini humans can check their file for graded work or you can pass them out altogether like aforementioned.

This one is simple. I can’t stand the mess of makeup work scattered across an absent kid’s desk. I literally can’t even. If there’s a scale from one to even, I can’t. So instead, place the makeup work directly in a student’s file. When the mini human returns to school and asks, “What did I miss?” all the work you’ll have to do is the motioning of your finger in the direction of the makeup work file.

That’s a lie. You’ll probably need to speak and also maybe teach them some stuff too.

Two things in life are certain. The mini humans will use too much glue and someone will loose their math or reading center work. It’s astounding that the invention of the folder still has not prevented the common disappearance of classwork. The sudden growth of appendages on class handouts is exactly like Big Foot. No one has really ever seen it, but we all know it exists. Why else would papers disappear? Obviously that math warm-up grew legs and peaced out. So try this instead. As your groups finish a center or find a stopping point for the day, have them place the recording sheet in their file so it can easily be retrieved the next day. Everyone’s work is kept in the same place and then you can periodically check the progress of students’ work without having them turn it in. Quickly monitor their progress, check for understanding, etc., and place the work right back in the students’ files.

This year I removed my bulky teacher desk from my classroom to make more space for flexible seating. Bye Felicia. Buuuuut, I lost lots of storage and needed a way to store confidential student documents, like IEPS, 504s, report cards, parent notes, etc. If you don’t have filing cabinets or if you have limited storage space, this system is also an affordable and feasible substitute. The box fits on a shelf behind my desk away from common areas where my students typically work. #mindyourownbeeswax

As you prepare to set up your filing box, consider which style bin or crate works best for your space. Office supply stores and the Container Store often have a great selection of simple hanging file bins. If you want something with more spunk, home decor stores like HomeGoods and Marshalls often have adorable file boxes as well.

I purchased my bin and hanging file folders from Office Depot. The bin fits perfectly on my bookshelf and comes with a lid [insert overly excited emoji].

To purchase this bin, click HERE (not an affiliate link).

If these neon file folders bring your eyeballs as much joy as they do mine, click HERE (not an affiliate link).

To create the numbered tabs, simply print, cut, fold along the dotted line, and insert in the plastic tab.

Click the image below to grab the free hanging file labels and coordinating sticker labels. Editable templates are included so you can customize your labels for any purpose!

Now go get your filing on!














20 thoughts on “5 Ways Hanging Files Will Help You Organize Your Classroom Like A Boss

  1. Rachael says:

    Hi there! I love this organizing tip! Do you use the same hanging file box for all five purposes? Or do you keep a second box behind your desk with confidential documents and another on a table for students to turn in their work/hand graded work back? If I have 34 students, is your free label document editable to add more than 24?

  2. Kayla Melvin says:

    I am going to get me some neon folders and a hanging file crate after schoolvtoday! I love these ideas. While I have used the idea of filing graded work in the past… I’ve never thought of the other 4 ways. Thank You! Oh and I love your personality. You crack me up!!

  3. Bailey Riley says:

    This organizational tool also makes great storage & organization for your student’s writing portfolios. As your students publish writing pieces throughout the year, you can collect and store them in their folders!

  4. Marilyn says:

    Such a simple, yet genius idea! Thank you for your tips

    Any way to have the file editable? TPT? lol I would love to use these for other purposes 🙂

  5. Loren Hallmark says:

    Hello! I love your file idea! What would you recommend if I have two class periods? Would you assign two people the same number but have two folders under that number?

    • Amy Groesbeck says:

      You could either create two separate folders with duplicate numbers and somehow code the tabs so students can tell the difference. The labels could have the students’ names to avoid confusion too. Or you could color code the folders. One class could be one color and the other class another. If you have space, I’d just make two separate bins for each class. It would just depend on how you plan to use the file system. Hope this helps!!!

  6. Kristen says:

    I love this!! Could you share a picture of how you have the different bins set up in the classroom? I’m thinking of using the same bin for turning in, grading, and handing back work. I also teach 3rd grade and I want to use the most efficient way!!

  7. Maranda Hoffman says:

    Just bought these exact items and made my own set! I think I’ll use mine to organize graded work and to store take-home folders. Thanks for the tab template! 🙂

  8. Shawna says:

    Is the link for the numbers not available anymore? I downloaded them a couple years ago but now I can’t find my file.

Leave a Reply