Being organised at work is an important part of teaching. With the amount of papers involved among the book pages, lesson plans, worksheets, flashcards, and everything in between, having some kind of organisation system is imperative.

Staying organised at the university in Malaysia was easy. I had one notebook for all my lesson plans, I taught one level (from a possible eight) for five weeks, one textbook (from a possible four), one lesson per day — sometimes two. It was easy to have everything carefully filed, labeled, and put away into a massive binder for future reference or recycling purposes. It was a good system and it worked beautifully.

Currently, I’m working with eighteen different textbooks, over fifty possible levels, and as many as three different lessons per day. I have yet to figure out an effective system.

My first mistake was not being organised from day one. I was overwhelmed with everything else so organisation took a back seat. Now, two months in, I’m picking up the pieces and sorting everything out. Unfortunately, the stationery section at the book store is hardly impressive, but at least it offers the basics — binders, sleeves (when they’re not sold out), envelopes, and sticky flags (albeit a small selection).

As previously mentioned, a lot of paper is involved in being a teacher. Too much paper. I’ve accumulated a significant amount after ten weeks, so I hate to imagine what level it will be at after a whole year if I’m to persist with my current lesson planning practices — copy the lesson pages, bring them home, plan, file.

I’m quite old-fashioned in many aspects and I often seem to forget that I live in the digital age where going paperless is encouraged and even convenient. I forget that I have gadgets at my disposal that would easily eliminate the need to use paper. So from next week, I’m doing exactly that. Wherever it’s possible to go paperless, I will.

At the end of a year, my previous binder was much too heavy for me to transport and it got left behind. I put a lot of work and effort into it and I’d rather have it here with me. I don’t want the same thing to happen to the current binder. At the end of my contract, I want it to travel with me to my next teaching job because it shows my work — all my lesson plans, materials I made, ideas I had. These things can be reused and doing so cuts down a lot of lesson planning time in the future.

The key word this (contract) year is organisation. I’ve always been pretty organised, but this calls for a new level of organisation because of the range of books and levels. It should be a pretty good challenge. I’ll keep you updated.