Conquer the Clutter: How My IEP Cabinet Got a Full On Makeover


You know it as well as I do, keeping organized in a Special Education classroom can be a disaster. Case managing involves keeping IEPs, student work samples, student data, parent communication, and so much more! There is so much paperwork that finding a functional way to keep paperwork is not only a life saver, but a time saver in your classroom.

First disclaimer, I have been described as a Type A organizational nerd. Yes, my color coded file cabinet makes me happy. Yes, it is functional in my classroom. Is it for everyone, probably not.

So over a year ago I shared the amazing makeover I gave to my IEP cabinet on instagram. This post still gets likes today so I thought I'd share with you how I set up my functional (and gorgeous) IEP cabinet.

Second disclaimer, I got around 2,000 hanging files donated to my classroom over a year ago. Being that my personality is somewhere on the fine line between collector and hoarder, I couldn't let them go because "someday" I was going to need file folders and I'd be upset that I had thrown these away. When these were donated they came in a variety of colors and styles and I immediate thought of my color coding system in my classroom and knew I could use the file folders to easily color code student files.

A little quick information on my classroom color coding system: when a student enters my classroom they are assigned a color and EVERYTHING for that student is coded in that color. Their schedule, yup. Their flash cards, yup. Their student files, now they are!

So getting a donation of beautifully colored file folders was my inspiration to make my student file cabinet color coded just like the rest of my classroom. I quickly sat down and thought about the files I hold onto for students and realized I was going to need 5 file folders per student. I quickly searched through my piles of file folders and found 5 in each assigned color.

Then I made labels to put in the folders to collect items throughout the year. The 5 tabs I filed information under were:
  1. Current IEP
  2. Past IEP
  3. Student Data
  4. Parent Communication
  5. Open House
And there you have it...

At the time, I also made student name tabs, but in the past year, I haven't replaced the tabs with new students names because I realized I do not need them. The color coding of the file cabinet helps me quickly go to a specific student's files and pull exactly what I need when it is needed.

Throughout the year as IEPs are held and new data is collected I can quickly locate the student's classroom color, deposit the paperwork into the correct folder and know that it is safely stored in the event that it is needed. It has been so helpful to be able to pull out paperwork from past years to share with therapists who are new to our campus and share quick work samples with other teachers or parents without having to dig through piles of papers. And, seriously, doesn't that color coordinated drawer make your heart happy in a special way? I know it does for mine.

Do you have a system for keeping all that paperwork organized? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

5 comments

  1. I am like u and love to organize by color. But i went to.student notebooks that have pocket tab sheets with all of this including overall student info, RR paperwork and paper to keep notes from meetings on that student. I also keep a checkist for overall prepping for meetings and a checklist on info for legally defensible IEPs that we got from our boss to check off. Now I just grab the notebook when I need to prep or for a meeting and everything is organized and ready to.go

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    Replies
    1. I also keep the majority of our working data in tabbed binders for my students. It's a lot easier to locate what I need, but when those binders start getting a little full I move documents into my file cabinet.

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  2. I am like u and love to organize by color. But i went to.student notebooks that have pocket tab sheets with all of this including overall student info, RR paperwork and paper to keep notes from meetings on that student. I also keep a checkist for overall prepping for meetings and a checklist on info for legally defensible IEPs that we got from our boss to check off. Now I just grab the notebook when I need to prep or for a meeting and everything is organized and ready to.go

    ReplyDelete
  3. New teacher here. Before I ask my question, I have a disclaimer: I am currently going through TONS of "stuff" the previous teacher left behind and I am overwhelmed. The previous teacher loved files (I have THREE filing cabinets full of so much paper, I am not sure what to do it with it all) and binders. Each student had multiple binders of the same information for some unknown reason. I am working with my SPED Director and Principal on the best way to organize but wonder a couple things. How many students on your case load? (I have 25). How do you color-code (one of my LOVE languages) for that many? Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jeanell,

      I have 9 students on my caseload. If I had a caseload of 25 I would either color code by grade level (K is red, 1st is blue, 2nd is green) or color code within the grade level. For example I would house all Kinder files together and each student on my Kinder load would be a different color (Johnny is red, Kevin is blue, Sarah is green). If I went that route I would either make sure I clearly divide my file cabinet or give each grade level a different drawer.

      Paperwork is one of the hardest pieces to manage in your first year. Once you have a system that works of you it will really be such a benefit. I love having one less thing I need to worry about.

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