The current economic conditions have created the need for me to substitute teach, but I am actually having a great time! I keep getting long term situations where I really get to know the kids and really get to experience real teaching. I just spent the last week in second grade and the kids were just so sweet! I did however, walk into quite an organizational mess, which I of course, took upon myself to sort out.
There had been another substitute for the previous two weeks. The desk and teaching table were piled high with junk mail, notes from parents, corrected papers, uncorrected papers, and long notes from the previous sub and the teacher in no specific order. I spent most of the first morning sorting all of this out, I got some folders from another teacher and just put like items together - a basic organizing strategy.
There was no way to decipher from the previous substitute's notes where the kids had left off and there were no lesson plans as the regular teacher was really sick, so I simply asked the other two teachers on the team where to go next and we were off. After school, I corrected the six inch tall pile of homework left by the previous sub and filed them in the kids' take home folders.
I was there for a week. When I left, I pulled out all of the teachers editions and put post its where the returning teacher would likely continue, I left a one paragraph note and a grid that showed exactly what we did, when. So now, all of her systems were back in place. She could just walk in and teach without reading a long note from me or looking for things.
That's keeping things simple. It's not hard. Folders are a great way to organize a messy desk. You don't have to decide what to do with everything, but at least then you can find something if you need it. And, short concise communication is always best in any business. It's difficult to get important facts from a long narrative. A chart or list is always easier for the reader.
So be a filer, not a piler and keep it simple!