Today I spent a few hours organizing for next year — creating the appropriate folders and creating/updating mailing lists. The process is interesting, because I think that the way one organizes their desktop, or their mail folders, or anything, reveals a lot about the person. How they view their world, how they compartmentalize it.

For the following year, this is my email directory structure:

Clearly you can see that I save a lot of emails; I’m a packrat in the electronic world as well as the material world. I’m definitely a natural archiver, because I have no memory and I need things written down to refer to. But there’s another reason why archiving email is important: you have written proof that certain things got done.

“You never told us X,” a student or parent or dean or someone might say.
“Actually, I told you that! See this here?” I will respond.

(This actually happened last year, when a parent said they were never informed of their child’s poor performance; I had two archived emails that specifically were sent to inform the parents of that fact.)

Maybe this should be a meme. If you care too, share on your blog how you organize your school-related email? What do you save? Why do you save?

*This is a new addition! I read about it on some blog and thought it was a great idea.
**I did this last year, and it was super useful. Every email to and from a particular student gets put in their individual subfolder. Also every email about these students (communication with other teachers, with deans, with parents, with the SFJC) gets put in these folders. Then, when I need to pull up information on a student, I have not only my gradebook, but in this folder, a lot of other information about them. Sometimes, when writing my narrative comments on students, I would quote them if they said something relevant. (As my school is a laptop school, you can see that we get a lot of email to/from/about students.)



  1. Hm, how many students do you have? Somehow I don’t see setting up 120 folders, one for each kid. I just have a folder called Students0809 (for this year) where I dump everything. Then if I need to refer back to emails about a specific kid, I just run a search for their name and it pops up all the related emails. It works fine for me.

    Otherwise my folder structure doesn’t look much different from yours. I have a few additional ones, like “schedules”, where I throw things like music lesson and other schedules that tell me when kids are excused from class, and “professional development” where I keep correspondence related to workshops and the like.

  2. Oh, I have a lot, lot less. (Which makes it easier to deal with.) Last year I had about 50.

    But there was also ridiculous amounts of email, and I started throwing them in different folders based on the classes the students were in. Some students had 100+ email messages in their folders, by the end. (Others had only three or four.) But my school’s email program isn’t good for searching so I *had* to make separate folders.

    Maybe I should also say that the way one organizes their email folder says as much about the school as it does about the teacher, too.

  3. Hmm. I’m with Kate, I can’t see having a folder for each student. I do like your system though. Mine isn’t quite that organized: 0809_Students, MathTeam, StudentCouncil, Grad_School, everything else just stays in the inbox. Although I do archive quite often (low storage quotas).

    I really wish my school email account had the ability to add tags. Now that would be useful.

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