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Professional Development Organization: Managing the Overwhelming Paper Load

Organizing professional development notes can be a time consuming task. Use the tips from this article to help develop a teacher professional development system that works for your learning style from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

As education professionals, we attend a lot of professional development sessions each year and into our summers. With that comes a lot of paper clutter, and up until recently, I did not have a proper system for storing the information. But with a little professional development organization, I can now manage the paper clutter and keep track of my professional development notes.

When I first started teaching, I made a new paper file folder for each session and put all the handouts into the folders. I quickly learned that I had no place to store all of this information, and I would forget what each folder had inside of it. I needed a better system that worked for me.

Then, I tried just taking my own notes on the handouts they provided. That did not last for long as this became very messy and mixed in with the credits of the conference, etc. After these two failed methods, I tried a spiral-bound notebook and a digital method. I loved both of these methods. Read on to see which one would be a good fit for your personal style.

Professional Development Organization: How to Effectively Organize Professional Development Notes

The Paper Solution

I finally solved my paper dilemma by purchasing a really nice spiral-bound notebook with thick paper and reinforced sheets. The only downfall to this fabulous plan, when it came to professional development organization, was that I could be forgetful sometimes. Okay, all the time; thus, I ended up not bringing it to most workshops or in-services, making me revert back to my “messy notes on the handouts” method.

I love the spiral-bound notebook method as it contains all of my notes in one easy-to-access book, it is very portable, and I am able to reference my notes at any time. Best of all, this method is cheap. You can buy a nice notebook at the dollar store or at a discounted craft store and have a durable solution to all of your professional development organization dilemmas.

However, if you are forgetful, like me, read on. I found another, just as great, solution.

The Two-Fold Digital Solution to Professional Development Organization: Google Drive and Pinterest

I always have some form of technology, be it a smartphone, iPad, or laptop, on my these days. The harder I try to go unplugged, the more I seem to have them on me. I found that I had fewer and fewer papers and/or writing utensils available.

I thought I would start using Google Drive to keep track of my notes and stay on top of my professional development organization. I use my school board Google account to record and manage my notes. I created a folder called ‘Professional Development,’ and then each workshop gets a new document created and titled with the name and date of the workshop. Plus, a Google Drive account is free, so you don’t need to wait for your school to purchase one for you.


  • I can now access my files, copy and paste ideas, and share my notes with colleagues, all with the click of a mouse.
  • I use my devices to take photos of resources, ideas, and handouts during the presentations. I can then immediately paste these photos into the document to ensure I have them as a future reference.


  • The cons are very few for this method. For it to be effective, you have to have regular access to personal or school technology, as well as reliable WiFi.
  • With either of these methods, you have to be ruthless in taking good notes and recycling most of the handouts, keeping only the most important. Our classroom and home space are valuable, so let’s not use them up on paper storage.

What About Digital Ideas?

  • I love Pinterest. I use Pinterest to organize all the great ideas I find on blogs, teaching websites, and Google, and it is definitely a tool that can be used for professional development organization. You can create a different board for each subject you teach or each topic you cover. Then, you just have to glance at your specific board to find an idea that might spark a great lesson.
  • Some people use the app GoodNotes on their iPads to take notes and annotate.
  • You can also try and use Microsoft OneNote for note-taking and professional development organization.

Staying on top of professional development organization is relatively easy once you get the hang of it. It’s all a matter of getting into a routine when it comes to how you plan to take notes during professional development workshops and training and then sticking with that method.

Are you looking for more ideas and tips about organization? 

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0 thoughts on “Professional Development Organization: Managing the Overwhelming Paper Load”

  1. Love your tip! I have one of those re-usable shopping bags, into which I stuff my file folders for PD sessions. (For the latest session I attended, I invested a whole dollar in a pretty file folder pocket & used that!)

    Not the best organized, and certainly not using technology to my advantage! My plan is to get a lot of my mark book stuff "teched up" this year, and if that works, it's an easy extension to PD information too. Wish me luck!!

    Mme Aiello @ Teaching FSL

  2. I've been trying to find a way to do it too! I had a binder and dividers for handouts etc and a spiral – but now all notes are mixed up and binder is full.

    Thinking of a crate, file folders, and a sturdier spiral (and actually SEPARATING notes to tear out and file later.) HMM.

    Thanks for the ideas!

    Anisa @ Creative Undertakings

  3. In my "Together Teacher" notebook I have a section dedicated to PD. The papers in that section are divided into four areas: Thinking notes, immediate next steps for my classroom, long-term ideas, and questions. If the session is truly meaningful, I will type the notes into an app called Notability which backs up into my Google drive. I have been using this system for three years now and it is pretty efficient.


  4. I started using this wonderful new notebook called the Rocket. You take notes using a Pilot pen, scan the page with an app for your phone that sends the notes to digital files you designate. The best part is that you can put the notebook into the microwave to erase all of the pages. Its wonderful because it combines old school notetaking with 21st century technology!!! I highly recommend this notebook!!!

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