I kinda have an embarrassing announcement. I can't believe it's taken me so long to figure this out. For the first two years of my teaching career, I had a single turn in tray for all of my classes. This made grading miserable. I had to sort all of my papers into piles before I could start grading. Why I put up with this for two years, I don't know.
I was frustrated. My students were especially frustrated when they went to retrieve work back out of the tray and had to dig through stacks of papers to find theirs. It was messy. It was disorganized. It got the job done, but it didn't do it well. At all.
This year, I gave each class its own try to turn their papers into. Nothing fancy. Just a set of trays and mini post-it notes to label them.
I guess this post is a reminder to myself to never go back. Separate turn-in trays for each class period are definitely the way to go.
Tweaks for Next Year:
Better Tray Labeling System - My afternoon classes struggled with whether they should use the tray above or below their post-it note. Next year, I'll put arrows on the labels. I'll also hopefully come up with some prettier/fancier/more durable labels than just post-it notes.
Change Location of Turn -In Tray - When I had only a single turn-in tray, it lived on my desk. I definitely didn't want a stack of 7 trays on my desk. So, I set them on top of a cabinet in the corner. Because of the daily migration of desks toward the wall, it soon became the case that there was always a desk pushed in front of this cabinet. The student sitting in front of the turn-in trays got very agitated when people were constantly leaning over their desk to turn in their papers. It definitely needs a new home for next year!
Unfinished Tray - Sometimes I had trouble differentiating between papers/quizzes that were turned in unfinished on purpose and papers of students who intended to come back and finish them. I tried having students write unfinished on papers, but they were less than consistent. Next year, I want to make a special tray for unfinished papers that the students plan on returning to complete. This will save my sanity and theirs!