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As I am getting ready to report back to school from the summer break, I began getting my thoughts, plans and paraphernalia ready. Besides teaching and keeping all of those necessary curriculum related items and student informational tasks organized, teachers have a lot of meetings, training and administrative tasks such as professional development to corral and retain. It is easy to start stacking up the paperwork associated into a huge pile that starts to resemble junk mail and then be overwhelmed when it is necessary to find one of those "important papers".

This year I have two added responsibilities: a team leader (department head), and a mentor for a big school district program/grant. 

Even without these two new responsibilities, keeping your meeting and administrative paperwork organized is a chore. In my state/district, we have a lengthy teacher evaluation process. Last year, it seemed that things came up unexpected and that throws everything in my life a kilter as I try to manage my many students, my personal life and then come up with a mountain of evidence that what I'm doing is reputable as far as my teaching practice is concerned. Also as a department head, I will need to organize and deliver the instructional information to my team. So, organization seems to be a key element for increasing my effectiveness and keeping my sanity.

So I thought this year, even before school started, I would try to tame those papers into one organizational notebook. Here is my process as I go along. I will obviously need to change this as the year unfolds, because there will be new tasks added!

Step 1: Lists and Calendars

The first thing I did was make a list based on the deconstruction of my "appraisal" notebook from last year and the already started pile of papers. 

Then I began listing what papers I'd already accumulated including the group from my last year's evidence.

Then I made the list into categories.

From this I prioritized to make the meetings I thought would happen the most and that had the most importance, putting those in front.

I pulled out my pocket tabs and made labels. I prefer the tabs that have pockets so that if I don't have a hole punch handy, I can put the information into the pocket until a later date. Also occasionally information comes in too small of a package - such as the book mark I've slipped (and paper-clipped) into the pocket.

I also put a zipper pouch with some supplies: highlighter, pens, pencils, glue stick, scissors, and sticky notes. 

Then I made a cover page and end title and slipped those into the notebook.

I am ready for the meetings that I will attend.


Step 2: Email Calendar Prompts

As an additional tip, in my school email account is a calendar/event planner option. This I find very helpful as I spend a lot of time on the computer during the school day. Our district takes attendance online, and we are also supposed to check our school email several times a day for important information.

I went through the calendar that was posted for the year and in my school email account, created an events calendar to organize meetings and events coming up. I will add to this calendar as the year progresses, for example-- faculty meetings and grading dates will be added as an event with a reminder in my email calendar. My email then will prompt me that this is coming up (actually in a very annoying manner!!) I can also use the attendance feature of this to email my department team about meetings and events.

I found this tool to be very helpful in remembering the multitude of events that clutter a teacher's life.

Step 3: Final Thoughts: Meta-cognition

I will be entering this instructable in a back to school contest,  but this wasn't my main motivation for creating the notebook. Especially as usually my instructables are fairly simple and practical without a lot of bells and whistles. A while back I came to the conclusion that I write these for me. They help me do something better, or easier  or enable me to think about what I'm doing (meta-cognition). If someone else benefits I am happy to share. 

So I thank instructables for enabling me to share, write, research and discover!
Nicely done, you know I used on of those pencil pouches in the front of my sub folder. I leave two dollars in cash in there with a note saying where the soda and candy is located and to please have one on me today as a thank you. :)
Nice! So very organized! Wish I could be that organized :)
This looks great! Super useful, and I'm glad that documenting it helps you engage in metacognition.
Thanks! I'm hoping it will be very useful and will make things easier for me to keep up with while I'm spinning all those plates in the air. <br>
This is really a great organizer! I am sure it will indeed benefit many people. Thanks for sharing and have a great day! <br>sunshiine
thanks my sunny beam of good cheer!
Aw that was sweet! Thanks! <br>Sunshiine

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Bio: I'm an artist, environmentalist, animal lover, gardener, recycling nut, a high school teacher, crafter, Mom, Christian and widow who reads a lot in between ... More »
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