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!
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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!
Finalist in the
Back to School Contest