To start, I just want you to know that I wanted to title this post “How to Start the Year Organized and Whelmed”, but I didn’t really think that everyone would appreciate my joke.
As we start organized and setting up classrooms, attending back to school PD, and labeling everything under the sun, it’s important to take a few minutes to establish our own routines as teachers. Organized teachers are calm teachers, but sometimes in the frenzy of back to school it can be hard to stay calm and organized.
Does this scenario sound familiar? You check your mailbox, head back to your classroom, and drop the papers on your desk//table. You check your email and see that there’s a meeting coming up, but your calendar is somewhere else, so you write the meeting on a post-it, and stick it on a loose piece of paper. You remember you need to call a few parents after school, and write that on a separate sticky note. Now you need to pass out something to kids, and you can’t find it. THERE’S GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY!
You’re in luck! There is. AND I’m going to share it with you. Because I care about you. The biggest and easiest change you can make to stay organized and calm is to create a teacher hub. Say what? Let me tell you what this means: your teacher hub is portable (so like a clipboard, or small binder), and has all your essential items on it. It should go everywhere with you. Literally everywhere. (Except the bathroom. Because who wants to take a clipboard to the bathroom??) I used a clipboard like this and just took it everywhere with me. Have lunch duty? Take the clipboard. Walking the kids to art? Take the clipboard. Staff meeting? Take the clipboard. If we’re being honest, it was a bit of a hard habit to pick up, but it was so helpful because everything was in one place.
What did I keep on my teacher clipboard hub? So glad you asked. =) Here’s a (non-comprehensive) list.
- attendance chart (We marked daily attendance in the AM, and I submitted it later.)
- my weekly lesson plan chart
- small group lesson plans
- my weekly overview (which shows meetings, special events, reminders, etc.)
- grading chart
- class list (I used this to mostly write down notes, and if any of our specials had a sub it was easy to leave with them for the period.)
- conference grid (this was basically just a table that had all my students’ names and underneath each kids’ name it said “math, writing, reading”, and as I conferred with them I would cross off the subject. It really helped me make sure I was seeing a wide range of kids in conferences.)
- anything important I pulled out of my mailbox or got at a meeting and haven’t had a chance to file
- a blank piece of paper, so I have a place to write down things that come up as I’m walking around school//talking to other teachers.
You might have more or less than this. During a data cycle, I would also have a checklist of all my kids and the assessments we needed to give, so I could see at a glance who needed what, and I wasn’t scrambling if someone walked in to offer help. You might also include a seating chart on your hub. I moved my kids around often, so that never felt helpful to me.
As you head back to school, I’d encourage you to give a teacher hub a try if you haven’t before. It’s a quick, tangible change that will help you feel (and actually be!) more organized!
May your coffee be strong, and your PD useful!