Note: I began this post in May 2014.
I'm a creature of not only habit, but of organization and routine. My routines keep me sane. My goal each day is have less to worry about tomorrow. The problem is that no day is ever routine. Sure there are designated class periods to teach and prep, but there is always something that pops up to completely derail the plans I had. This typically happens every morning.
I get to work one hour before the students are released to class. I always have grand plans in that time to do something, like actually plan. (I think my ultimate goal is to actually be able to plan during my planning periods.) This hour before school is the ONLY time the entire day that I am the only inhabitant of my classroom. This is the ONLY time all day that my room is quiet. This is the ONLY time all day that I can work at maximum productivity, and yet there is ALWAYS something that keeps me from doing just that.
I am so extremely tired of this happening that I have devised a plan to combat this. It's very simple, but I am going to try it for a few weeks to see if it works. I've created a list of all the things that need to get done on a daily basis. I will check my list each day to make sure that I've completed everything on the list. Hopefully if I have, there will be no more surprises in the morning. Or at the very least, minimal surprises in the morning. (See my list here.)
First: I do not know how teachers taught without SMART Boards. (I'm also afraid to ask. Never mind that I didn't see a SMART Board until my senior year of high school.) Every morning after A period, I do two things. One - I print out 6-8 copies of the SMART Notebook notes for absent students. Two - I export a copy of the SMART Notebook file to a pdf format and upload the notes to my website. I usually forget the latter, so it has made my routines list.
Second: For each absent student in my Geometry class, I staple the notes and any worksheets passed out together and write the students' names on the packet. I place the packet in the designated period folder. Students that are routinely absent know to check this folder when they return. I'm lucky that most students that aren't routinely absent ask me for the work that they missed and I can direct them to the class folder. I'm even luckier that I have awesome students that will not only retrieve their work after they've been absent, but will pass out work to the other students that have been absent. In my Contemporary Math class, each student has their own folder to keep their work that stays in a bin in the classroom. I simply place the work that these students missed in their folder. I try to keep up with these tasks at the end of each class period. When I'm really on top of it, I will set aside extra copies of the handouts for each absent student and all I have to do is staple and file.
Third: At the end of my last period teaching Geometry, I place the extra homework worksheets in the folder system I created last summer. If students lose their worksheet, I direct them here to find an extra copy.
Fourth: Usually by G period the list of students placed in ISS for the next day is emailed. Since this is my study hall period, I put the ISS work together during this period. I run it down either at the end of the day or the next morning after I sign in.
Fifth: I always save the notebook files I need for the next day to my desktop. I keep EVERYTHING on my flash drive. I have everything backed up on my laptop. I do not have a hard drive, and I know that I need to get one eventually. I am terrified that one day I will forget my flash drive at home because I have to transport it back and forth to get work done. There was a morning where I had to stop driving and pull over because I thought I left my flash drive at home and needed to check. If the notebook files are on my work desktop and I do not have my flash drive, it will not be the end of the world, and I will be able to deal with it.
Sixth: After my last class, I take out the worksheets that I will need for the next day and keep them in the "Today" folder of my desk organizer. This prevents me from fighting to pull everything together the next morning when I have to stop and think about what I'm doing for the day.
Seventh: I update my homework board and the objective for the next day. This never comes out neat when I rush through it in the morning.
Eighth: I update my missing quizzes board. I keep a small dry erase board on my chalk board that lists the students that missed the last quiz and counts how many days they have to make it up. (Our school policy is 5.)
Ninth: I erase anything left on the chalkboard. It's not necessary, but I'm sure the custodian appreciates it when they come in to wash the board.
Tenth: I make sure that my desk is de-cluttered. I hate having a messy desk. The other plus side is that if there something major that I have to take care of in the morning, I leave it right on my desk so it gets my immediate attention.
Then I have a separate to do list for Fridays for the things that need to be done weekly.
First: Make copies. I prefer to do this Thursdays after school, but they definitely need to be done Friday afternoon at the latest. We all know what the copy room is like Monday morning.
Second: Update Instruction Planner. We use an online unit planning program. I try to update it weekly. I definitely fell behind after spring break this year, but before that I was doing great at keeping up.
Third: I update grades every Friday. Our school uses SchoolTool. It's our online grade brook, and it grants student and parent access to grades. I update it every Friday to keep the grades current. My students and their parents greatly appreciate the regular updates.
Fourth: I put together all of the work for the following week for students in OSS and on extended leaves of absence.
Fifth: I file any papers that have accumulated during the week.
Sixth: I organize the extra worksheets that have accumulated during the week. (This past year I held onto everything. Next year I am only keeping the extra worksheets that I intend to use again the following year.)
Seventh: Every other Friday I print and put together rosters for every class from SchoolTool. At the end of the two week period, I hole punch the rosters that have all of the grades on them, and put them in my grades binder.
Eighth: I add stamps to the board for the classes that earned them. (I will post about this at another time. This past year I started a class competition.)
Ninth: I clean my own marker board. I'm just worried about the painter's tape that I so carefully placed on the board being disturbed. Plus, I write out the homework assignment and objectives for the next Monday.
Currently: Now that it is July, I can say with absolute certainty that this had made my life so much easier. Establishing definite routines and keeping a list of them has been a lifesaver at the end of the year when things got hectic. Anytime I had a pocket of time to get small tasks done, I pulled out my to do list and checked it for anything that I could get done in the amount of time that I had. I will definitely be using this to do list again next year. (I actually laminated it so if I wanted to I could check off items as I completed them.)