Organization: Why YOU Will Have More Time This Year
From homework collection and vocabulary words to emails and parent communication, you are probably realizing that you could use a little help with organization as the school year gets going. Read on for some ways that I set myself up for a successful school year.
Let's start at the beginning of each day. This is when I collect notes, money, homework, late work, and other miscellaneous items. I have the students help me by sorting these items by priority as they turn them in.
Priority #1: I have a tray on my desk for notes from home, forms for the office, all money, and anything else I need to look at first thing in the morning. I specify to the parents that all money needs to be in an envelope or Ziploc baggie with the name, amount, and purpose.
I like to have a clean in-box. If the number of messages in my in-box reaches the bottom of the screen, I know it is time to do some serious organizing or communicating. I create several folders for storing mail. The photo below shows the basic structure of my email folders. As you can see, the main categories for the 2011–2012 folder are Memos, Parent Emails, and Student Emails.
I save almost every email from parents — just in case! You will notice in the photo above that I have parent communication broken down into three categories:
- Positive: This folder houses any positive comments about the class. This is nice to scroll through when you are having a bad day. It is a good source of quotes if you are applying for jobs or transfers. It also keeps a nice record of things you do well should you ever need that data. Example: Johnny loves the music you play in class and enthusiastically talks about the day when he arrives home.
- Negative: This folder contains any complaints or comments that may evolve into a situation. I don't recommend reading these emails regularly; however, it is nice to have a folder that sequesters these in one place. Example: I feel it is unreasonable that you ask Johnny to keep his eyes on his own paper during a test.
- Neutral: This folder is for all the miscellaneous information. Example: Johnny will be out of school next Thursday. Could you get his homework ready in advance?
In addition to the digital folders, I have a manila folder for each student. In these, I file pictures they have created for me, notes from home, common assessments, and copies of work samples. On the inside cover of the folder, I document any phone call attempts (successful or not) and write a brief summary of the conversation.
Classroom Vocabulary Words
To cement information in the mind, the brain needs to review information ten minutes, 24 hours, and seven days after the initial exposure to that new information. As part of our morning routine, we review important words or concepts using the word wall. Because the word wall is so effective, I devote a significant amount of classroom space to it. The vocabulary words are color coded by subject and reviewed daily. We also play the Word Wall game at the end of the week.
At the beginning of the year it is important to organize your life to contain a nice balance of home and work. Getting to school early and staying late each night is not a healthy balance. Pick one or two days to consistently go in early. Pick a few days to stay later. Reserve one of the weekend days for NOT thinking about lessons. This will keep your perspective fresh. If you are consistent with your stay-late days, then the important people in your life will hopefully adapt to your schedule when possible. Consistency and routine will help you achieve a balance.
What is your favorite organizational system or tool?
Excelling without excuses,