Keeping Organized as a Teacher

August 27, 2007 at 5:42 pm (all, blogging, children, classroom management, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, kids, Middle School, Parents, principals, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, Uncategorized)

Weekly Tip: Your Calendar is Your Friend

Do you ever feel as though you have too much to do and not enough time to get it all done? The school year always brings with it a pile of meetings, memos, to do lists, appointments, and a large pile of tasks to be accomplished. How many times does someone drop a meeting date and time on you out of nowhere? It is a supreme act of juggling to keep up with it all. What we need is a tool to help us keep track of all those balls in the air.

That tool is the calendar and To Do List. Keeping a calendar religiously is a way to stay on top of the chaos. Outlook is a great calendar tool. Look at all the uses:

  • Invite attendees who are notified via email of any meeting scheduled.

  • Task Pane keeps track of To Do items. (such as filling out special education paperwork on a student)

  • Prioritize tasks and set due dates for each. (Add a due date for the task “Johnny Spec Ed Paperwork” and set as High Priority )

  • Set a reminder time – Outlook will remind you as far in advance as you need it to

  • Print the week or month to carry with you. If you have a teacher binder, that you keep with you at all times, put the print-out in there.

If you don’t have easy access to a computer, then you want to get a portable calendar. Whether a print-out or a day-timer type calendar, keep it with you at all times. That way when you are given a random task or appointment in the middle of the hallway on your way to lunch, you can write it down on your calendar.

Write down all district and school holidays, meetings, and other events on your calendar. Keep it with you and refer to it when planning lessons. That way you’ll be sure not to plan an important lesson on a holiday or on a day when the choir is taking their field trip. Having these dates and appointments scheduled in your calendar in advance will also help you to plan future events and meetings. There is nothing worse than scheduling an appointment only to find that there is already a district meeting you totally forgot.

  • Your calendar should be your best friend. This is not the easiest habit to get into, but like anything else, you have to take it one day at a time.

  • Make it a priority in your work and personal life.

  • Keep track of all appointments and important days for both work and home on the same calendar so that you aren’t confused by two different sets of information.

  • Remember to check your calendar before agreeing to any kind of appointment or event.

Another helpful tool is the To Do List. Take a legal size yellow pad and break it into sections. One section is titled “Work,” one section is titled “Home,” and one section is titled “Errands.” Under each section list the tasks that need to completed during the week. These tasks may include filling out paperwork, planning lessons, grading journals, doing laundry, paying bills, taking the dog to the vet, going to the grocery store, getting hair cut, etc. Each task is placed under the section where it belongs.

Now, at a glance, you can easily see what needs to be done for each part of your busy life. As you complete tasks, cross them off the list. Try to spend an equal amount of time on each section. That way you’re not only doing work and allowing home tasks, such as laundry, to suffer. On Sunday make a new list transferring all of the uncompleted items to the new list and add anything else that needs to be done that week.

Between these two tools you can easily juggle all of the different elements that make up your life. The key is keeping them close to you and staying in the habit of using them. Even after using them for just a couple of weeks you’ll notice quite the difference. I find that I don’t forget as many tasks and that I stay on top of my various lists so that no part of my life gets too far out of control. It keeps me organized so I don’t feel as overwhelmed. I don’t know about you, but when I feel overwhelmed I procrastinate and my list just keeps getting bigger. Perhaps this strategy will work for you the same way. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing YOU are in charge of your time rather than running behind it.


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