By this time, about the second week of school, you are probably beginning to accumulate papers, notebook or journal entries, memos from different offices or departments, and data that needs to be entered into the computer, such as grades and student information (special education, language learners, etc.).
As a teacher it was difficult to know what to do first. I would arrive at my classroom, sit down, log on, and immediately there were ten emails from ten different people needing something ASAP. It helps to create a system to keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
I’m a “stack” person. Some people are “file” people, and still others are “pin it” people. Whatever you prefer, create stacks, files, or pinned stacks of items that need your attention. I had my students turn in papers in one basket, and during my conference period or down time, I would sort the papers into individual assignments or class periods before beginning to grade them.
I had a certain place on my desk where I would keep things that needed to go to the office such as signed papers, things to put in the mail, papers that needed signatures, and assignments for other teachers or in-school-suspension. Keeping this stack made it easy for me to just grab it and go when I went to the office. I actually kept these things in a cute folder that was not easily lost in desk clutter.
Things that only needed my attention once a week were designated a certain day when I would make sure they got done. For example, when I was responsible for creating lessons for all of the elective courses for all the high school students in the discipline alternative school, I designated Thursdays as the day that I would work on those for the next week. Starting on Thursday usually ensured that they would be done and ready for the students by Friday afternoon for the next week.
There is never enough time during one’s conference period to get everything done. How did that time get the title of “off period,” anyway? If anything I was busier during that time than almost any other time of the day! I always kept a running list of things I needed to get done during my conference period so that no time would be wasted when the time came. I tried to multi-task as much as possible, and I worked with other teachers who taught the same subject as I did so that sometimes we could share duties such as running copies and setting up science labs.
There was something I always made sure I did no matter how late in the afternoon it was getting (unless I had to pick up children, of course). I always cleared my desk, or at least made neat stacks of what was there. Leaving your desk in chaos means you greet the next day with chaos. It’s like getting up to dirty dishes in the sink. It just starts the day off wrong! A clean desk greeting you first thing is like starting with a clean slate, and we all need that in the mornings!
Being a teacher requires so much more than just being able to share information with students. A major requirement is the ability to organize and make the most of limited resources, including time.
Establishing some kind of routine for yourself will simplify your life a bit, allowing you to be your best in a very demanding, but also very rewarding profession.
What are some of your routines as a teacher?