I was in Wal-mart today, and school supplies are already out. As I was looking over the variety of daily planners, desktop calendars, personal whiteboards, I was wondering what is the most efficient way of keeping up with tasks, appointments, etc. I don't mean lesson plans--that's another issue. Is going electronic better--keeping everything in your phone, Blackberry, laptop? What method works for you?
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Our district has done away with paper gradebooks, and we use an online grading program for just about everything that used to go in a paper gradebook. Many teachers, though, still need to have a physical gradebook, so we generally print out sheets from the grading program and use those. We're supposed to take attendance every period on our laptops, but since so many of us teach in different classrooms, it often takes too much time to cart the laptop around, log in to the grading system (if we're in a part of the building that has a good wireless signal!), and record the attendance. I've found that I just need to have a paper backup.
The only modern I've incorporated is my laptop and cell phone. I guess I'm still old school in a lot of ways because I wouldn't know what to do with an ipod, mp3 player or blackberry. The simpler the better for me! As it is, my 17-year-old daughter had to show me how to set up my cell phone and she knows all the ins and out of my laptop, too! Welcome to the 21st century!
As far as organizing everything, it all goes into my teacher planning guide. It's my appointment book, lesson plan, and seating chart all in one. I make good use of highlighter markers and everything I get done gets highlighted. Then I can see at a glance what remains to be done for the next day.
Another handy thing I have is a rolling backback. Everything I need to take home goes into the backpack and everything that needs to go to school goes there as well. It's thorough, simple, and it works!
I'm old school, that's for sure. Not saying I will never transfer to the dark side of Blackberry Planning, but at the moment I'm saving my blackberry for pie. I keep everything, EVERYTHING, in a three-ring binder with sections: grades, parent contacts, attendance and grades, and seating charts. Of course, I always start off more organized than I end up. By May, I'm cursing my system, but I really don't think I could do anything else. I always carry a pencil case with my thumbdrive (which I wouldn't do without), highlighters, and cool colored pens for grading. Appointments I keep in my agenda book that I carry at all times. It's worked for years, so I can't see changing it up, at least not yet.
I use my plan book for engagements like guest speakers, meetings, PD, etc. and I double it with the electronic calendar that accompanies our Outlook email program. That way, I'll receive a reminder a day or two in advance and can be ready for changes since I don't always look at the lesson planner days in advance after I've filled in the plan for the week. It's nice to have the reminder since I am so often bogged down with individual student issues--drama, problems, or "I just need to talk" during my free time at school.
I tried the iPhone apps, and while I still love the device, it sure is easy to get overplugged in and spend more time trying to organize your teaching life than you actually save. So believe it or not I usually use an old fashioned desk calendar for most of the organizing of tasks, meetings, etc. I've got in boxes and out boxes, and I grade one of my five classes of homework/tests per weeknight and have most of my weekends free.
I keep everything on a 2-year calendar printed and distributed by Josten's (the yearbook, announcement, class ring people). It's the same size and shape as a notebook, so it fits easily into my pile of paperwork; it also allows me to include everything I need because the boxes are 2" x 2" or so. That's for the calendar aspect of organizing; for my daily organization I prefer a legal pad in a binder for list-making. Don't you just love new school supplies?!?!
When it comes to "to-do" lists, I'm still a fan of the assignment books I used in high school and college. I get a certain satisfaction out of physically checking off completed tasks.
On the other hand, I'm completely addicted to google calendar as a means of synchronizing my schedule with others in my family. GENIUS. Google thinks of everything.
I have a calendar that is desktop size, so that daily appts./meetings stay in my head. But what has really worked for me is using my laptop. Since I take it back and forth between home and school, I have a word doc that is essentially my ever-changing "to-do" list. This has been much more effective than the lists of paper I used to have; I can add and delete things as necessary, rank them w/asterisks for things I really need to do NOW, I can have a school section and a home section...and it is always with me. Works for me!
In my last job I was forced to update a calendar that was shared so my boss and other colleagues could see my engagements. I must admit I really resented that and found that using an old-fashioned diary was the best way, but I did get into it in the end. I just couldn't be bothered with the whole syncing calendars malarky and a diary doesn't run out of battery or lose charge...
I'm afraid I still use the old desk calendar that lays flat on the top of my desk. I fill in the date squares, sometimes until there is no more room for additional notes. It awaits me each morning and I toss the old one when a new month begins. I do most of my other planning and lesson prep on my PC and/or laptop, however.
As a teacher my life was pretty simple ... after all, classes/activities don't change all that much. I used my planning book to keep track of things.
As an administrator, life was a little more complicated. You can manage it all with an old-fashioned desk calendar, or use a tool you already have like Outlook. Google calendar is also a good program. I believe that these work on most phones, but it all depends on the phone you have.
I think any system will work if you stick with it --- just pick the one you are most comfortable with.
The first step to organize, happens in our mind, I think. Clarity in thinking also helps in prioritizing tasks. The methods that work for me are forming mental spaces were I arrange 'things to do' in one or two larger categories such as long term and short term goals. This would give me a global vision of tasks to fulfil within a specific time. Once I have a somewhat clear mental picture, then I write it down on to my laptop in the e-'post it' (comes with Windows 7).
To organized the things you wanted to do. Look on my considerations and see if one of it will help you:
a. Decide on what kind of material you always use that have an easy access on your eyes and hands
b. Use materials that you mastered or knows the advantage and disadvantages of using it
c. What do you like,a high-tech one or a simple one?
d. Try using the first equipment you wanted to use and evaluate if it helps you a lot. If not, try using another until you arrive a comfortable one
Haha, I'm a student but I know that i can stay well oraganised by microsoft onenote, its like an electronic diary and really helpful.. best of luck!
I have to admit, I get very excited when I see all the new school supplies set up in stores.
I am a bit old fashioned when it comes to my planner. I still use a paper one for the fact that I can easily jot down notes and use different colored pens to keep things organized.
Outlook - synced w/a Blackberry or iphone. Even though I have a blackberry and sync it w/Outlook, during times of a high level of activity I still write things down in a little notebook divided into sections.
I keep a large desk calander and I write EVERYTHING on it. A number in the corner of the date gives the sub a heads up to what page she should look in my lesson planner. Any meetings or due dates, any outings or classroom visits. I also write anything notable that happens during the school day ie; restraints, assaults, runaways(happens a lot in my classroom).
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