Break is almost over and the lesson plans and teaching are slowly creepy back into our minds. Every year I try to start the New Year (and school year…) off organized. Organization is a huge part of our job that can make or break your sanity. I teach in total chaos every single day– before, during, and after school. I need a tribe of resources to help me stay on top of things. Along the way, I’ve found 5 teacher organization strategies that help me manage the day-to-day workload of teaching. These tools help me stay sane, continue to support my time management, and help me beat teacher burnout. Although I am writing using my special education lens, all these organization tips and tools can be used no matter what you teach 🙂
First Monday of the Month Quick Review
I print off a monthly calendar and spent about 10 minutes at the beginning of the month putting in all the important meetings, deadlines, and responsibilities into this calendar. I tape it up on a wall near my desk to refer to it when planning meetings, managing my workload, and making outside of work commitments. It’s been so helpful in thinking about what I can take on and what I need to say no to… and even making commitments to students, friends, and family. Click here to download the calendar I use!
Pick a Data Day and STICK with it!
Special Education teachers take a lot of data when progress monitoring IEP goals. I learned this tip early on from my mentor teacher in graduate school: choose a consistent day of the week to take data and build it into your routine. I currently do every other Wednesday. *Mark it on the calendar!* It’s become so routine that I just glance at my monthly calendar and remember it’s important and I need to plan for it.
Monday Morning Week Quick Review
Just like I do at the beginning of the month, I go through my calendar and update what’s happening this week. This is the first thing I do to work on Monday mornings and it usually only takes me about 5 minutes. I find comfort in knowing exactly what’s expected of me so I can manage my time during the day, reschedule anything if needed, or take an IDEA day (or mental health day). To plan out my week, I use my Erin Condren desk calendar. It’s been life saving this year.
Self-created Check-lists for Times of Total Chaos
Sometimes I need visual reminders to keep me sane. A couple weeks ago when things were super crazy, I had two back to back IEP meetings that I was not prepared for. I had 30 minutes to get everything ready and pulled out my “IEP meeting checklist” that I created in the beginning of the year. It was literally check – check – oh crap – phew – check, copies, ready done! I made it. I only have self-made checklists for IEP meetings, but as a classroom teacher, having a check-list for parent teacher conferences, IEP meetings, PLCS, could be really helpful in focusing your brain during busy times. Click here for an editable version of my simple checklist!
Using OneNote for Data and Resources
If you’re not familiar with OneNote, it’s basically a tech version of a basic binder but WAY cooler! I use it to track data, writing down strategies that work for each student, any teacher concerns that are reported to me, the follow up, lesson ideas, team notes, everything and anything on OneNote! I love having all my resources in one place. You can even print word documents or powerpoints directly to OneNote. I don’t write anything on OneNote that I wouldn’t want the public to see- so keep that in mind if you decide to use it 🙂 This is how I currently have mine organized!
For more organization and planning tools, click here!
How do you stay organized? Let me know if you try any of these strategies! Can’t wait to hear from you.