When I first started teaching, I was overwhelmed with how one task seemed to keep climbing on top of another until it all became an out of control mess. I’d find myself just barely making deadlines and often not being able to find relevant documents when they were needed. It dawned on me that continuing in this way would only cause more stress, a lack of professionalism and ultimately would also affect how my colleagues perceived me.
I analysed how I could bring more order to the chaos and consequently attain a more satisfying teaching experience. Here are a few pointers that turned my life around.
1. Teacher Binder/Folder
Have your lesson plans, calendar, to do lists, student information forms and any other relevant documents handy in your binder. Have a portion to immediately put in random papers as they keep coming. For those brave teachers who dare to go paper free there is a great app that serves as an online binder – chalk.com.
Now that all the papers are in your binder, during your next break, put them in order and prioritise your tasks. This saves a lot of time and brings efficiency into your routine.
3. Backup Plan
The best of lesson plans can fall apart due to any number of reasons. In order to keep things on track, a well- organised teacher will pull out her plan B to salvage the situation. Actually, have a plan C and even D if it helps to keep you and your students on track.
4. Classroom organisation
Have a dedicated ‘nook and cranny’ for all the classroom stuff with labels. Acquaint the children early on with these places and task them with keeping things in an orderly manner. Pin up work for absent children in plain sight. A neat and organised classroom has a calming effect on both the teacher and students.
Use these magical chits for reminders, to print out little rubrics, motivational notes, as teaching aids and to pass messages to fellow teachers (Siri can lend a hand too). These should become your best friends.
6. Keep files organised on the computer
As you make worksheets, reports and assessments, etc., things may get out of hand and referring back becomes a daunting task. Make folders, sub folders and sub ‘sub’ folders to manage all your soft copies in an organised way.
7. Written approval
Make sure that you get it down ‘in writing’ whenever and wherever it matters. Documented proof for either giving or taking instructions is a big part of staying organised. It also helps in confirmations in case of any issues that may arise in the future.
8. Effective delegation
If you lead a team of teachers, then bringing out their very best work is your responsibility. The same applies to leading your students. Delegating responsibility accordingly not only gives excellent learning opportunities to those you lead, but cuts your work down as well.
9. Updating your portfolio
Sometimes years can go by before we need to change our place of employment. Keep updating your portfolio regularly with any milestones and achievements that you accomplish before it becomes too complicated later on.
Look for seasoned teachers who have mastered the art of organisation. Read blogs, sign up on educational forums, follow Twitter accounts and Pinterest boards for motivation, inspiration and tips.
When it comes to improving any skill set, there is always room for improvement. There is no doubt that an organised teacher is a more effective teacher.
By Rahima Jabeen
Rahima is a passionate teacher who hopes to make a difference. She conducts teacher training and uses her blog, Young Islamic Minds, to assist parents with their children’s education. Her Facebook page, Unleashing The Teacher Within, is aimed at motivating educators. Rahima also has a makeup review blog, Yet More Makeup.