Staying Organized, Calm, and Punctual

Create a simple, portable teacher hub to organize your papers and your time.

By Rachel Wilser

As we start pick up steam and get back into our classroom routine after the holiday break, we can start to feel stressed and frazzled. Our curriculum is getting harder for kids, because we’ve been in school six months now.

There are lots of balls in the air — meetings, committees, data collection, and the like. It’s easy to feel like you’re being pulled in 100 different directions, but staying organized will help. Organized teachers are calm teachers, and sometimes in the frenzy of teaching it can be hard to stay calm and organized.

Does this scenario sound familiar? You check your mailbox, head back to your classroom, and drop the papers on your desk or table. You check your email and see that there’s a meeting coming up, but your calendar is somewhere else, so you write the meeting on a post-it, and stick it on a loose piece of paper. You remember you need to call a few parents after school, and write that on a separate sticky note. Now you need to pass out something to kids, but you can’t find it. THERE’S GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY!

You’re in luck! There is. AND I’m going to share it with you. Because I care about you.

The biggest and easiest change you can make to stay organized and calm is to create a teacher hub.

Say what? Let me tell you what this means: your teacher hub is portable (so something like a clipboard, or small binder), and has all your essential items on it. It should go everywhere with you. Literally everywhere. (Except the bathroom. Because who wants to take a clipboard to the bathroom??)

I took my clipboard everywhere with me. Have lunch duty? Take the clipboard. Walking the kids to art? Take the clipboard. Staff meeting? TAKE. THE. CLIPBOARD. If we’re being honest, it was a bit of a hard habit to pick up, but it was so helpful because everything was in one place, and I always had all the things I needed.

What did I keep on my teacher clipboard hub? So glad you asked. =) Here’s a (non-comprehensive) list.

  • attendance chart (We marked daily attendance in the AM, and I submitted it later.)
  • my weekly lesson plan chart
  • small group lesson plans
  • my weekly overview (this is a grid/calendar that shows meetings, special events, reminders, and the like)
  • grading chart
  • class list (I used this to mostly write down notes, and if any of our specials had a sub it was easy to leave with them for the period.)
  • conference grid (this was basically just a table that had all my students’ names and underneath each kids’ name it said “math, writing, reading,” and as I conferred with them, I would cross off the subject. It really helped me make sure I was seeing a wide range of kids in conferences.)
  • anything important I pulled out of my mailbox or got at a meeting and haven’t had a chance to file
  • a blank piece of paper, so I have a place to write down things that come up as I’m walking around school or talking to other teachers.

You might have more or less than this. During a data cycle, I would also have a checklist of all my kids and the assessments we needed to give, so I could see at a glance who needed what, and I wasn’t scrambling if someone walked in to offer help. You might also include a seating chart on your hub. I moved my kids around often, so that never felt helpful to me.

As you get back into your routines, I’d encourage you to give a teacher hub a try if you haven’t before. It’s a quick, tangible change that will help you feel (and actually be!) more organized! You’ll be on time to meetings, and you’ll have a place to keep all the pieces that come up during a day of teaching.

Rachel Wilser has spent the better part of a decade in classrooms around the country — in private, public, charter, elementary, and middle schools. Now, she chases twins and drinks coffee while planning her return to the classroom.

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