Sunday, February 27, 2011

Confessions of a Scatter-Brained Teacher

Ask my students or anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I am extremely organized.  Unless you ask someone who has lived with me, like my husband or my college roommate.  And they will tell you that I am as absent-minded as they come.  I lose misplace things constantly.  I forget to complete tasks that I haven't written down.  If I bring my laptop home from school, I have to attach my keys to the laptop bag in order to avoid leaving without it the next morning.  Even then, I could end up at school with an empty laptop bag.  I forget names of people I know.  The list goes on.  It is a really unfortunate problem.

My hyper-organization is actually my attempt to compensate for my lack of proper brain activity. So here are a few things that help me function like a regular person:

A binder (or two) for each prep:  All the materials I have ever used and could possibly need are here, tabbed by unit.  This is an absolute essential, even if you have a regular brain.

Summaries:  At the end of each day, I type a quick summary of that day's lessons.  This information could be as little as a sentence or as much as a paragraph.  I tell what I did that day, and include a short reflection of what went well and what did not.  I summarize at the end of the unit as well, telling myself whether the unit was perfection or a gut remodel.  If you think you don't have enough time to do this yourself, I encourage you to try it for one unit.  It literally takes me about five minutes a day, and having the information available saves me ten times that when I teach the same unit the next year.  I teach three preps in the fall and add a fourth in the spring, so I do not have time to re-invent the wheel.  I'd love to start from scratch each year, but that just isn't feasible.  Having this information at my fingertips helps me isolate the areas to focus on for improvement in the future.

Folders:  Current -- holds everything from the binder for the unit we are currently working on. Next -- holds everything from the binder for the next unit.  That way, I can go ahead and read the summary and do some tweaking as I have time.  File -- at the end of each day, the materials for that day go in here.  Everything from this folder will go back in the binder at the end of the unit.  I have one set of these three folders for each course, and I keep them on my desk for easy access.

And all this is just the beginning . . .

1 comment:

  1. OMG, this is fantastic! Thank you for letting me draft off your thinking. :-)

    - Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)