Sunday, August 9, 2015

My Fall Start-Up Checklists to Get Ready for School!

Well, it's August, the month we kinda hate to see coming if we are K-12 teachers. I don't know about most of you, but I report back really early this year--this Wednesday August 12th. We have five (five!) teacher "work" days, also known as teacher MEETING days since they always take up at least 50% of your time with meetings, trainings, and anything but your actual work of setting up your classroom and getting ready to teach. Let's see, technically my work day is 7.5 hours at my current school, so I have 37.5 hours' worth of teacher "work" days, and let me look at the welcome-back letter and do some math...19 hours of meetings, trainings, and school obligations on the schedule, which doesn't include department meetings, PLC meetings, and all the make-work stuff you know will come out of the district trainings and meetings. Like log on to this or that new/changed software program and enter a bunch of data or what-have-you.

Anyway. My point is, I have learned to manage my time with a couple of checklists at the beginning of school. I save the second (longer) one as a Word document and then every year I update it quickly, delete and add a few things, print it out, and literally keep it within hand's reach so that every time I get a moment or two in my room, I know exactly what I'm supposed to be working on to get ready for the first day of class. I don't know about you, but without a checklist I can fall victim to kind of wandering around puttering in my room not really accomplishing much and rather confused about where I left off and what I was doing before the last meeting or interruption (because let's face it, you're going to spend another good 25% of your teacher work days chatting, socializing, and getting caught up with colleagues. Which is also an important part of the job, not to be neglected!)

Checklist #1, Things to Be Done BEFORE Teacher Work Days Unless You Want to Feel Very Behind and Stressed:

1. Go in to your classroom and spend 2-3 hours setting it up.

Tidying, arranging furniture, cleaning out old papers if you didn't do that in May (you DO have an End-Of-Year checklist, don't you? If not, I'll share mine in another post,) going through your supplies to see what you need (red pens, paperclips, stuff like that,) hooking up your electronic equipment (laptop, projector, document camera, etc.) and making sure everything works. You know, all the things that you'll sit in those meetings thinking about and wishing you could be in your room doing. If you go when no one's in the building but the custodial staff, 2-3 hours can be VERY productive, and I always thank myself later a million times over when I'm sitting through the trainings and meetings and socializing sessions.

2. Create and/or update syllabi (1-2 hours)

This is especially vital if you have multiple preps. Have the syllabi in a manila folder ready to copy on the first day of teacher work days, before the copiers break and you're biting your nails hoping you have something to do in front of your students on the first day of class besides tap-dance and ventriloquy.

3. Lesson Plan for the first three to five days and have all your masters ready to copy (2-6 hours)

I know, groan, and after not doing lesson plans all summer it feels like pulling teeth to figure out a few days of lessons and get masters ready, but trust me, if you do it, you'll be sitting back with a big smile on your face during teacher work days knowing you're way ahead of the game.

Checklist #2, Things To Do During Teacher Work Days 

(This is my actual list - yours may greatly vary depending upon your specific school/district situation. Also, I'll be adding to this list once work days start and I see what else I'm expected to do. This is the one I keep at hand constantly so I know what I'm doing when I get a moment in my room.)

¾  Reorganize/clean out filing cabinets (if not done in May)
¾  Set up files for Fall 2015 (Student Work, Late Work, Attendance)
¾  Check/update bulletin boards and walls
¾  Make Seating Charts & Print
¾  Lesson Plans for FD (first day) complete/copies made or turned in
¾  Lesson Plans for first week complete/copies made or turned in
¾  Finalize decorating/organizing/setting up handouts for FD
¾  Check/clean out email/update agenda & calendar
¾  Set up gradebook and enter first assignment(s)
¾  Organize/clean out props & visuals (if not done in May)
¾  Email dept chair my syllabi/expectations
¾  Emergency sub plan to front office/set up in back of room
¾  Put together AP study packets and copy
¾  Look up plans (IEPs, ILPs, etc.) in Alpine
¾  Choose Giga Lab dates for AP and request them
¾  Check if I have enough credit for salary increase/request if so
¾  Courtesy Fund donation
¾  Self-eval in Bloomboard
¾  Teacher Website – get something started on each class page and syllabi attached

Whew. That's a long checklist, which is why I have the other one for before work days start.

When do you guys start work, how many work days do you have this year, and what tips do you have for surviving the craziness???

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