Getting Your Teacher To Do List Under Control

organization Jan 02, 2020
I'm the queen of lists and teacher to do lists. Don't even get me started!

Seriously, I really do LOVE lists and live my life by them. It's my go-to for staying organized - checklists, to do lists, grocery lists, lists of goals and so much more. I've got lists for all kinds of things. And while I might have mental lists, more often than not, mine are written down. As one of my besties tells her kids, "I have two brain cells left and one them is busy." Yup. that's exactly how I feel so many days. So, I write things down. But, a million notes and lists don't work. It's just too easy to lose track of it all. Trust me, I've tried THAT approach. 

This time of year, the Teacher To Do List can become overwhelming. There's so much to accomplish in what's left of the school year, and so many extra tasks get added to your teacher plate whether you want them or not. Add in all your personal tasks and goals, and it can be a recipe for disaster. That Teacher To Do List can become a mile...

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Advice for New Teachers

True story.

My very first year teaching, was a year of surprises, lots of learning and improvising. I had 34 kids in a 3/4 split that quickly turned into a straight 4th grade. The school was in a very poor, rough area of Los Angeles. I was in a mobile all alone at the furthest end of the school with no classroom phone (this was before cell phones). The teachers at the school were reserved and not exactly welcoming to a young teacher at first. I realized later, the teachers had stacked the class I was given as were regretting that just a bit. Oops.

About 2 weeks into school, I had assigned some reading to the class and they were to get busy while I started working with a small group of struggling readers. Within the first minute of that assignment I had a student pick up his desk, throw it and shout, "I'm NOT going to do this!" To say I wasn't prepared for this would be an understatement.  I stood in shock for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only seconds. Truly, I...

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How I Do My Summer Clutter Clean Out

organization Jul 04, 2019

I have to confess, I LOVE those TV shows where there's a transformation - new you, home redo, clutter cleanup. I'm completely obsessed with them. Just watching them is inspiring for me. I know... I'm a little weird.

Do you love a good transformation, too? I can't be the only teacher who loves that.

It took me awhile to realize why I love those shows so much. Clutter, both physical and emotional, is stressful to everyone whether we know it or not. I also know that physical clutter becomes mental clutter because it's like a visual to do list nagging at us. So, cleaning out physical and emotional clutter is always one of my MUST DOs every summer. Teaching is one of the few professions where there's an end each year and a fresh beginning the next. Let's take advantage of that. 

Are you with me? Here's my Clutter Buster Plan, just in case you're in.  ;)

Because I'm such an organization freak, here's a checklist: 

  • Make a list of all the areas you need to take care of...
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5 Teacher Organization Ideas to Reduce the Overwhelm

organization Jun 19, 2019

Even when it's summer, it's hard not to spend time thinking about school. Honestly, I think a teacher's mind is always thinking and planning for the next year. It's not that you don't relax, because you do (you both need it and deserve it). But, planning and dreaming of all the possibilities each year holds is part of the fun of teaching. 

That being said, this post is all about possibilities for just feeling like you're on top of things. I hope, you find something that excites you for the coming year.

Modern Peg Boards

This pegboard is super sturdy. Lean it against a wall on a table or counter or hang it on the wall. Rearrange the pegs and shelves. I can think of a million uses for "this little peggie" in the classroom from keeping your teacher desk space organized to a student supplies station. They come in all sizes or you can use several together. You could even make your own this summer.

You can purchase one from MadeModVB. (I'm not affiliated...

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What to Do Instead of Summer Homework and My End-of-Year Readiness Guide

This is the time of year where we're not only prepping for the end of school but thinking of what we'll do the same and differently next year. It's funny how those things are intricately tied together. 

I've got a few things for you for end-of-year, summer boosts and gathering all those thoughts and ideas for next year as well. Wow! That's a lot of stuff, right?! No worries, I'll make it as simple and easy as I can.

End of the School Year Organization

As we near the end of the year, it can be difficult to keep track of all the moving parts to get things wrapped up, packed up and ready for summer. Here's my [free] End-of-Year Checklist to help you with that. 

Summer Boosts

While you probably know I'm NOT a fan of summer homework, you might not know this bit. I'm a HUGE fan of sneaky ways to get kids learning and reading without even knowing it's the dreaded "practice" they want to avoid. So here's two items to help you support parents in this quest.

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How to Plan Class Parties Even When Parent Help is Scarce

organization Feb 09, 2019

Class parties are an important and fun part of school. Why do I say important? Well, they build community, help us connect with each other, give us (hopefully) fun, shared memories and create opportunities to take a short break and celebrate. You and your students work hard. Sometimes we need a bit of a break to reenergize us and give us perspective.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought I’d share a few tips for managing not only the party details, but the parents (and their) expectations that come with class parties. Let’s face it. Running your classroom is one thing, but add a roomful of parents into the mix and it’s a whole other ballgame. An organized, well-run party is not only more fun, but it’s a chance for parents to see and feel confident in your ability to manage the class. Don’t pass up this opportunity to build some good will and to shine.

Now, if you have fabulous room parent planning and running your class parties, this post is ...

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3 Simple Tricks to Make Your Teacher Life Easier

Sometimes the day to day in the classroom can get frustrating when we feel like we can’t get ahead or are repeating directions constantly. You know me, I’m all about organization and systems. So…here’s 3 tricks to make your teacher life a little bit easier.

Eliminate No Name Papers

Have highlighters (and pencils) next to you turn in bin. Train your students to highlight their name before they put their paper in the bin. this will eliminate 95% of no name papers. Sure a few will get through the cracks, but it will be the rare exception.

Help students learn to self-monitor their out of class time (bathroom trips).

Strategy: Allow student 1 free bathroom trip in the morning and one in the afternoon. In addition, students can go at recess and lunch as usual. Emergencies will happen, but there needs to be time made up for more trips unless there is a medical reason.

Tracking: Draw a line down horizontally across the middle of a sheet of paper. Write AM on the top...

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How to Create a Schedule That Makes Sense When Your Time Looks Different Each Day

organization scheduling Jan 10, 2019

The Scheduling Nightmare

Got a crazy schedule? You’re NOT alone! I can count on one hand the years I have had a class schedule that was the same each day of the week.

If your crazy schedule is getting you down, don’t despair. It’s really possible to have a calm, well-run classroom when your schedule is constantly changing.

Decide on Your Non-Negotiables

A couple of years ago I was working with a teacher who was stressed out about her crazy schedule. In an effort to start each subject at the same time each day, she had managed to cut her subject blocks into multiple pieces two days a week. By the time her students got in the groove for Language Arts on those days, they had to pick up and go to to specials. Then, they came back and finished up. It was hard for her to get solid time to teach small groups and difficult to get students back into the flow. Talk about stressed out! Once we made a solid Language Arts block non-negotiable, life got a lot calmer.


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How to Go From Classroom Setup to Maintaining Order

organization Aug 15, 2018

Once the school year gets going, some years I start to feel off kilter, out of sync.

Do you ever feel like everyone else seems to have it all together and you are playing catchup all the time? Yeah. That's the feeling. It's so easy to get there after the hustle and excitement of prepping for and starting a new school year. The hard part is getting back on track. 

As you head into your school year, it's easy to get derailed by the details and lose your way.

We spend tons of time getting our classrooms ready for students. By the time the first actual week of school ends, we often feel ready for a break. I know that sounds crazy, but you know what I mean. Think about how you feel after that first week - physically and emotionally drained. Right?! As the first month goes by, we can start to feel a bit scattered and overwhelmed (honeymoon is over). While it seems so early in the year to feel that way, the truth is reality and the details of classroom life have a habit of...

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How to Plan a Successful "Meet the Teacher" Event

organization teaching Aug 01, 2018

Meet the Teacher is such an important event for our students and their families. It's so easy to get busy and miss someone or have a family monopolize our time. As teachers, we want everyone to have a good experience.

How do we make Meet the Teacher an event that makes all of our students and their families feel welcome, seen and comfortable in their new classroom?

Some of the things I have ready for families and students at Meet the Teacher are:

A Plan for Everything

  1. Greet everyone at the door with a class list [check them off as they come in]. Hand each student a Meet the Teacher flyer and printed steps to complete in the room [a scavenger hunt, checklist or a map to follow]. Have a quick greeting ready that you'll say to everyone. This lets them know you are excited they came, get them on track and move them along.

  2. Have an exit line. You have to prepare for excusing yourself quickly from long, personal conversations and monopolizers. I like: "I don't want to take any more of...

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