Thursday, September 19, 2013

Organizationally Challenged

Organization has never been my strong suit.  In the classroom, I would start the year off strong...everything had a place, and most of the time, I made sure things got back in those places.  I usually managed to keep things going until the end of the first grading period, and then things slowly fell apart.

As a coach, I have a smaller space but many more materials (my office/instructional space doubles as our book room) to keep organized.  If something is out of place in my office, the whole thing looks messy, so I have to make sure to put things away as soon as I'm finished with them.

I also have many different kinds of files to keep organized, and different people need access to different materials.  Last year my big accomplishment was taking our assessment wall digital, figuring out how to take the kinesthetic experience of moving cards on the wall and replicating it somehow.  I put our literacy data into a Google doc and put conditional formatting on certain data points, so that as teachers entered scores, the cell changed colors to indicate whether or not the student had met benchmarks.  I figured out how to organize my coaching notes and plans as well, going with the old school binder and dividers, a system I've decided to continue this year since I prefer to write my notes when I meet with teachers.  I find that when I'm typing my notes I tend not to look at the teacher as much.

My biggest challenge, though, is making sure I have everything I need when I'm out and about in classrooms.  Last year I would often find myself without an essential item... my calendar (I need a paper one for my professional life), pens, pencils, power cord, snack, laptop, etc.  I hated having to rush back to my office during the 3 minute passing period to get whatever it was I had forgotten.

In an effort to find out what other coaches do, I spent some time reading too many blogs.  Kind of like when I cruise Pinterest, reading some of these made me feel like a serious slacker.  So much chevron!  Personalized fonts!  Bright colors!  There's no way my blog would place in a beauty contest.  I did find some great ideas, though. One site, Ms. Houser:  Inspiring & Encouraging, gave me the idea of an "office in a bag."  I realized THAT'S what I needed.  A bag of some sort that I could keep packed with essentials.  I could simply grab it, slip my iPad or laptop in and head off to wherever it was in my building I needed to be.

So here it is:  MY "office in a bag"
Here's what's in it:

  • power cord
  • calendar
  • a folder with blank coaching conversation notetaking forms
  • a "to do" folder for when I have time to get some tasks finished
  • an "in box" for papers or materials I'm given at meetings that need to be filed
  • a pencil case with pens, pencils, and my stylus
  • a lip balm
  • a book
  • personalized Post-It notes for leaving quick notes for teachers
Of course, I had to buy myself a new Vera messenger bag to put it all in.  I tried using a tote I already had, but there weren't enough pockets, and it was deeper than it was wide, so I couldn't find things quickly.  I am happy to report that I bought a retired pattern, so I DID get a deal on it.  I love my messenger bag because it's the perfect size.  I can't stuff TOO much stuff in it, so it can't get as heavy as some of my other bags.

SO.... we'll see if my organizational changes will help me stay on top of things this year.

How do you keep yourself organized?