Monday, March 19, 2018

Ten Cent Notebooks Keep Me Sane - Lists, lists, and more lists


At the beginning of the school year, Walmart sells their 70-page spiral notebooks for $0.10 and I purchase about 50 of them.  I figure at 10 cents a notebook, I'll find a use for them even if that use is giving them to my students.

I started this year very disorganized.  Between school, family, being a business owner (thank God for my partners), Sunday School teacher, and just life in general, my thoughts were always scattered.  I wasn't utilizing my prep period to full capacity and spent most of my time running around starting one project, then realizing there is a more important item I should be working on.

Here are some of the things I forgot to do on a regular basis:

  • filling out student behavior forms.  
  • checking my own children's homework.
  • grocery shopping.
  • getting materials together for Sunday School.
  • ordering certain items for the cafe.
  • unlocking assignments for the students. 


I really started to notice my disorganization during the block periods.  This year our school has adopted a fusion schedule where 3 days of the week we have traditional-length classes (45 minutes) and two days of the week are block-length classes (90 minutes).  On those block days I was bored, and so were the students, because I was neglecting to plan.  Fail to plan = plan to fail, as they say.  I was failing....and frustrated....and bored....

One day I was mentally running through my to-do list but it was so long that I couldn't remember it all.  That's when I went to my cabinet and grabbed one of my 50 notebooks, opened it to the first page and wrote "TO-DO" at the top.  Then I took a few minutes to write down everything that needed to get done at school. You know what?  By the end of the day the entire page was full of things.  Every. Single. Line.  But do you also know what?  I was able to finish most of it by the end of the day.  I even had an interesting lesson plan ready to go for the next time I had a block class.

But here is where the real change was....in my mental dialogue to myself.  Once I wrote down something I needed to do, it was as if my subconscious was given permission to "let it go".  My mind was no longer cluttered with mental to-do lists.  Every time throughout the day when I had a free minute, I would refer to my checklist and DO SOMETHING. 

Rereading this post I realize how obvious this sounds, but I'm hoping that it helps at least one other teacher.  Something as simple as writing down what you need to do can clear you mind to focus at the task on hand and be awesome!



2 comments:

  1. I've done the same thing, with the same level of detail. It's so satisfying to be able to cross tasks off the list as they're completed. And I agree, once you write it down, it frees up brain space because your subconscious isn't worrying about remembering it!

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  2. Interesting that you put it in this way. I use exactly the same language when asking students to write down their steps when doing math problems. Once you've written it down, you don't have to keep it all in your head, and your mind is freed up to do the deeper thinking and problem solving.

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