An Easy Way to Remember Little Tasks

In a classroom full of kids and commotion, it’s easy to forget small but essential tasks. Here is a quick way to get organized.

I learned this tip from a school secretary, who could always remember to pass on messages, look up the answers to questions, and tackle tasks small and large. Her secret? A steno book.

A steno (stenography) book is used to take shorthand. It’s a small notebook with spiral binding at the top and lined paper with a line running down the middle of the page. Click here to order them for a good price at Amazon.

The steno book is  the best place to keep a to-do-list because of the spiral binding and nice weight to the paper. I keep my steno book on my desk by the computer so it’s easy to stay on task and prioritize.

Use your steno book to record little things you need to do. Examples:

Call Josie’s mom about chaperoning the field trip

Fill out paperwork for the speech pathologist

Print worksheets for Friday’s science lesson

Gather materials for afternoon committee meeting

Organize construction paper drawer

Gather manipulatives for math lesson

…and so on. All those tiny tasks!

This system started working for me right away. I don’t know how I taught without it. Now I use this system both at home and at school.

SUPER TIP: The steno pad became management magic when I started having the kids write on it, too. Individual requests, like “please print a new permission slip for Bryce” are so easy to forget. If a student has a specific request, I ask them to write it on my list. Then I can continue teaching and the child can go back to learning, secure in the knowledge that I will honor his request. (Students are not allowed to write on my list without my permission, though.)

An unexpected benefit accrued when students realized that my steno pad list was so successful. Some students started their own to-d0 lists and excitedly told me how it helped them remember little things that used to cause problems. Other students would look at my list when they had unexpected free time, and sometimes they did some of the tasks for me.  Third graders love to organize books, shelves, papers — especially when they have  a friend helping, too.

The steno pad to-do list helps you prioritize. You can tackle items in order of importance, or according to how much time you have. If you have 4 minutes until you need to pick your students up from PE, you might be able to tackle a small item like printing worksheets off a website.

You don’t have to write as large as I did for an easy-to-read illustration, but don’t use every line and let the page get crowded with tasks. Every day or few days, reassess and start a new page. I often found that some items didn’t need to stay on the list because they turned out to be unimportant, or they were Overcome by Events. (Something changed and now I don’t have to do it.)

Write on one side of the paper and flip to the next page as you go through the book. Then, if you want to conserve paper, you can turn the book around and write on the back of every page, going through it again.

I hope the steno list helps you feel less stressed and more organized.

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Posted in Classroom Management,First Year Teachers,Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Sep 7, 2012


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