Saturday, February 2, 2013

Another Use for a Planner...

Even though I manage my time and events electronically now (go Google calendar!), I still really love pen and paper planners. I found this one at Barnes and Noble, and once they went 50% off after Christmas I couldn't help but snatch it up!
Since I don't really NEED one I spent time thinking of legitimate ways to use it, rather than just creating a hard copy of my Google schedule. Over Christmas Break I read "Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching" by Angela Watson - highly, highly, highly recommend. It's a tremendous resource for developing an outlook that helps you to deal with all of those frustrating occurrences that steal the joy out of your teaching (like lack of copy machine etiquette, which I will be writing about at some point in the near future). The book gave me quite a bit to think about, and two questions in particular that I was focusing on were 1) How can I focus more on the positive things that happen throughout the day? and 2) What can I do to end the school day on a positive note, regardless of what happens the final class period of the day? Combine that with my desire to effectively use my frivolous Snoopy-obsession-induced purchase, and here's what I came up with: at the end of every day, I use the space in the planner to record the good things that happened that day. That way I am always forced to sit down and think about the rewards of the day, and I've even begun the habit of keeping a running list of the good things on a section of the running to-do list I always keep on my clipboard so I don't forget later on. Here's what it looks like:

And a close-up:

I love the multi-colored pens to make it extra happy-looking! It has been a tremendous tool for ending my day remembering all the worthwhile events that took place. The last hour of the day thus far has usually been the roughest at this school, with both groups of kids. This helps me keep in mind what came before that. Great way to record personal victories!

I've also added a couple of other items to the days as well. I write down the hours that I actually spend in the building. I had thought I would also track the time I spend working at home, but after a couple of days realized that looking at that number would most likely just depress me. I'm also trying to get in the habit of jotting down parent phone calls in here as well. Since this is always handy, it's a great place to jot down name/time/number called, and then I can record the other pertinent information in my student records later on. Still working on establishing that habit, but I've written my happy notes after school every day for four weeks now. Given that it's only a small space, it's much easier to keep up with on a daily basis than a typical journal or all-out reflection - I can always squeeze in a few sentences before grabbing my belongings. It will be fun at the end of the school year to look back on all of the great memories from each day.

I know some teachers jot down notes when something good happens and then keep them in a jar or other container, then open it up at the end of the year, which is also a great idea - I just like the idea of having mine all written and bound in one place. I'd love to hear ideas from other teachers: What do you do to keep track of the good times?

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