Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Everything Organization

This blog post is part of the #MTBoS Sunday Funday Weekly Blogging Challenge.

Organization is usually something I think of as a strength for myself. I like structure, consistency, and knowing what to expect so I try to provide those things in my classroom as well. This year I'm feeling a tad flustered. We've been doing amazing things at school as we transition our historic buildings into the 21st century, but amidst the upgrades, we also have a lot of upheaval and almost constant change.

For the first time in five years, I have my own room! We've all been sharing rooms as we renovate spaces, but it's so nice to have a space to decorate and use to store my supplies. It also means that I can be in the room before the students which helps to have something up on the board and be able to greet them at the door. Organizationally, my first big area would be routine. I am big on students being able to anticipate what comes next and ultimately let class flow without my having to do anything (other than establish the routine initially).

I teach three algebra classes. In them, our routine is as follows:

  • Enter the room, take out materials you need, put the rest of your stuff out of the way
  • Get started on the warm up activity (on the board)
  • Once the bell rings, attendance and prayer (we are a Catholic school)
  • Go over the warm up activity together
  • Announcements of important class info/updates
  • Whole group/Small group collaborative exploration activity 
  • Direct instruction of new objective in small groups 
  • Practice time (individual/partner/small group)
The timing varies within the routine, but it always flows in the same order. 

I'm also single classes of geometry and calculus. It's been a few years since I've done geometry, but I'm thinking that a similar routine will work. It's my first year teaching calculus. Since it's an honors level rather than AP class, I have the flexibility to devote as much time as necessary to really delve into big concepts and ensure student understanding. I have planned a lot of group work and practice sets. I  have worked hard to establish the idea of math as a collaborative activity that takes multiple iterations to gain proficiency in my algebra classes. Introducing that idea at a higher content level will be a fun challenge.

Planning. Having four preps (I also teach a theology class) makes organization essential. I plan in a hierarchical fashion. I start with a paper calendar that I label with class meeting dates (we have an AB block schedule). There I block off dates broadly by unit and specifically by objective. Then I start to plan units within those dates. For Algebra I have a huge Google Doc spreadsheet where I have each objective matched to (at least) one collaborative activity, the MathSpace (online practice) section title, Khan Academy section titles (for students wanting extra practice), names of my own mini quiz documents, and more. I then pull the collaborative task that matches the objective for the day on my paper calendar and write both the objective and the task in my Plum Paper Planner under algebra that day. The paper calendar part remains the same for geometry and calculus, but instead of the spreadsheet, I have a Google Doc for each unit. In it, I list out the days (as Day 1, Day 2, etc) so that I can use it from year to year rather than getting into specific dates. On each day, I put the objective, the name of the task, any quizzes, etc that will be taking place. Then in my PPP, I just write "Day 1." I almost always have the Google Doc for each unit of geometry and calculus open in my Safari tabs. 

Keeping myself sane. I have folders inside of folders inside of folders. My Google Drive is organized by color with the folder for each prep (plus some of other school responsibilities). I have almost the same folders created in Dropbox as well. Drive holds all of my Google Docs, Dropbox holds all of my non-Google files. Each prep is subdivided into folders by unit, for general information, and so forth. Each unit folder is broken down into more folders for notes pages, assessments, etc. It's incredibly Type-A, but I always know where to find things in a flash! 

I actually have two PPPs. One for my school like that I use for lesson planning, test dates, meeting dates, and special school events. Then a personal one. The only overlap is school events outside of the normal 7:30-3:30 hours and days off. 

My personal planner has my meal plan and work out plan for the week in addition to the regular calendar items. I plan my meals monthly using a Google spreadsheet. I have it divided by week. The top box is where I write the meal name (or event I'll be at so I know not to plan a meal). The box beneath is has a link to the recipe from my Pinterest board if applicable. I almost always crockpot something on Monday because I'm usually at the gym until 5:45 and starving when I get home. I grocery shop for the week on either Saturday or Sunday morning. I make all of my lunches on Sunday using my Prepd Pack app and lunch box. Then I store the containers in an IKEA plastic box in my refrigerator. During the week, all I have to do is put the empty containers in the dishwasher in the afternoon and grab new containers in the morning. 

I also plan my outfits on the weekend. I put everything for the day (including jewelry, excluding shoes) on the same hanger and hang a tag with the day of the week on it at the front of my closet. I live in Florida where we only have one season, summer, so it's rare that the weather doesn't agree with what I've selected. I've been trying to pack gym bags for each day of the week that I go straight from school and putting them into my car on Monday morning. No excuses for not being prepared.

These weekly routines are so engrained in my behavior at this point that they make for a calm start to each week. It can be very challenging to get on track for the week when I'm out of town for the entire weekend. I try to grocery shop on Thursday night and plan my outfits before leaving as well so that I don't end up scrambling.


  1. WOW! I love your clothes idea. Meg Craig tried to get me to do that but it was too overwhelming. I would like to try again though. Maybe labeling the hangers and putting the jewelry with it would help... It would sure save me time, especially the jewelry. I just wish I could keep up with even ONE planner. lol!

  2. It's literally the best thing that I do. I can be ready in 10 minutes in the morning because I spend 10 minutes over the weekend picking out clothes.