Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back to School for the High School Teacher Part 1: The Sanity Saver

*UPDATE (08-06-12) - The Back to School series consists of the following posts:
Part 1: The Sanity Saver (you are here)
Part 2: The Classroom Website For the Super Busy Teacher
Part 3: The Well-Oiled Classroom Machine
Special: The Student Edition



I've had teaching on the brain since mid-July. I'm just as ready to get back to school next month as I was to get out in May. Even though this is my third year teaching I'm always looking for new ideas to make the year go more smoothly. I've been Pinning all summer and digging around for teaching blogs with cool classroom organization ideas. It seems like the majority of them, though, have been for elementary education. Those elementary educators really get into it, and I would love to see more blogs by high school teachers! One common element I've seen on many teacher blogs is the binder/teacher organization tool/daily organization tool/sanity saver. I've taken lots of different ideas, adjusted them to my personal needs, and created my own sanity saver that I'd like to share with you.
High School Teacher Daily Organizer


My goal in creating this binder was to reduce the number of binders, folders, and random notebooks floating around with really important things in them. I originally thought it would be a good idea to have a separate binder/folder/notebook for EVERYTHING. Big mistake. Instead, it would up being very difficult to keep track of all these floating vessels of knowledge. Plus, they took up so much space! When creating this binder, I wanted to have one (easily portable) location for everything that I use to make my school day run smoothly. Oh, and another personal goal was for it to look cute. If I'm going to stare at it every single day, I want to have happy thoughts while staring. :)







 Sorry about the camera flash, but aren't they pretty? :)

These ten dividers are the things that are most necessary to make my day run smoothly.

Calendar - I created my own calendar template because I'm like that. Yes, I could have definitely found a free printable online or cut apart one of those free calendars that show up in the mail sometimes. However, I wanted some customizations, so I took a little extra time to create my own template. Each week lists the quarter of the grading period and the week number to help me keep track of progress reports, Common Formative Assessments, etc. I added the First Student Day on the 8th and throughout the calendar I've marking important school calendar items (end of grading period, winter and spring break, make-up snow days, etc.). Oh, and Adam's birthday is coming up! That's important too.

Calendar Pages

Lesson Plans - Another personal creation is my lesson plan template. I've never found a plan book that I've liked because they just never seem to fit with my scheduling and I always give up using them by October. I'm hoping my customized planner will help with that. In addition, I also have a copy of the typed set of plans that I post in my classroom and on my classroom website (more on that one later)! My lesson plans have space for meeting dates, the unit names, important dates, a to-do list, reminders, and there is a bulleted list at the bottom of each day's column that I'm using to keep track of the materials I need to have prepared for that day. So far, this has been very handy!

Planning Pages (organized by day of the week and period)

These are my typed up daily plans I post on the class website and in my classroom for all to see.
Student Attendance - Again, I created my own attendance templates because I'm whiny and I really hate the attendance books I've found elsewhere! This one has enough room for those extra large class sizes. It's also set up so I only have to write student names once (in the column on the left).

An attendance book that actually works for high school!


Gradebook - You're never going to believe this, but I actually made my own gradebook template (*sarcasm*). This was a huge goal for me. In the ever-evolving world of public education, it has now become very important to know exactly how each student is doing in every single aspect of the classroom. We have electronic gradebooks, which will be broken up into vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing, grammar, and listening/speaking to help us identify the areas in which students are struggling. I've divided my paper gradebook into three sections: tests, quizzes, and homework. My hope is that this will help me target which activities that are worth points are having the biggest impact (positive or negative) on each student's grade. The column on the left has a numbered list (up to twenty-five) for homework assignments where I can write the date, assignment title, and notes on the assignment. There is a corresponding numbered column on the right where I can write the score. No more cramming assignment titles into the margins at the top of the page!

High School Grade Book Template

These rest of the sections are pretty basic and I don't have any terribly photography to accompany them.

Student Data - This is the area where I will record students' pretest and post test scores on our quarterly Common Formative Assessments. This is also where I will stash my IEP and 504 information on students.

Standards - We're moving to Common Core standards this year. English 9 and 10 (my subjects) share Common Core standards. In English 9H I have Power Standards which are the priority standards I'll be teaching each quarter.

Meeting Notes - All meeting notes will go here. PLCs, staff meetings, department meetings, you name it.

Parent Contact Log - This year we are required to contact every parent at least once. This will help me track those emails, phone calls, and conferences.

Freshmen Class Info - I'm the Freshmen Class Sponsor which actually requires a considerable amount of work. Ta da! No more floating competition rules and canned food drive numbers.

Drama Club - This one might have to go into its own binder. I feel like there won't be enough room in my D.O.T for everything that's going to go in A Christmas Carol this year.

So there it is... my high school English teacher version of a sanity saver. Hopefully it will inspire you to create your own version of a sanity saver, or to consider your current organization methods, or just to hug a high school teacher because there are a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into keeping a day that involves 170 teenagers somewhat organized.

*UPDATE: If you are interested in any of my templates, you can find them by scrolling up to the top of this website and clicking the tab that says "Free Templates For You!" This will take you to my Box.com account where you can download my black and white templates FOR FREE! If you're looking to add a little color to your life, stop by my Teachers Pay Teachers store and browse around! You can contact me via the comments below or email me at stephanie(at)eatwriteteach(dot)com for more information!

UPDATE (07/26/2015) - Since I wrote this post three years ago, it has been viewed 77,998 times! That just blows my mind! I really hope it has been helpful to all of those who have stopped by to take a look. My own Sanity Saver has evolved quite a bit in the last three years. If you would like to see what it looks like nowadays, just click here! 


Happy Teaching!


  

49 comments:

  1. Micky Emily MillerJuly 26, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    Oh, that moment when the teacher learns from her former student! I love this! With so much accountability now, I've been trying to find something to help contain all of my paperwork in one place...I think you helped me get this nailed down! You rock!

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  2. Way to Go Miss Thang! You do rock!

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  3. you are too organized - but that's a good thing. Think you could design something for me to organize my doctor/hospital bills that just seem to be never ending ? Love ya !

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  4. Awesome, Stephanie! Once I actually know what my job is going to entail, I just might steal some of this. :)

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  5. Thanks, everyone! You've set my heart all a'flutter. :) This binder took some time to create, but I really think it has already paid for itself. I definitely recommend this system!

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  6. I agree...there needs to be more high school teaching related blogs!! Perhaps someday I can make some time to join, but for now I will love you guys that have found the time!

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    1. Morgan, it's actually been a real blessing to have this blog! It keeps me thinking about ways to improve my classroom and myself as a teacher so I can share new ideas! Thanks for reading. =)

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    2. You are a beautiful human being for making this available to all of us! This will be my second year teaching, but my first year to actually start school off. I came in about 2 months into the year, so this will definitely make my first time planning way easier. Thank you!!

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  7. I love this! I am in the midst of making my own right now :-).

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    1. Best of luck in your endeavors! You may want to pull your hair out after a while, but I promise it will be worth it. Mine has been worth every minute I put into it and we've only been in school a few weeks.

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  8. Great job! I am working on mine now too.

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    1. Thanks and good luck! It will definitely be worth the effort!

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  9. Love it! I teach high school math and I like to be SUPER organized as well. Do you have the templates to the calendar you made??

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    1. Yep, sure do! If you send me an email to stephanie@eatwriteteach.com and tell me if you would prefer it as a PDF or as a Word 2007 document I will happily send it your way!

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  10. I'm a first year teacher and am so OCD. This is what I need! Thanks for the guidance! :)

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  11. I have taught middle school for 8 years. I am transitioning to high school. I would love to try your templates if possible. Looking for something that can make my life easier. Thank you for offering this. This is the most helpful site I've found. My email is brooks@greenville.k12.sc.us thanks again.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Brandi,
      If you scroll up to the top of the website, you will see a tab that says Templates for You! If you click that, it will take you to my Box.com account where you can get all of the templates. Note that the calendar pack in there right now is for 2012-2013. I'll be uploading the 2013-2014 calendar in July as well as some slightly-updated templates. Thanks for your interest! If you have any problems or questions, feel free to email me at stephanie(at)eatwriteteach(dot)com. Thanks!

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  12. Hello Stephanie!! I enjoy your website! I love all of the neat templates! I would love to be entered in the give away! I am the one that e-mailed you about the templates and ideas on this wonderful blog! Have you picked the winner yet?? I teach high school in the family and Consumer Science area. I teach Parenting and Child Development and the templates will work nice in my classroom! Thanks so much for offering a blog for High school teachers!! Thanks
    Jennifer Hudson

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    1. Hi Jennifer,
      My aunt teaches FACS and I know she has so many preps and has to be super organized! I'm glad you're enjoying reading and I hope the templates help! :)

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  13. I have been looking for ideas for my own teacher binder for quite some time now. My biggest problem has been that most of the printables have been for grade school. I am so happy to have found you because you not only teach the exact same thing as me, but you have awesome printables!! Thank you! I cant wait to get started on the 2013-14 edition of my personal teacher binder!

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    Replies
    1. Woo hoo! Glad to hear you're enjoying the blog. I hope the printables help! :D

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  14. What size binder do you use for all of this stuff? Super awesome =)

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    1. Last year I only used a one-inch binder and that bad boy was STUFFED by the end of the year. I upgraded to a two-inch binder this year. I also noticed that since it holds my whole teaching life that I needed a pretty sturdy binder, so I splurged and bought a pretty nice one for a couple of bucks. :)

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  15. this is super just what I was looking for , second level teacher here in Ireland and I float, that is I do not have an assigned classroom so I have to be super organised, it is so difficult to get an adequate teachers planner/journal anywhere. You have inspired me. I am teaching 9 yrs but this year I will be customizing my own planner, It will make such a difference. You have done a great job well done!! Thank you

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    Replies
    1. I would imagine that floating would be extremely challenging! I hope these ideas will help simplify things for you. :)

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  16. Hi - I really like your atttendace sheets, do you sell them?

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    1. Hello,
      If you scroll to the top of the blog there is a tab that says "Free Templates for You!" If you click that it will take you to all of my free templates, including attendance sheets. You can also visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store for more items.
      Thanks!

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  17. Hi Stephanie - can you explain the yellow slip and how to use it effectively. I am a first year English teacher and am interested in how this works.

    Thanks

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    1. Hi Deb,
      The Yellow Sheet is turned in by a student in place of a missing homework assignment. The student who doesn't have the homework assignment for the day (for any reason) picks up a Yellow Sheet and fills out the top portion and then turns it into the tray with all of the other homework. I stick this yellow sheet in my Missing Work binder. Per class policy, the student has five days to turn in the assignment for partial credit. When the assignment is turned in, I finish filling out the yellow sheet and detach the very bottom portion, which is then stapled to the student's work to return to them. This way, the student has a record of the late work and how many points were deducted, and so do I. Great for parent-teacher conferences! Does that clarify things? (I'll be posting about this again in the very near future.)

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    2. I love the idea for the yellow slip. I am using this in my classroom this year. Thanks.

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  18. This is great information. I teach 10th grade World Literature.

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  19. I am sooooo happy that there are organization tips for high school teachers! All I have found is elementary and I was trying to adapt them! I found you on Pinterest!

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  20. God, I love you. :) Thank you so much for those templates. I just took a new position after 6 years, and I needed something to help me stay organized in the crazy 48 hour move from one school to the next... enter... your Sanity Saver. I (and my husband) cannot thank you enough!!! :)

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    1. Nothing quite like the insane rush of a fast-paced classroom switch! Good luck! :D

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  21. You have some great ideas. Thank you for sharing!

    Could you share what the way fun font is?

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  22. Thanks so much for sharing your creativity with us! I used your calendar and lesson plan templates all year and absolutely LOVED THEM!! I thought I downloaded the calendar in a Word format so I could make it into a 2014-15 calendar for this year but nope... :( Do you have the file available in a Word doc so I can rework it?? Thanks!

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  23. Great post! There is some really helpful stuff here. Keep up the good work!

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  24. Thank you, thank you! I will be using these this upcoming semester. I searched the web high and low and struggled to find functional templates for middle/high school...finally found your link on Pinterest. So nice to see teachers helping each other out!

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  25. Thanks so much, I was feeling very swamped at work and these ideas have motivated me. Report season and programs due really needed these

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  26. Thanks so much!! How do you make the dividers

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    1. Hello! I just covered card stock in pretty scrapbook paper, glued on the title that I printed from my computer, and then slid them into page protectors. Easy peasy. :)

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  27. These are all great ideas! Thank you for sharing them with everyone. I have been teaching for going on 5 years and these will help me become a better teacher. I liked your ECA Madness game I think It might help my AP class. Thank you!!!

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  28. I noticed next to your door you had a student sign out white board and a tardy sign in sheet. Can you tell me what the white board had on it and what the tardy sheet template looked like? This is a MUST HAVE for me this year. Thank you for all of your generosity in sharing your wonderful ideas. I am starting my 9th year of teaching this year and still am changing and making things run smoother every year.

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    1. Hi! I kept both of these very simple. The tardy sheet just had three columns: date, student name, and time of arrival. The sign out board had three columns as well: student name, time of departure, and destination. We used codes for destination so it didn't take as long to write out (RR = restroom, LB = library, LK = locker, etc.). I used white board poster board for this one. I created my basic template using a wet erase marker, and then left a dry erase marker there for entries. At the end of the day I just ran a dry eraser over the board. This erased the entries but left the template. I used paper for the tardy record because I wanted something a little more permanent. Hope that helps! :)

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  29. Whoops! Posted my comment as a reply to someone else's on accident!


    You are a beautiful human being for making this available to all of us! This will be my second year teaching, but my first year to actually start school off. I came in about 2 months into the year, so this will definitely make my first time planning way easier. Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
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