The December New Teacher News theme is FFA and keeping it all straight.
What advice would you give an early career teacher on how to organize, prioritize, and keep all things FFA straight?
Call me crazy --
Until it became second nature, i would religiously use a planner (a knock-off version of a Franklin). I would update semester by semester basis, and always check each week, upcoming month etc for deadlines, dates, etc.
Now I guess I can use this dang flashy-light-box-thingy on my desk to do that for me.
Of course, by now, my own life signs are timed to the circadian rhythms of FFA.
I guess the best thing is to plan your work and work your plan -- find what works for you.
And realize that it becomes easier as you go along.... I think.
One of the best things that I've done this year is make due dates for due dates. If I know that I need to register students for a conference on x day, I mark a reminder in my calendar a week ahead of time so I know to confirm with students, double check field trip forms, etc. That way due dates and events don't sneak up on me as easily.
Kellie's idea made me think: I use the calendar function on my e-mail quite regularly. I have the reminders pop up. I have it remind me to turn in paperwork for travel, etc. That has helped a lot because those things just don't seem to go away.
I teach in what used to be an old drafting design classroom so I inherited lots of storage drawer cabinets. I have small metal cabinets that have 12" x 12" drawers six high. I have four of them- 24 drawers- where I keep all CDE info- tests, study sheets, results, reference material. When I'm helping kids study for a CDE, we just open the drawer and find everything we've accumulated so far. CDE binders have also become common in my chapter. I have one bookcase that has labeled binders for our favorite CDEs. I also use plastic totes and boxes, A LOT! I have a 15 gal. contest box that goes with us to all CDE's. It has clipboards, pencils, pencil sharpener, rain ponchos, gallon size ziplocks for covering score cards in the rain, extra nylons, FFA ties/scarfs, baby wipes, extra camera batteries, $10, and other random things. I also have contest boxes specific to different contests- small shoe sized plastic boxes for floriculture or landscape design. One other idea I have is to acquire old lockers. My school district recently replaced some lockers that were pretty beat up so they gave me the old ones. We took the locks off and straightened out the prongs that hold the doors shut (because they had been bent), and now I store all my FFA contest boxes, lab coats and hats for meats, shop coats for Ag Mech, etc in those lockers. Some also hold extra FFA jackets, shirts, skirts, etc. My best advice is to become a storage nazi! Anything that can stack, sort, or organize needs to have a place in your classroom!
I do a combination of several of the things already mentioned! I utilize my email...I can flag important emails, set reminders on my calendar, etc.
I love technology and it has its perks, but I am a paper and pencil kind of person, and so I still have my big 'notebook' planner. I put everything in it! FFA Events, practices, ball games, other school activities, personal reminders, civic organization meetings, etc. I check it daily. At the beginning of the month, I try to go look at the next month and if there are any PO's I need fill out, leave request, etc. I try to turn them in as early as possible. (last week I turned in all of my leave request for the spring to my principal and his response was "this is the best Christmas present ever!" LOL.) I just know that things get Crazy for me in teh spring and it keeps me from forgetting as well.
I also have bought a number of plastic totes over the past few years and have all kinds of things labeled and put in them. They are a life saver! Even if you dont think you need them right now and you happen to catch them onsale somewhere, you might pick a couple up! I promise you will find something you can put in them! AND they are soooooooooo much better than cardboard boxes!
I have a white board in my room and so I also try to write announcments up on the board, reminders, due dates, etc. This is a way for the kids to also help remind me! Sometimes they will come in and say 'Miss Fields, don't forget..." and I have them write it on the board!
We keep an Activities Chart (ordered from National FFA). You could easily make your own. This helps us not to forget Thank You Cards, activities and who did what! It's a lifesaver!
You just have to figure out what works for you, but hopefully, one of us have given you an idea or suggestion that can help you. I don't think I will ever be as organized as I want to be or need to be, but I am sure working on it!
I love three ring binders.. I have one that my students have deemed the "FFA Bible" that everything divided into sections, officer applications, calendar, banquet information, communuity service information. I also have a binder for CDE that we compete in it cotains practices tests, reading material, and power point copies. The student also create their own CDE binders as we practice and i pass on material to them.
On my computer I also have an FFA folder that contains many sub folders with everything in it's own location so you are not scrolling to try and find a fair letter to send home.
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