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Balancing School Roles Is All About Your Desk Calendar

When you work in a school, no one title adequately describes your job.

Some of us are teachers, coaches, technicians, etc., and the list goes on depending on the capacity you function within your school community.

As my roles increased this year, I've noticed the importance of a good desk calendar.

I've tried using Google calendar, but for me, it just isn't as good as having something visual that is in front of me all the time in the classroom.

As a matter of fact, at home as well, I have many dry erase calendars where I can plot and plan in a variety of ways to keep my life in order.

Being organized as an educator is essential to getting work done efficiently.

Here are some of the things you can use a desk calendar for:

  • Meetings that sprout up during the week. Always make sure to write them in pencil because if your school is like mine, things change a lot. Being able to refer to a calendar also allows you to keep a record of the activities you spend your time doing. This will help with accountability if necessary.

  • Being intentional about which hat you will wear each day also can be written down. I like to color code and use one color for coaching duties and a different one for teacher duties. When I plan to visit with a colleague and make sure to write down when I plan to do so or if I just drop in, I make sure to put that down as well. In addition to my desk calendar, I also carry a notebook for corresponding notes that wouldn't be appropriate to have out all of the time.

  • Conferences with students as well as lunch and learns are planned and placed so I don't overbook. That is also a benefit of having the calendar. When I can see how a whole month is filling up, I can appropriately plan breaks for when student work comes due and I know I will need quiet time to assess it adequately. That should be planned too.

  • Notes to myself go on the calendar too, usually on the weekend days. The picture is a list of students I had to write recommendations for. That was the way for me to have a list and check or cross off the student names as they were completed. The beginning of the year is particularly challenging and I like to plan time to write recommendations.

  • Sometimes I'm asked to participate in other meetings with outside vendors, having the calendar makes it easy for me to readily share my availability. It is easy to check and amend as needed.

  • To model organizational skills - some of my students are woefully disorganized and this is one way for me to show them how I maintain my life. The calendar in concert with my plan book and weekly school updates always make for a fair amount of preparation.

  • Adding field trips also helps especially if I have a handful of students who I shouldn't mark absent on a particular day. That goes on the calendar too.

  • Project due dates should be placed on the calendar and then you can appropriately plan backward to ensure student success. This also helps make sure that you aren't giving too much over a short period of time.

  • Club meetings and school town halls also go on the calendar, so whatever planning that needs to be done can happen in advance.

  • After-school activities should be added to the calendar too as well as evenings that you're expected to be at work or other school-related activities.

  • Days off of school can be pre-slugged and then you can plan around that too.

  • Travel and professional learning experiences should be put on the calendar as well as days/times you'll be debriefing when you return and another counting down to ensure that substitute lessons are in place before you leave. Also lets you inform students of what they will need to do in your absence and how they can contact you.

  • For those folks who like to count days, having a calendar makes that convenient. I personally like to cross days off as they end as a sense of pride and satisfaction. There's a lot of learning that happens and if you even glance at the desk calendar, there would be no question.

  • Avoid putting anything too personal on your desk calendar as it is exposed and in the open all of the time. If you don't want students or colleagues to know something, don't write it in this location. Place it in a more secure place.

It's easy to forget things that come up that can't be forgotten. By using the desk calendar, the likelihood of not getting somewhere on time or not showing up at all is greatly lessened. If you don't have one, I highly recommend it.

Other great alternatives are dry-erase wall calendars and regular wall calendars that you can hang by your desk. Even if you do prefer an electronic calendar where alarms can be set, having the visual is great additional aid.

How do you maintain your busy calendar and stay organized? Please share

*This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in November 2015.


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