Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pre-Planning Prioritizing

For years and years, I always went into my classroom early because I couldn't get everything done during my pre-planning week. A few years ago, I finally figured it out.

I'm NEVER going to get everything done that I want to get done. There will ALWAYS be things that I could do or would like to do.

I finally learned that it was a matter of prioritizing.

There are some tasks/meetings that my district says I MUST attend.

There are some tasks that I MUST get finished within the pre-planning week or I am uncomfortable as a teacher.

There are some things that I WANT done before the first day of school but its not the end of the world if I don't get to it.

And of course, there are things that are on my never ending list of materials I would like to prepare but if I get it done this week, this semester or next summer, I will still have students who are safe and learning.

I have also found that some of the "must do's" are procedural tasks from the school or district. I have finally figured out that my assistant and I are a team. She is happy to take care of some of those tasks, if I let her! I learned to delegate and share tasks.

The following are my lists and their respective categories of importance to me:


Not my choice:
1) Attend annual policy and procedure welcome back meeting for the school.
2) Attend the superintendent's video meeting and welcome back.
3) Create take home packets including: student code of conduct, emergency medical forms, room mother forms, etc. (I ask my assistant to do this.)
4) Call the families of all of the students in my class and invite them to "Meet Your Teacher."
5) Attend team meeting at my school.
6) Attend depratment meeting (pre-k teachers) at the district level.

My Choice:
1) Try to schedule any initial IEPs and staffings that have been added to my caseload over the summer. (I like to get these done during pre-planning because then I can start with students on day 1. It doesn't always work out, but I try my hardest to get it done.)
2) Get the physical layout of my room organized and ready for children.
3) Have a welcoming bulletin board outside my class (my assistant does this for me).
4) Set up my anecdotal record notebook (my assistant does this for me).
5) Set up a folder/list of IEP due dates for students for the year.
6) Lesson plans for the first week of school. (I plan and my assistant helps me gather materials or prep materials for lessons.)
7) Take my assistant out to lunch! (We frequently go with other teachers and staff, but during the school year, we rarely get the chance to have lunch together. It's nice to carve out some time during the pre-planning week to spend some time together.)

I have found, that if I complete all of the tasks that the district requires of me and I have all of the things done that make me comforatble as a teacher, then I usually have an afternoon or two to take care of some of the special tasks that I enjoy (creating new visual supports, surfing the internet for new lesson ideas, visiting other classrooms and "stealing" other teachers' ideas).

Prioritizing what the district requires and what I need helps me to stay focused on the most important tasks and complete them. As a bonus, it reduces the stress and anxiety of completing numerous tasks in a short period of time. When the stress is reduced, I'm much more productive.


anne marie said...

Smiled when I read this since it could have been written by me!!! Enjoy your posts.
anne marie

Michelle_special_ed_teacher said...

Thanks Ann Marie. It's funny how long it takes to finally "get" something. And then once you do it seems so simple.