All You Need is… Organization

Let’s take a survey:

Do you find yourself digging into your backpack and realizing that some parts of your class are missing?

Are your papers so scrambled that giving them out would be an insult to your students?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ then this is the blog post for you.

When I first started teaching, I didn’t know what the best way to keep track of all of my classes was.

Get ready my little perfectionists, we are going to talk about stationery and organization

To start with, when you are running all around the city and teaching in multiple locations, it is really useful to print out a weekly plan schedule with times, locations and telephone numbers. Having all of your classes on one piece of paper helps you to see the bigger picture. I would suggest writing  it in pencil because we all know how quickly things can change.

Keep Track

The next important part of staying organized is knowing what you have already taught and what is coming up. I used to keep track of all the classes I taught in one notebook on separate pages.  I would write the date and the group along with the bullet points of everything that needs to be covered that month, for example:

March -B2 group- (name of the company)

  • Present Perfect
  • Phrasal verbs with ¨put¨
  • Etc.

The only thing I needed to do after each class was tick off the topics that we covered. I would also keep a blank post-it note on each of those pages to write additional ideas that came up. Let’s say I was teaching that B2 group and I realized that they need to go over Present Continuous again. I would write it down so I could include it for the future.

Stay Ahead of the Game

Once you are able to keep track of what you have covered and what is coming, it’s important to stay organized with your papers. I always preferred making copies for all my classes one week ahead which would result in carrying a bunch of copies at a time. This is where binders with removable plastic pockets come in handy. This way you can always take the necessary plastic pocket out and have it in your bag to avoid carrying the entire binder. Or, if you don’t use some of the copies for one group, you can think about a different group to use it with and I move it to a different binder.

Grade Between Classes

Now that we have all the materials ready and we know what has been taught and what is coming next, we have grading left. A big part of teachers’ stress comes from the lack of time to grade everything they have asked their students to write. I think it is mostly a psychological thing, we keep thinking how at the end of the day when we come home we have 30 essays to grade. This is where you mind starts panicking, because you realize that there will be no spare time for you.

My suggestion is very simple. In general,  we don’t realize how much free time we get in small chunks, for example breaks between classes, 20 minute or longer commutes from one place to another etc. Use those precious minutes! Another stationery item that I found very useful was a clipboard. Having all of your essays in one place and on a sturdy surface can help you grade practically anywhere. If it takes you about 5-10 minutes to grade one essay, during all those little breaks during the day you can finish about 10, which is a third of your work done for the evening.

Flexibility is Key

Probably the last but not the least important item of stationery that I used to carry everywhere was flashcards!  Being a teacher requires a lot of flexibility. You absolutely have to have a plan B if some of your activities don’t work or your students are struggling with the material you have given them. I have discovered that introducing visuals in lessons is very important. To make your visuals even more effective. You can ask the students to create them. For example, when teaching grammar, you can ask the students to draw sentences in particular tenses.

e.g. I have been to Paris

Your students can always refer back to those cards.

All in all, those little things will help you to get organized, reduce stress and introduce more visuals in your class

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