Classroom Organization: Record Keeping

Take Inventory
Well, the bad news is our school had 30 windows broken out New Year’s Eve. The good news is nothing was stolen. But what if things HAD been taken? Do you have an inventory of what’s in your room? You may not need to know how many chalkboard erasers or boxes of paper clips you have on hand, but someone might be asking sometime how many calculators or balance scales or world globes you have, or had. Take the time to make a list of the major items in your classroom; it doesn’t take long and may save you a headache later.

Classroom Budget
Every year our skimpy classroom budget is never enough and we end up buying classroom materials out-of-pocket that we are never reimbursed for. Get a grip on your budget by itemizing what you buy, both through the district and on your own, and how much you spend. Then look for things that are often on sale, such as notebook paper (they practically give it away at discount stores at the beginning of the school year) or items you might get for free (like promotional pens, pencils and rulers) and round up those items on your own. You’ll spend your own money more effectively, have a better sense of what your classroom uses every year and possibly find business connections for items they might donate.

Parents: Make Education Part of Your Job
Make a point to stay familiar with the occupations of the parents/guardians of your students. Doing so makes your job easier when looking for outside resources for help with lessons, field trips or projects. And remember that the number of people working from home is increasing, and that their more flexible schedule may allow them an hour or two each week to help at school. All you may have to do is ask.

Daily Work Pad
From Teachnet Contributor, Paul Deakin
Here is one idea which may be of help to someone. Here in Western Australia, we have to keep a “daily work pad” (DWP) detailing what objectives/content we intend to cover and/or we have covered, on a daily basis. It’s a great planning tool for the short term, but most commercial DWPs leave no room for any notes on what actually happened. A friend of mine (Richard Garnsworthy) photocopies his classlist and about 10 columns onto one side of an A4 page, and blank lined paper on the other. He then binds about 50 of these double sided sheets into a book, using that cheap plastic material which all our schools have. Thus he has in front of him on any school day, the left-hand page with space for any information he wishes to record about the class or individuals, and on the right-hand page, space to write his intentions for the day.

I have used this “home-made DWP” system now, for three years and am amazed at the amount of information I can store in an anecdotal way. For example, I often use it to monitor “problem” children’s frequent inappropriate behaviour that is not substantial enough to warrant major documentation on its own, but cumulatively amounts to a problem. When a parent interview is called for, I have all of the information at hand including what lesson was being taught at that time, etc.

I also use the pages at report time, when my evaluation book tells me a different story to my gut feeling. I can look back at a number of minor tests to see if the child’s results are painting a different picture from those obtained in major ones.

This system can be used for recording school-requirement information. We are often asked to monitor who has paid for excursions, who is wearing inappropriate clothing, the list goes on and on. Not only does this list supply me with a recording device, it is a (semi) permanent record – far superior to the individual pieces of paper which invariably get lost over a couple of months.

Track Your School Expenses
From Teachnet Contributor, Linda Reid
I spend a lot of money every year on materials for my classroom, two and three dollars at a time. Needless to say, at tax time I couldn’t find receipts, checks, etc., and always cheated myself when claiming these as unreimbursed business expenses. A couple of years ago I called my credit card company and asked about a dedicated card. No problem–my credit line was already established and they just sent me another card to use ONLY for school purchases. It has worked wonderfully–all the records are together at the end of the year and its a three minute job to add them up.