Even before I turned in my keys on the last day of school, I had signed up for two full days of mandatory professional development, received next year’s academic calendar and been informed that there is a new evaluation tool my district has adopted for use this Fall. Those of you who have been a part of this wild thing called “education” for a few years already understand that a} I really need a break from all this, b) no break and no pay will be offered for the time I will take to learn the new evaluation tool and pass its certifications, and c) it is very probable that all of the paperwork and my notes will be mislaid by the time my classroom is ready for the beginning of school, buried under a pile of additional professional development information, PLC notes and papers to be filled out and returned to various departments on campus and at the central office.
Last year, I decided to reduce my stress by creating a “commonplace” notebook. For those of you who have never encountered this term, it means a notebook where you collect your thoughts and important information. The flaw in a notebook like this is the potential for losing it. My first move was to prepare a parking spot for this notebook. The notebook was to contain a variety of important information. I selected a notebook with a bright cover and several sections divided by pockets. PD at the library? No problem, I grabbed my book and headed on down. How were we supposed to test the students to set a baseline score? Also not a problem, as I had slipped the printed information into a pocket of my notebook.
In addition to notes, I also jotted down test and other official websites with my usernames and passwords inside the front cover. A copy of the academic calendar and a printout of any important emails were included in last year’s notebook. I had to track down my copy of a purchase order, so this year I will place purchase orders in my commonplace book. There were several pages devoted to ideas for teaching concepts, books I encountered that I planned to use and other such information,
Let me encourage you to give a commonplace book a try. It has helped maintain my serenity in the face of chaos many a time. I did not have a frantic search for missing PLC notes, nor did I have to contact the technology department to find out my username for an important website. Walmart has an excellent option on sale for Back to School right now for about $2.97.