The most practical daily practices aren’t really taught to teachers. None of us received training in how to best take attendance, minimize the paper trail, organize digital files, or transition between classes. The lucky teachers have found a good system. Unlucky ones are still searching for more efficient systems, or don’t even know that alternatives exist at all! This is a companion post to How To Plan So Your Plans Never Get Messed Up with some tips on organization…
Google Docs & Bookmarks
Create a single document for each activity type (e.g. Write & Discuss, Class Texts, Card Talk, Special Person, etc.). At the top, list your classes.
Later in the document is where each class’ texts start. Add a bookmark to the class name, then go back and link each class to its bookmarked page. When you add new texts, type them into the top of the class’ page, not bottom, and you’ll never go searching for anything again; the link will bring you to the most recent text.
Type & Discuss
Unless you’re a luddite, or really, really, really want to show how the target language is written, type directly into a document as students copy into their notebooks during Write & Discuss. This avoids wasted time transferring Latin into a digital format. Consider teachers who still keep a written copy of grades wasting time putting those into the digital gradebook!
Put your computer to sleep before you leave school for the day (because you’re not going to bring it home to plan, right?), and keep your tabs open, especially attendance, Write & Discuss Google docs, or anything you need for the next day’s class. Shut it down over the weekend for a fresh start, and full RAM on Monday.
Here are a couple attendance practices:
1) Place those Card Talk name cards from the beginning of the year randomly, or “randomly,” on seats before the next class comes in. Grab cards from empty seats (i.e. the absent students), and set aside to mark as absent later. Don’t have these?! Students write their names on card stock, then respond to all sorts of prompts throughout the year, usually in drawings. Replace with new ones when they get too busy.
2) Use seats to indicate who’s absent by only having the maximum amount you need for the largest class, setting aside all other chairs/desks (e.g. classes of 15, 17, 18, and 22 require 22 chairs to be set up, always. There should only be 7, 5, 4, and 0 seats open, respectively, when all students are in class. Write down/know how many students should be in each class, then ask students who’s absent when you notice something’s not right. This is less reliable than name cards, but works just fine. Also consider the “Absent-minded” student job who keeps track of who’s not in school.
Yes, this practice is an opportunity to create buy-in as well as connect with each student, but it also gives you some time to transition/prep the room for the incoming class, whatever that means in your context. This could be just the time to enter previous class’ attendance, and place name cards for the incoming class as described above.