Educator’s Lifesaving Tip 1: Checklists

I will never forget the day I got to shadow my favorite administrator. He had all sorts of tricks up his sleeve to build positive and lasting relationships with all students. You can read about my day in Shadowing an Administrator. One thing I wrote about is the checklist that Mr. Smith made first thing each morning. This checklist is what structured his entire day. Since then I have done the same thing and I cannot tell you enough how much it has saved my sanity!

I am now a firm believer in checklists for EVERYTHING, just ask my family. I have a checklist on my bathroom mirror for my morning routine, a checklist on the refrigerator of all the things I need to take to work with me for the day, my children have their morning routine checklist in their bedrooms… I think you get my point. Let me tell you specifically why checklists have saved my life.

Prioritizing My Day

When I create a checklist it begins as me jotting down all of the things I can think of. At work I do this as soon as I walk into my office. I gather all of my sticky notes from the day before, look at my emails, and check my Google Calendar. From there I begin to sort everything into priority. Most days I look at the absolutely overwhelming list and I know there is no way I will get them all finished. So I draw my line. I find where in my list I must get those things done the day. The rest of the list are things I would like to get done, but they can also wait for tomorrow. Making that decision first thing in the morning has taken so much pressure off of me. Trust me, I am always trying to get everything done, but at the end of the day as long as I have made it to that line, I am okay. By simply prioritizing my day I have allowed myself to fully focus on the task at hand and not worry about the rest of my day.

Fluidity

I am an ESL Coordinator for two schools. This means I travel back and forth regularly and have a lot going on. I cannot remember the last time that a day started where I thought it would and every class period went as planned. I am constantly getting emails from teachers asking for help or receiving a new student to complete testing and a LPAC for or a student comes running up because they have homework that is due in an hour and they need help right now! Just because I have a checklist does not mean I cannot add things in as they come. This is why I prefer a checklist to a planner. With a planner, you have specific times allotted for each task. This will not do for my role, whereas a checklist is more fluid and works within my schedule.

Documentation

As I said before, my role is a bit unique. I do not teach a set number of classes a day. Instead I have a list of tasks that need to be completed. I have found that creating and keeping checklists each day has helped me document exactly what I am doing with my time. I have never been asked to share how I am using my time, but I would certainly like to have the capability if I ever needed to. Keeping a checklist allows me to document and reflect back on my day easily without the frustration of trying to remember everything I did all on my own.

Give it a Try!

So give creating checklist a try! Begin with creating one that does not change each day, such as your morning routine and see if it helps you get ready a little more quickly. If your children struggle each morning and you are having to constantly holler at them to hurry up, give them a checklist. My daughter writes hers out on the bathroom mirror with an expo marker. You can even create a checklist that you keep on your board in the classroom, a list of things your students do everyday when they walk into the classroom. If you decide that checklists are as great as I think you will, try creating one for work each day. Don’t forget to prioritize your list!


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