Friday, 23 December 2016

Even more excitement this week!

Hi again!

I might be on holidays, but I haven't quite been on holidays this week, if you know what I mean.

My first super exciting news to share is that I was a guest blogger this week for Susan over at The ESL Connection. You can check out my post on education in Australia here! I am so very super excited because this was my first ever guest blog post!

It was also really cool because I learnt heaps while revising the post. There were heaps of times I looked at something Susan had asked and I was like, oh really? Other places don't know what that is or do that? It just goes to show how different our collective worlds can really be, even when we all have the same goal!

I have also just updated my Teacher Control Organisers for the 2017-2018 year!

   Take Control Teacher Organiser Bold Bubbles                                  

I must be really inefficient at this stuff, because it took me all day to update 6 calendars?  Anyhow, I am really happy with how they look, and I have about 10 more background designs that I just didn't get around to making last year that I'm thinking about working on after Christmas. Maybe.  

The boys have been mountain bike crazy the past few weeks, and go with their Dad nearly every day. We have the World Cup Trail just down the road from our house, so they disappear up there an awful lot. In this hideous weather. You know it's humid when even your earlobes get sweaty. Not mine. My sons. I have never seen anyone with sweaty earlobes before, but there is a first time for every thing.

I kinda get stuck between really wanting to do stuff with my kids, getting school stuff done, and playing with all the genius ideas I get that never seem to really work out, and Disney research at the moment. 366 days and the kids are counting. Alright, I might have a Disney countdown app on my phone that enables them. I AM excited. It's not every day you get to go to Disney World!

Well I guess it is if you work there. But for us, it's a once in a lifetime, not likely to ever be possible again, family holiday with an 18 month run up momentum. This week I've been researching tipping culture in the US. I have come up with this much:

  • It is extremely complex. The socially excepted rules are pretty simple when it comes to the amount. It's all the what ifs that make it tricky
  • It's in unexpected places. Like public bathrooms!?
  • Australian's are notoriously awful at it.

Silver and Gold Coins

Well, I don't want to live up to THAT expectation! I would like to do this well, hence the research. I may be a bit defensive,  but please understand, we just don't DO it here, and I have yet to find someone who can coherently explain it! Not anywhere! 

In a lot of jobs here you are actually not allowed to accept tips. In one job I had, if someone insisted on leaving one, it just went into the till. On a separate but slightly related note, I read a story this week that a local council in another state in Australia had BANNED kids and parents from giving teachers 'substantial' gifts such as wine and gift cards. 'Token' gestures such as a box of chocolates were acceptable. This is supposed to ensure anti-corruption laws are followed!?  You see?  We have no chance of really understanding this tipping culture properly when we live in an environment such as this.

I have read some people saying that the Japanese tourists often don't tip, and it's not so much okay but it's accepted, only because it's a cultural thing as they don't do it there. We don't do it here either... why is it less okay for us to mess it up? I don't really follow that logic, but it seems a pretty prevalent line of thought out there in google world. 

So,...... I'm going to lay out my understanding and really, really hope that someone will correct anything wrong! I'm sure there's stuff I have completely muddled up. I'm a bit terrified concerned about accidentally ripping someone off.
Like I said, I want to do this well.  

Anything less than a 15% tip is rude or for extremely bad service. 
I might feel guilty leaving less than 15% even if the service was really bad. Is it counterproductive to tip well even when the service was appalling?
But then you pay tax on your meal? So are you expected to tip based on the total of the bill or the before-tax amount? Does it matter?

I tip cab drivers but not the starbucks staff?

You pay tax on stuff you buy anywhere, but it's not listed on the price tag? And depending on what it is, there are different tax percentages? Is it written down anywhere so you know how much your actually paying for stuff? Do you then tip the sales staff? Again, is it before or after the taxes?

Apparently, you don't tip for tickets? So what if I buy a dinner that comes with a ticket for something? Do I just tip on the food part or the total? 

What about buffets? 

What if I run out of small change and only have high denominations left? 

I kinda feel like I'm going to end up standing on a corner handing out money to whoever walks past because I can't figure out who I should tip and who I shouldn't. After all, these are all people who are doing their jobs. Should I ask them? Seems rude. 

I guess that's why we are thought to be bad at this. It's hard to understand. I can completely understand people panicking and just bolting for the door. 

Yes, I know that these people get paid a ridiculous $2 an hour or something like that. I get that they NEED it. I have no idea how to identify who these people are. I also get that people from outside the culture could be baffled by paying someone to do their job. After all, that's what their boss is supposed to do.

My big question is this: 
Why DON'T their bosses pay them a proper income? Surely a small price increase on products and services to meet the cost wouldn't put people off buying from them if it meant that the staff were paid and the need to tip disappeared?  This is what I really don't get. 

I really want to though. As I said. I want to do it well. 
I don't want to add to the idea that Aussie's are rude, arrogant and culturally insensitive. I'm not trying to be difficult and I hope no one is offended by anything I've said. Like I said before, I'm making a huge effort to understand what is not only expected, but why and how it all works.

Well that turned into a bit of a desperate rant/plea for help. 

3 more days til Christmas! I am so very excited. My little niece is 3 weeks old. I love having hugs with her. Even though she immediately sleeps every time I touch her. She's precious. We will have the entire family together for her first Christmas, with my boys and my other niece. Such a special time.

I hope everyone has a safe Christmas and a blessed New Year. May we always remember that Jesus is the reason, but without the promise of redemption brought through Easter, it would be just another birthday celebration. Christmas is a gift of hope for the future.

And please help solve my tipping dilemmas! I have NO idea what I'm doing!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Another farewell

So it's all over. Finished once again.
My kids have grown up, no longer need me and have decided to leave me.
After 6 years, it hasn't gotten any easier.

I am, of course, talking about other people's kids, not my own. I should probably ask permission from their parents before I start referring to them as mine... or at least give a blanket disclaimer at our parent night at the start of the year.
 "I know they're yours, but for the next 10 months they're mine too.
 I hope you're a good sharer!"

That would be kinda funny actually.

But..... my class. They were so wonderful. They still are. They just aren't mine anymore.

I tried to talk them into staying with me for another year, but they wouldn't have it for a moment. Except that one sweet boy. Who has actually finished his second year with me and was angling for a third. Bless that kid! The thing is, they are sooo ready for next year. And I am so very, very proud of them.

We (myself and my other grade level teacher) undertook a really cool action research project with one of our universities. The people running the project report to the government, so the information we were providing is really important for the future of the early years in our country. It was all about putting balance back into the classroom, letting teachers teach in the way they think best, and letting the kids move and play and talk to learn. Not just that awful 'I know everything, you sit and listen, then we'll go to our allocated desks and you can do a worksheet to show me how well you listened.'  Unfortunately, that has been happening a bit in some schools, and the teachers HATE it!

It was about following their lead (our job was to make sure we covered curriculum while doing that), and letting them have some freedom to make choices about what and how they learnt the content. Not free-range kids, but they did get to make some decisions about the direction their learning took. They loved it. They OWNED it. And they ACHIEVED in our focus area (writing). Not that they achieved higher than normal by the end of the year... it was that MOST of them hit the higher level! It wasn't just that one group of high achievers.... most of them became high achievers! Even the tricky lower group I had with ESL and special needs kiddos hit the benchmark. And because they got to have input and were in control of their own learning, virtually EVERY kid was engaged for EVERY lesson. Even though we focused on writing, it spilled over into everything else. You can't really ask for more than that!

But I got more than that! I actually had to ditch my behaviour management/reward system half way through because it became useless. The kids didn't care about the rewards, and I wasn't managing any behaviour. It evaporated. By the end, all they cared about was showing off what they had done, some hugs, and encouraging each other to be excellent! They made goals and analysed their own and each other's work to identify things to improve- part of being excellent is always improving!

One of the focuses we had was growth mindset. We had some Nervous Nelly's in our classes, some who were too scared to pick up a pencil and try to write because they might make a mistake.
The change in their thinking, largely, is so much better. It's hard to imagine some of these kids have grown so much in six months! One of the best resources we had was Class Dojo's Big Ideas videos. They not only have the cutest videos but each one comes with notes and questions to discuss after.

We used the content from these videos to unpack stories we read in class from different perspectives. It was amazing to see them pulling apart the characters in popular stories- people we normally remember as the good guys- and identifying their thinking and what they could have done differently. It was certainly educational for me!  Eventually, we worked up to re-enacting situations that happened on the playground and analysing those. It was pretty amazing.

One girl, such a beautiful young lady, had difficulty with the monkey bars. She just couldn't get across. She comes from a background typically known for their bulky build, and she was already very tall compared to the other kids. She didn't have the upper body strength to haul herself across, often only making it half way. After we started looking at growth mindsets, I noticed that many of the kids would encourage her to keep trying and not give up when she fell down. She practiced every day. Then one day, it happened. She finally made it. The most amazing thing happened afterwards.

The other kids stopped what they were doing.

They clapped and cheered for her!
It was incredible to see.

One of my class parents (who also works at school) popped in on Thursday (we ninja our calendar so that the kids finish on Wednesday, and then we have Thursday to clean. Friday we have breakfast together as a staff breakup). She took some pictures of my room to show her daughter how different it looks. One of those pictures appeared on the front of my Christmas card she gave me the next day. She reminded me that my classroom is in fact, an empty room. It's the sacrifice, the people, love and life brought into the empty room that creates the environment we cherish as a place of learning, love and laughter throughout the year.

Picture is blurry, sorry. It's a photo of a photo. And lets be honest, I'm not much of a photographer... yet! And yes.. that's me in the corner.
 Now we are here in our ridiculously hot and humid summer, Christmas around the corner and then a whole new group of little munchkins to fall in love with all over again. After meeting these guys at our transition morning, I can honestly say we are going to be having class outside as much as possible (meaning when it isn't a million degrees outside). Those guys are ACTIVE!!

Which is great! It means I not only get to start using some of the stuff we worked on during the project right from day 1, it also means that I have to get out of my box and try something a little bit more challenging! I'm so looking forward to next year!

Speaking of next year... I've been hiding some pretty BIG news for awhile.
Because if I mentioned it back in June when we made the decision we would have sounded crazy about planning something so far in advance!

We are going to Disneyworld for Christmas 2017! Sult
It may seem like not much to you guys from the US, but to take my family from Australia to Orlando for two weeks over Christmas/New Years is costing about as much as a house deposit... the airfares alone are around $10K, and the amount of planning and research I'm having to do is incredible!  But so worth it for a once in a lifetime trip.

I have to plan where I want to eat dinner more than 6 months in advance so I can make reservations!? There is so much to a Disney holiday, especially when you consider we don't have anything Disney anywhere near here and don't know the rides, the events.. nothing! I didn't even realise there were so many theme parks in the one spot. And then I have to make reservations for the rides we want to do 2 months before we go?

There are also a LOT of people who go way overboard about the mouse stuff (a lot of kids here don't even know who that is, so it seems very weird!) and have full on planning binders!
I can kinda understand why you would want a binder to keep all the info together though- there's so much involved! Surely it must get easier once you've been once or twice though?

So.. what would your Disney bucket list be for first timers likely to never return?
What's with the obsession with character meetings? Is there something I'm missing?
What are your favourite events? We're looking forward to the Candlelight Processional.
And most valuably, any tips for surviving the (in)famous Christmas crowds?
I would LOVE to hear your expert thoughts!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

One more step down the road ahead......Still alive!


Well... it's been a whole term since I was last here.... sad, sad, sad. I will endeavour to do better!

To celebrate making it to school holidays, I have joined Kelly and Kim's linky party with a sale in my TPT store until 3rd July. Everything is 20% off! Starting right NOW!!

What a perfect opportunity to get one of my wonderful take-control-of-your-life-again teaching/home/life organisational binders! Change your life! Take your time back for yourself and your family!

Our Easter trip was A-MAZ-ING.

The kids absolutely loved it, and we didn't have a single argument.
Drove through a storm the first night and had no place to stop, which caused us to end up a full day ahead of schedule.
My husband even lost his phone on the first day, and even that couldn't stop him from completely loving the trip.
Camping was colder than anticipated.
Made it back home in record time. Instead of taking 3-4 days, we left Monday morning and arrived back on Tuesday night. 36 hours without a stop. Lots of caffeine was consumed. Many songs were sung. Loudly. Poorly. With great enthusiasm.

It's my favourite family holiday so far!

This term, we have had a lot of events. Probably the biggest one was our school fair. Talk about huge! Lots of pictures were taken, but none by me. We did get to wear really cute 50's style ice cream parlour aprons and hats though. So cute. Our class' stall was decorating ice cream cups or cupcakes. And then eating them. Because who wants to have cake if they can't eat it! That saying has never made sense to me. Of course I want to eat the cake. What else is the point of having cake if it isn't to be eaten!?

Our class also created an art gallery this term, and invited their parents. I had a completely awesome prac student (final prac!) who organised the kids to do little jobs to get ready for the art gallery. We did have a late night hanging it all up, but it was worthwhile to see the kids telling their parents all about it!  Here are some pictures!

This is a blurry, not-so-great picture of our 10 apples up on top bookmarks. Not sure where I saw these, but the kids fingerprinted 10 apples on top of an animal.

These are our scratch art pictures. We covered a blank page with colourful oil pastels, then painted black over the top. We then used toothpicks to scratch our pictures on them. I love how the colours just POP when they are laminated!

These are good old-fashioned marble paintings. We actually use the lid off the A4 paper boxes. They are quite literally the perfect size :)

Our starry night inspired pictures. Some looked kind of like the original, some took their own ideas and made a completely different kind of scenery. They turned out so gorgeous! My absolute favourite is the red one on the right hand side, third from the top.

These are family portraits. We actually did these right at the beginning of the year, but kept them hidden away until now :) They drew their families just in pencil, then went over it in a plain wash. We were supposed to use different colours to do clothes etc. but my instructions were a little lacking that day. We then went over the pencil lines with black texta. My family is even on there!

These are shape pictures. They were 'supposed' to use 10 shapes to create a picture. We had just been learning about the 3 little pigs, so we got lots of houses. And lots more than 10 shapes!
These are basic butterfly pictures we made while experimenting with colour mixing.
These are really amazing. When they are hung properly! They are butterfly paintings of the students names. If you turn them sideways (so you can't read the names!) they look like really cool aliens! Just look sideways at the screen and try not to see letters :)
These are paintings done while listening to Peter and the Wolf
These are plain canvas boards. They were 'supposed' to put 10 pieces of plain masking tape on the board and paint over it. They still turned out amazing. I displayed them on a bookshelf I had turned into a sorting board/feltboard. It's main function is to hide the mess on my desk from anyone who comes in. Yep, my desk is right behind it!
Scribble pictures! I know these have another more technical name, but we just call them scribble pictures. lots of fun to do!

Gingerbread men decorations. Again, use *10* things to decorate! I love Afro gingy!


And we actually ran out of room to put up our fingerprint garden pictures of plants and insects. Again, *10* fingerprints... except, not really.

So, that was our art gallery!

And then to think I had report cards all to be done at the same time! No wonder I haven't had time to blog!

We are moving through the year so quickly! I can't believe it is already the end of June! That's the halfway point in the school year for those of us in Australia. 19 more school weeks and we'll be handing our munchkins on to Year 1. So much to do, not nearly enough time to do it all in.

One of my goals from New Years Eve was to identify an area of weakness in my class to work on this year, and report back to you all about it. Getting it in by the deadline! I have two days left! This year I have noticed many children in my class seem to suffer anxiety, and much of that anxiety is connected to perfectionism and a lack of resilience. Of course, there are always going to be kids like this, but I have seen an increase in my classroom over the past few years, and this year has increased even moreso. I don't know if it's something just in my demographic or a 'thing' that's happening with kids now. 

A perfect opportunity came up at the end of May- our school has signed up for an action research project with a university (which will later report our findings to the government) working with age appropriate pedagogies. I won't get too much into all of that amazing stuff in this post, but the project is allowing us to target those anxious kiddos, focussing on growth mindsets! There's other aspects as well, such as following child interests and giving them some choice in their learning...So very excited to get back in next term and see how it works out!

We have previously talked a little bit about growth mindset (using the first set of the amazing ClassDojo videos), talking about the brain a little bit (MindUp), and even making clay brains with pipe cleaners stuck in them to show all the connections. The kids loved it, and I am really looking forward to going into it more deeply with them!

What are your favourite hands-on growth mindset activities!!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Heeeeeeeere we go!

Tomorrow is the big day. Our little family set out on our adventure.
Almost everyone we know thinks we are insane driving so far, and with kids!
We are totally looking forward to it.

My house is currently covered in... well, everything.
My packing schedule wasn't strictly adhered to.
Things that were 'packed' (read that as thought about, partially set aside and then forgotten about) have gone missing (usually put back where they belong, fancy that!) and the result is a half-packed bunch of stuff, masses of mess and laundry, as well as random things that have been pulled out to access other stuff not yet being put away.

The family was informed we will NOT be leaving until the house resembles my neat and tidy home again.

Onto something totally different, Happy Easter.
I hope everyone safely enjoyed their Good Friday.

I am so grateful that Jesus died for me.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

It's been so long!

I haven't totally disappeared.
It's been a big start to the year.
A great start.
Gorgeous kids.
I could keep these guys. They are so sweet.
But SO intensely busy with life, the universe and everything.
One step at a time.

We have absolutely loved ClassDojo's growth mindset 'bideos'  (I love how these kiddos talk!)
It fit's in with our mindup stuff and also talking about our schema in English. It all just kind of fell together rather conveniently to form a sort-of mini 'how my brain works' unit. It's been great fun.

We even made mini brains out of clay and stuck small bits of pipe cleaner into it to make the connections.

It's amazing to hear parents talking about how their kid not only can say 'hippocampus' but can actually explain it! Or how they have neurons making connections in their brain, or how their mum needs to relax her body by doing some breathing after a rough day.

Someone once told me that if a kid can say 'tyrannosaurus rex', they can learn anything.
It totally changed the way I teach complicated concepts. We use the big words. We make them easy to understand. We explain them to our parents and shock their socks off. I love it.

On Friday we had our own mini oz animal Olympics. It was fun, even though I really don't like our Olympics unit, and even more so on years we actually have the Olympics.  There's nothing wrong with it. Just a deep seated distrust in anything remotely athletic.

We have moved through some phonemic awareness skills and have just started jolly phonics. So far, so fun!

Just two more weeks until we are doing parent teacher interviews.  I both love and at the same time dislike parent teacher interviews. I love the opportunity to get with parents and talk about their kid with a dedicated non-interrupted time. I dislike the 10 minute appointment slots.  You can't talk about a WHOLE child in ten minutes. The intricacies of their little personalities. Reassure their parents that they are making friends.  Discuss how they have settled into school, follow routines, behaviour, and quirks or concerns, academics, and basically, whether they are becoming a reasonable person.  I like that it is a special time tat I can connect with those parents that I never seem to see.  I dislike that it is always the parents that I need to see most that don't make it.

As a parent, I am not so much concerned with my kids academics- they are pretty bright so I haven't ever had any concerns there anyway, but there is plenty of support available to them if they were in any kind of struggle. Their mum is a pretty amazing tutor :D

I am much more concerned with what kind of human being they are turning into. I know I always see the potential in them. But it is nice to know that their teachers see what I see. It's nice to know that they have integrity and don't act differently when I'm not around. You have a whole life to learn book stuff (albeit, with some difficulty later on), but character development is really difficult to fix in adulthood. It really is one of those uniquely timed opportunities that you don't want to miss.

So yes. Goals for the year are well underway, I am completely booked out for tutoring and we are leaving on our amazingly huge road trip in a little under three weeks. I lost my USB with all the activities and games for the car that I was going to print at officeworks. Even though the organisational book I had thermobound there was done poorly. And the print job I did for someone's Christmas gift was also dodgy. Not to mention a few bible college assignments due before we go.

Having fun, but I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

Don't miss my new product- short and long vowel sorting mats. I couldn't find any that actually had the vowel in the picture, had long and short sounds and followed a theme, so I made these cute little animal ones up.

Vowel Sorting Animal Mats

Also, on my freebie page I have uploaded a 10 commandments display/sequencing activity that I've used with my class this year. It's pretty simple, but it has really helped my kiddo's remember them!
Some of them think number 7 is to get married. But at least they are thinking about it! We used this to talk about our school rules and how even God made up rules for us,  alongside our memory verse John 14:15 "If you love me, then you will obey my commands."

Starting our new memory verse this week- Colossians 3:20 "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."  Also have an amazing Sean W Smith song to go with this called "Stop and Listen to Your Mum".
I'm looking forward to finishing off the term strongly, and I could use with a rest... but I'm not seeing one coming soon!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Classroom Organisation Binder

So here it is!

The rather late post detailing my Classroom Organisation Binder. This binder is not about planning and student data. This binder is about keeping your classroom organised. 5 year olds have this amazing way of not putting things back in the right spot and while the room can look TIDY, it is NOT organised. Ever spent 20 minutes looking for something you really wanted to use, not finding it, and then finding it in some random place two weeks later? It isn't my idea of fun.

I keep this in a 3 rind binder, mainly in sheet protectors, but my editables are hole punched and loose. This binder LIVES dead centre on my desk. On the odd occasion that my desk is an overflowing mess (report card season anyone?), I make sure the binder is on the TOP of the pile. You'll see why.

You absolutely can not put anything in your binder after the cover.

Unless of course, it is your personal calendar. Your calendar is critical for all organisation. It just is. Even if you don't believe me right now, try it just for this year. If it doesn't work for you, don't do it next year.  I can't emphasise to you enough just HOW many times this has saved me.

On the reverse of my calendar (remember, I put all 12 months in one sheet protector) I put my school's term planner. I go through and transfer anything that actually applies to me off that calendar and onto my personal one. Why have two?  I need the school dates on my personal one for scheduling purposes. I need the school one as a reference and to copy for prac teachers, relief teachers and sometimes for parents, depending on the situation.

After the calendars, I have a to do list, hole punched and NOT in a sheet protector.

As soon as something comes up I write it straight on the to do list. Not a post it note. Not scrap of paper. Not the back of an envelope. My to do list, in my binder. I know where it is. I know where to look later.

Behind that, in a sheet protector I keep pre-punched spare lists. Sometimes one list will last me a whole week. Sometimes I go through one a day. But I always have spares. When I pull out my last spare, the first thing I do is write a note on my to do list to copy more! 
But wait! you just wrote on the last one!
Nope! It was a pre-punched spare. My MASTER copy is not punched. Has yellow highlighter all over it, and lives BEHIND the To Do List divider.

Just to clarify because that sounded confusing to me- in the one divider, in order from front to back, I store: spare, pre-punched pages, the To Do List divider/title page, and then the master to do list.

After this I have a class supplies list.

Same deal. Loose, hole-punched page, followed by the spares, divider and master in the sheet protector behind. Write it down straight away. Not on your hand! Don't rely on remembering it when you're at the store! Write it down, in the RIGHT place! You know where it is. On top of the mess on your desk. Or dead centre on your tidy desk. If it's a mess, don't stress. A day or two and it will be sorted out. At the right time. You'll figure out your schedule for tidying your desk a little later down the post.

I have given you a sample of stuff I generally find I need to buy for my classroom. Notice the one on top? Yeah, this was totally written in the order of what I need most often haha!
On the day you usually do your groceries (or Friday if you are a weekend shopper like me), simply pull the page out and take it with you. You can add the items to your personal list, but for tax (and so I don't forget why I bought it), I like to keep them separate.

I have included a donation list template as well.

I don't use this, as where I am we just don't do this. Our kid's stationary is organised through the school. Please don't hate me, it wasn't my idea... but it is a brilliant one!
Occasionally, when we need construction materials or something specific, we will put out a notice in our class newsletter.

The routines.

Okay. Here's the hardest part. In my opinion. Yes. You teach them. You schedule them. If you followed my last post, your now working on implementing them for your home. Now we are setting up YOUR routine for the classroom. Flashback to that image of a messy desk. What do you have in your week after school? Kids ballet lessons? Sports? Staff meeting? Write these commitments in first, then break your room into areas, and schedule what day you will focus on cleaning them, along with any other little jobs you need to keep up with.


Here's a little secret. I go to work early. I'm there at 7 am. I can get SO MUCH done in that first hour before other people start arriving. The first thing I do when I get into my classroom is boot up the laptop. We used to have a super old laptop, and an old copper wire network, so it could take 20 minutes to boot up. Now it's just habit to boot it up before anything else. Sometimes, I do this before I even hit the lights. But that may just be because I know if I leave the lights off, no one will come and bother me. Slightly sneaky, I know. But this is MY few minutes to set my day up the way I want. The drama that will come later can wait for me to have my few minutes.

While I fill up the kettle to make coffee, I also fill a glass and have a drink of water. As I mentioned in the last post about Organising My Life, I have to schedule drinking water. Otherwise I just don't drink it.  Yes, I am blessed to have a small kitchenette in the adjoining classroom. My morning coffee makes me feel more in control. I don't NEED coffee. It just makes me happy. Sometimes I've been caught walking around holding an empty cup just because it made me feel better. I'm not weird. We all have our things. At least I'm not a gum-chewing pen clicker! If you are a gum-chewing pen clicker, I am sorry. Maybe this will help you :P
Kidding. I don't mind it at all!

Anyway.. while the water is boiling and I've finished my drink, I then put my lunch in the fridge. If someone has come and interrupted me before this step, it likely won't make it into the fridge until morning tea. We only have fridges because it's too hot to have food outside of a fridge. Another school in our area makes their kids all take eskys, but storage is a bummer. A fridge is easier.

Then I make sure my stuff is set up and ready to go. If I followed my afternoon routines the day before, this should really just be a double check, or a safety check in case something went awry the day before.. much the same way as I am meant to defrost my dinner the night before but have to have the safety check in the morning to make sure I haven't missed it...

If I have time I check my emails now... provided the computer has finished waking itself up. I NEVER got time to do this when I was arriving at 8 am, because by this stage at least 2 people had come to pick my brain, at least one of them being a parent, sometimes teachers coming to check on what my own children were instructed, and sometimes other staff. Frequently a crying child or parent. This is why the lights stay off until I get to the coffee :)


In the afternoon, I have a reminder to go to the toilet. I know how that sounds. I'm sure you've been there.  I am easily distracted and forget I really need to go. I need to read it to remind myself to actually take that 5 minutes and GO! I do actually deserve to look after myself with a few minutes to use the bathroom. Stop putting your own health last!

Food. Important. I normally don't get lunch, like the rest of you, I'm sure. But I must feed myself. It's not only good for me, but it stops the cranky lady from finding her way out. Water- as discussed already, I need reminding and it's also important, especially.... well all the time. I live in a place that spends most of the year under an ignored UV15 Extreme warning telling us not to venture outdoors between 8 am and 4pm. There's a very big risk of dehydration every day. Not to mention it prevents headaches, keeps us from getting sick and helps with weight loss. Who WOULDN'T want to drink water!? Me. That's who.

After I've emptied, refilled and fed myself, I do the dishes. Or I try to. If I don't do it now, someone else will do it for me. But it's usually my stuff. It's not cool to let them clean up after me like that. I have to write it on the routine list though. The sink is not in my room. I don't see it. I forget.

Then I normally spend 5 minutes on the messiest or most unorganised area of the room. It could be my desk. It could be the bookshelf. It could be the stationary access area. Whatever it is. 5 minutes. Then I do whatever area I scheduled myself to clean. It might be my desk. It might be my bookshelf. It might be the math cupboard.

Check emails. Respond right NOW. Otherwise I forget.

Now I get ready for tomorrow. Write the schedule on the easel, whiteboard or wherever you put yours. As I write each item, I get the resources needed for it out and ready for the next day.

Check on my To Do List. Do anything small that you'd likely put off but don't need to. Just get it out of the way. Normally, it's all those silly little things that pile up and cause us so much stress. Get rid of them as they come up. Next, do the most urgent. Work through from the most urgent to the least urgent, and only what you have time for.

Outside of reporting/interview periods, I have a set home time of 4pm most days. Staff meeting day and Friday is 5pm. Friday is the day I print off next weeks plans and resources.  Those finish times mean I start packing up half an hour before that time, so that my kids have finally found all their stuff they've left all over the school and we can LEAVE at the right time. Usually, without my lunch box. I try to go home as early as I can. If I get everything done, you bet I go spend time with my family. Does it happen? Yes. Not as often as I would like. But it does happen. But even without leaving early, my 4pm deadline means I get to see my kids and spend quality time with them through the week anyway.

It can happen for you too!

That's an average day. Not all days are average.
I have included one of my old weekly routines for you as well, but again, use them, change them or ignore them. Whatever works for you. This is what worked for me. Sometimes life changes and my routine has to too. I'm sure your life will have changes too!


After all the normal stuff, I check all my student work that needs marking, commenting, stamping etc. I take any notes about further instruction, small group focuses or anything I need to keep on eye on.

Now is the time I make sure all my copies and stuff is sorted for the week if I missed anything on Friday afternoon. I track down resources that are hovering in rooms around the school. The photocopier is normally fairly empty. No one wants to be late home on Monday.

I also clean my bookshelf area. Some years is better than others, and I can skip this for a few weeks at a time. Last year I had a few helpers who volunteered to fix it up during the lunch break towards the end of the week to help me keep it under control.


Tuesday is different.
Tuesday I do not do the normal afternoon routine. Tuesday is staff meeting day. By the time I get back from the car park (we supervise all our kids getting picked up), I'm usually already late. So Tuesday is run to the toilet, grab a piece of fruit, my drink bottle, and my staff meeting kit, and then bolt into the meeting while hoping I'm not the last one there.  My staff meeting kit is a heavy duty clipboard folder similar to this one. It has my staff meeting notebook and a to do list, pens, pencils, erasers, highlighters and sometimes my ipad in the back section (The storage compartment has two sections), and sensitive papers and class list etc in the front section. Everything is contained inside so I don't need to worry about eyes accidentally getting interested in what's stuck on the clipboard.

Because our meetings can go longer than I'd like, I simply respond to any emails, transfer anything on to my to do list and tidy my desk before going home.


Wednesday I tackle the big areas after the normal routine is done. My easel is probably the worse, because it tends to collect all those random items confiscated and found during teaching time. I also clean the math and literacy areas. It can take awhile. These are the areas little bits and pieces tend to get shoved and hidden.  But if I do it weekly it tends to stay tidier and get quicker as time wears on.


After the normal routine, I clean any messy spots. Usually my paperwork that's managed to overtake my reading table, especially during testing times. I clear up what I call the wet area- our lino area near the back door where we tend to do our art and messy activities. It's also where we eat, so it does tend to need a bit of love that the cleaners just don't always have time to give it.


Friday is a good day. After the normal stuff,  I tidy my desk. There's just something I enjoy about having my desk tidy. It kind of makes the room feel cleaner all on it's own. After that, I reset the room. I make sure the pencil cups all have what they should have. I put away any resources I've been hoarding at my easel during the week and no longer need. I put the activities from my BUILD boxes back in the communal cupboard. I get my room back to the way it was on the first day of school.  It makes me feel happy. You don't have to. I just like it. I guess I kind of consider it part of my behaviour management. If my class is in a tidy, organised state, the kids will be calmer and more respectful of the resources. Or at least I think so.

After I reset everything, I finish up printing and preparing for next week. It should all be laid out with my planning on my desk in a way that someone else could come and teach it without stressing if for some reason I desperately can't go to work on Monday. That never happens. I only get sick on Friday. It's almost a law. But it's good to be prepared.

I write my BUILD activities on the BUILD board for next week (otherwise I forget!) and write Mondays plan on the easel.  I do any filing that's popped up during the week. I hunt for junk to throw out. I don't leave until I've found about 10 things to toss, whether its straw wrappers stashed under the fridge, a scrunched up phone message, an almost-completely-eaten-eraser or paper stuff that accumulates on my desk that I don't need. A lovely fairy seems to pop so much stuff on my desk when I'm not looking.

You are going to have to spend a little time working out your routine and schedule for organising your room. This section is definitely the most important. It just keeps you on top of things. No scrambling to tidy up before an open night or special event. It just stays well maintained. Not completely perfect in every area, but acceptable.

A section for volunteer information.

I find this important, as sometimes my volunteers pull out. That means I have quick and handy access to contact details for other volunteers who may wish to fill that space. It also means that when a last-second schedule change occurs, I can get hold of anyone that might be affected by the change without hassle.

Where did I put that?

This question is asked often. Usually by me. It typically will go like this:
Teaching partner/aide: "Do you know where the really giant awkward things that didn't fit in the cupboard are?"
Me: "I think I had them. Where did I put that? ...No.. not here. Mmmm... maybe over he-no not there either. Hmm. Let me get back to you."

To solve that, I have a dedicated place to note down where I put things that don't fit or don't have a logical home. It has been incredibly helpful.

I also have a section for great books.

I always forget not so much which books I used (though sometimes I forget what I used them for!), as much as where I got them from.
Problem solved.

Another section for awesome resources.

Same thing, except this one details what I used it for. Lesson learnt after it took me two years to figure out why on earth I had put linking chains on this list. Don't get me wrong, I like linking chains. Well, not really. But why on earth did I have it written down as a LEARNING resource? This list was for explicit lesson resources!

Two years on... brainstorming some ideas with a teacher who was having difficulty getting a few kids to grasp the concept of making connections.... oh YEAH... that's what the chains were for!
Just write it down. Don't rely on memory.

A book wish list.

I can't really begin to imagine how many times I've fallen in love with a book.... and not been able to buy it. And forgotten all about it.
Now I write them down, and hunt them down, one at a time, when I am able to buy them. Or when there's a sale. Be reasonable. I teach, after all. Books are NEEDED. I can't teach a child to love reading for enjoyment if I don't have fun texts to share with them, just for the pure fun of it.

And sometimes it's a necessary behaviour management tool.

So there you have it!

My Classroom Organisation Binder is my one-stop place for things to do, buy, where I put stuff, stuff I used and stuff I want. It keeps my room organised, and my brain from forgetting to do important things, and from forgetting important things. It frees me up to focus on the important bits- enjoying my class and having fun teaching them, without fussing about potentially forgetting some critical detail or not having a lesson prepared.  Or losing a resource, worrying about admin coming in while my room looks like a bomb went off, or stressing about why I can't remember everything like I used to.

Or wondering why everyone else seems to have it all together while I can't even tell what day of the week it is.

Because I mostly do have it all together. Without stressing about it, worrying about it, lying awake in the middle of the night and remembering what I forgot last week.

Routines and systems will make your life so much easier and leave you with so much freedom to really love what you do, and to be the most effective teacher you can be, allowing you time to relish your personal life and overall, be the best you.

You just gotta spend some time putting in some thinking to set up and then follow a plan.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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Monday, 4 January 2016

Road Trip Planning

Hello again!

No, I have not forgotten the Classroom Organisation Binder post.  I have had a few personal set backs, but I will get that post to you tonight or tomorrow!

Recently, I our family decided it would be more cost effective to take our car than to fly down to Melbourne for PlanetShakers conference at Easter time.  While super exciting, it's a bit of a daunting task.  Yes, it's in Easter. Yes, I'm planning it now. Between hubby being on prac and finalising assignments, and me having end of term parent teacher interviews, no one will have time to be organised and plan everything out closer to the date. So here I am. I'm scheduling this baby down to what day to pack each person's bag (yep, breaking it up as there will be precious little spare time), the day to buy the groceries, the grocery list, everything. When Easter comes and it's time to leave, the only thing that will need to be put in the car apart from ourselves, is the esky.  I'll even have a re-packing list for when we leave. I've sorted out a suitcase for everyone for the conference, and separate baggage for the camping part.

I'm even putting together a countdown to-do list. For things like getting the car checked. You just can't do it the day before. Or on the way, or not at all. If there's something that needs to be fixed or replaced, you will want at least a day to make sure you get it done. If you leave it to the last minute, you can end up behind schedule! I don't have time in my schedule for that. We have about 9-10 hours of driving most days, with the first and last being a bit shorter. If we take too long, we still have to keep going until we get to our camp. I don't want to get there at 2 am, set up camp and then leave again by 8. Yuk.
Not safe either.

I've managed to look up free campsites along the way and plan out our journey so that we make it to the hotel at the right time, booked our extra two nights in a different hotel (going all that way, we want to take a couple of days to see more than just the inside of a building!), and our return trip, which includes an extra night on the way out of Melbourne to go on the only Australian Geotour that currently exists. This will be exciting! We weren't initially going to stay the night, but when we discovered there were some night caches that require UV lights, we decided it was worth it!

Ive got the maps. Yes, plural. Because one will inadvertently at some point get water spilt on it.
The kids get their own to mark off our trip. I've got a laminated one for just in case, and the one I'll use in the glovebox. I have a full set of directions printed off. I have all the major intersection turn offs highlighted. I have the stopping points sorted out. I have the GPS (handheld, not car) coordinates for each of our campsites. Because you know. There won't be phone service where we are going. When you hear about these places you'll understand the assumption. I have spare 16hr batteries for the GPS. There will be no tired, bored, hungry, lost dilemmas on this trip.

I've figured out what to pack. I've figured out where to put it all (my car IS a modest sized family car after all!) I've done the budget. I've sorted out the kids entertainment. They are 8 and the other will be 10 by the time we go, so it's a bit easier. There will only be 1 movie, the rest will be quiet activities, obnoxiously loud and terrible singing (Well, mine will be. Everyone else sings beautifully.), and family games. They love that kind of thing. I know, weird right? We've also got some geocaching, which is a whole family hobby, and the kids have asked to make a video journal of our adventure. I think they are more excited about the road trip than the conference now!

The only thing I struggle with is the food. It just seems boring.
We don't do take out. So that's really not an option. I've scoured the tips on the net and most of it follows my train of thought with regards to snacks etc.
Here's the thing.  I haven't found many people doing a road trip this size. There's a few, but not many.
To put it in perspective for all you lovely guys in the US, here's an idea of our trip.

I know the distance doesn't seem very long... but 34 and a half hours of pure drive time, not including all the toilet, lunch, dinner, stretch the legs, I'm-tired-can-you-drive stops, seems like a big trip.
Saturday afternoon we leave, and camp at Rollingstone. It's about 4 hours away. We still have to set up camp when we get there. From Rollingstone, we go about 9-10 hours to Muckadilla. Yep, it sounds like a crazy place in the middle of nowhere to me too... and that's precisely what it is. Tiny.  It doesn't even have it's own website. It's listed as a 'fuel stop' on many travel websites. Apparently, it has a Pub (of course, it couldn't be called a town without a pub!), a grain store, and a rifle club that isn't often open. I don't do pubs. No re-stocking on groceries there. It also, interestingly enough, has a population of 0.

Not even joking. Look it up on if you don't believe me.

I have planned a few rest/eat/driver swap and leg stretch points along the way. Strategically located within the vicinity of a low difficulty level geocache.

What can I say. The kids love it. We see some great places we never would have found otherwise, even in our local area. It gets us out of the house, the kids away from their devices, and they not only get to experience the gorgeous world we live in, but they also learn a really important skill- map reading and using coordinates.  Along with this we teach them survival skills, knotting, camp craft and bush craft.  With all the hiking and off the beaten path places we go, I'm much more comfortable knowing that they will be able to look after themselves and know how to find help in case they get lost or someone gets injured. We did lose a kid for about half an hour while we were hiking up Walsh's Pyramid last year. It was scary.The walkie talkies we got for Christmas do also ease my mind :) 

Monday morning we will leave Muckadilla, and head 9-10 hours further south to arrive at Mirrool.
Mirrool at least has it's own Wikipedia article. And a regional shire/council listing. There's that. Mirrool also has a pub. Fancy that. A population of 234 people, it's main even for the year is a $1000 competition to see who can kick a football over a silo. We won't be there for that. No restocking food supplies here either.  Also, more strategic geocaching rest stops. There's a few around some opal and gold mines. The kids will love getting to see those. The gold mine looks like a great learning experience- it only closed in 2002 and is a big open pit mine. The opal mine at Lightning Ridge has a bunch of tourist self-drive tours. They don't tell you where to go with signs. That's too common. Or too modern. Either one. Instead of signs you follow car doors. The green drive has green doors. The yellow drive has yellow doors. Yup. Car doors. Can't wait to get pictures of all this!

No wonder people think Aussie's are weird, hillbilly Steve Irwin types.
We're not. I promise.
Or at least most of us aren't.
There are some, but thankfully they tend to gravitate to the middle of nowhere. Right where we'll be passing through for days at a time.

Tuesday morning we will be leaving before daybreak in order to get into Melbourne in time to have lunch and book into the hotel, where we will reconnect with all the people coming by plane from our Church.  A short nap and an early dinner later, and the conference will start. I'm sure by then I'll be grateful to re-join civilisation!

I'm looking forward to do the geotour at Lake Eildon on the way back (the day we leave Melbourne).  We'll be camping at Jerusalem Creek that night. There are about 10 free camping sites around the lake, but considering the paid campsite that only opens at Easter is already fully booked, I decided to book a paid one and not risk missing out on somewhere to sleep. Sleeping in the car is no fun. We've done it more than I care to remember.

The geotour is a circuit of 20 geocaches around the lake and surrounding area, a combination of puzzle, earth, tradition and multicaches. the first 19 give you the clues to find the 20th. One of them is Bonnie Doon(sp?), made famous by the movie The Castle. If you're not Aussie and don't know it... I don't hold it against you. No one knows many Aussie movies. Even Aussies. The place is gorgeous though. There is also the UV light night cache too... we love night caches. Always so much more exciting at night! There is literally days worth of caches to do at Lake Eildon outside of the geotour, such as that UV one. The geotour is going to take about 5 hours on it's own... we'll see how many we can fit into that one day!

Anyone not familiar with geocaching can google it. It's great fun.

So... food.  It's gotta last 3-4 days more or less (Saturday afternoon- Tuesday morning, Monday- Thursday/Friday)) in an esky in the boot of my car. We may not probably wont be able to restock ice straight away often enough. There is a lot of nothingness along our drive.  At the time of year we will be driving through, it will be around 32C or 90f (this is leading into winter!), so the food in there had want to keep a little while without fridge-like cooling.  My plan is to take our snack out of the esky when we are having our meal (so, take afternoon snack out at lunch time) and keep in the car, that way we don't have to have any extra esky-opening and keep it cold longer.

Also, as we are camping and driving the equivalent of 7 days (an extra night on the way home), we are not taking any cooking equipment outside of a hexamine stove and my trusty billy. For my coffee the 2 minute noodles.

At the moment, my menu looks like this.

  •  Saturday- Take from home
  •  Sunday-   Cup of instant noodles
  •  Monday-  Heated tin of spaghetti Bolognaise/ Meatballs type meal.

  • Cereal and Milk

  • Sunday- Egg and Mayo Sandwiches (prepared at home)
  • Monday- Hand and Salad Sandwiches (vacuum sealed ham, pre-cut tomato, packaged salad leaves, pre-buttered bread)
  • Tuesday- Eat in City.

  • Apples
  • Carrot and Capsicum Sticks
  • Boiled Eggs (Sunday ONLY)
  • Energy/Protein bars (homemade)
  • Muesli Bars
  • 1 small pack lollies (husband insists)
Before you ask about the milk- I'll be buying a 1 litre bottle that should get us through the first two days, and then one of those long-life shelf boxes to survive the remaining one, as well as a mini sized one to get us through if the fresh milk doesn't last.

And more or less the same for the return trip, with an extra day's worth to cover the extra stop on the way back.

 I know. It sounds like boring, basic food options for such a wonderful adventure.

So help me! Tell me what you would pack for your family in this situation!

I am giving away a copy of my Back To School Routines that I personally use in my Classroom Organisation Binder (that I will be revealing in detail tomorrow!) to the best answer!

Looking forward to reading your comments below!

Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year's Resolutions Vs SMART Goals

I'm excited to be linking up with MyDayInK for this awesome New Year's Resolutions Linky! And also Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd!  I hope there aren't rules about that!

I'll admit it.

I don't do New Year's Resolutions. I can't.
If you want to change things of your life, you write a good goal (I like to use SMART goals). You start straight away.
You don't decide to start next year. If it's not important enough to start now, you could easily put it off for another year. Another month. I'll get to it. No wonder so many resolutions go unachieved.
Smart goals are:
 Specific- what exactly will you achieve?
 Measureable- How will you know you have achieved it? What does it look like?
 Achievable- How can I make it happen? It won't happen by itself!
 Realistic- Is it humanly possible to do this in the time frame? Is it important?  Is it worthwhile?
 Timed- When will I achieve it by? What are long term steps? What are short term steps? What can I do right now?

They help you to make a plan and action it!

So here we are. My goals  for the year.

1. Water. (this is an ongoing one I started back in July)
 Specific- I will drink 8 glasses of water a day (2L)
 Measureable- I will be drinking 8 glasses of water a day (2L)
 Achievable- reminders, small increases, build it into my routine.
 Realistic- Important for my health, my family and my work.  Not a 'should' but a 'have to'
 Timed- I will achieve it by the end of the year. I will start with 1 600ml drink bottle each day, starting today, increasing to a 1L bottle, both the 1L bottle and the 600ml bottle, and then 2 of the 1L bottles. This increase will occur at LEAST at the beginning of each term, but earlier if possible.

2. Family (This is an ongoing one I started last year and am building on)
 Specific- I will spend less of my Friday night working on school, and none of my weekend. I will make sure that I am spending more time outside of the house experiencing the world with my family.
 Measureable- My kids won't ask me to stop working to do other things. Outings, camping or hikes most weekends.
 Achievable- Follow my organisational plan. Stick to it. Might need a later night on Thursday during busy times.
 Realistic- It's important for my family. They are more important than my class. Yes, I said it!
 Timed- By June. Spend more time before school starts to set up organisation and routines and make things work more efficiently for me.

 Specific- Will hide and log the geocache that has been sitting in my room for the past year.
 Measureable- It will not be in my house and will be found by a fellow Geocacher.
 Achievable- Take it with us when we go on the outings mentioned in Goal 2.
 Realistic-Should have done it ages ago!
 Timed- By Easter. Think and plan for good hiding places.

 Specific- I will read my bible at least once a day, by myself.
 Measureable- Reading my bible every day as a habit, not an item on a checklist!
 Achievable- start with a checklist. Enrol in bible college. Sign up for reading plan on my bible app.
 Realistic- Definitely possible, and worthwhile.
 Timed- Achieved by September. Start using the habit checking app as a reminder system. Try to do it BEFORE it checks progress.

 Specific- Find strengths with new class, and identify 2 aspects of this area to work on with buddy mentor.
 Measureable- I will be able to identify the 2 areas and have a record of mentor interactions on the topic outlining progress and new learning.
 Achievable- Have someone to keep me accountable. Keep a record for PD requirements.
 Realistic- Professional growth is always important, and is part of the job.
 Timed- By the end of the year. Identify aims by Easter. Write a blog post about learning in September.

2. Weakness
 Specific- Identify an area of weakness with new class and build on it
 Measureable- research and action research in the classroom, record of what has improved
 Achievable- Buddy mentor, record for PD, Possible PD or new texts on the topic, student engagement with area.
 Realistic- Must improve for student's sakes.
 Timed- By September. Identify weakness by Easter. Write accountability post in June and November.

3. Early Intervention
 Specific- Raise awareness and support for children requiring early intervention who would otherwise be overlooked due to age.
 Measureable- I will have written at least 2 emails to relevant people urging more support. I will have advocated within the profession, and will have made certain to identify any children in need of intervention and created a specific plan to address their needs the best I can.
 Achievable- Purposefully scheduling emails into my calendar, planning for professional discussions and keeping accountable data recording and analysis systems.
 Realistic- Again, yes. Just has to be done.
 Timed- By the end of the year. Will need to continue this into the future to make a real, lasting change.

4.Dyslexia Awareness
Specific- I will raise awareness in my community about dyslexia
 Measureable- I will have run at least 1 parent workshop, one blog post and one dyslexia boot camp. Make connections with local Speechies and OT's.
 Achievable- Strategically planning these events into my Organisation Binder
 Realistic- Yes.  I am the only person in my area qualified to do so.
 Timed- By December.

As you have noticed, a lot of my goals require planning, organisation and routines.
I have my entire life schematic (more or less) for sale on TPT, at an amazing introductory price of $4.00 (60% off!) just for this week! There are some great designs, and a few more to come.
This amazing 122 page document, along with my blog, will help you get your work-home-cleaning life into balance and help you to achieve your goals too! Click the picture below to check them out!
A unique colour scheme for this Take Control Organiser is being given away! Check out my Road Trip Planning post to check it out!
Don't forget to leave a comment and let me know what your goals are. Do you use SMART goals too?

2016- Teacher! Take Control of Your Life Again!

Picture this:

You wake up in the morning, excited for Saturday to begin! Only to realise…. It’s Friday.
The cat left hair all over your outfit and you can’t find that other shirt you want. It’s probably somewhere in the middle of the laundry cycle.
You rush off to work, only to realise you forgot to copy that worksheet, and your teaching partner was relying on you to get it done for the morning. Of course, there is a line at the copier.
You survive until lunch and then realise that you left yours in the car. No time to go get it, too much to do!
Arriving home, exhausted and hungry, you then realise that you forgot to defrost the meat for dinner. 
Will this day ever end? Yes, and then you're laying awake in the middle of the night, terrified you’ve forgotten something important and can’t figure out just what it was….only so you can wake up tired and begin again...

 Sound familiar?  I used to live like this. Not anymore!

And you don’t have to either!

I have spent several years figuring all of this out- the secret to being organised!

Is it perfect? 99%... for me.
What I HAVE got, is a huge file (117 pages!) to help you get organised and TAKE CONTROL of your life again!

How is it going to help you?

A Teacher Binder
I think we all know how helpful these can be. This one has student data, a section for keeping your room organised and clean, planning, and all the other important school stuff. Also contains an example of my daily routine to streamline my organisation.

A Prac Teacher Folder
 I love having prac students. But I also ALWAYS forget to tell them important things. So I put all my info into a folder for them. Never get half way through the first week before realising you forget to show them where the staff toilet is again!

A Sub/Relief Teacher Folder
All that important stuff you want whoever is looking after your precious kiddos to know in your absence.

And finally, the
Organise My Life Folder
This has sections for everything. Cleaning. Moving and Spring Cleaning. Routines for streamlining. Emergency Information. It’s all in one place.

There are several editables and printables. There are also editable binder covers and section covers so that you can put in everything you need, exactly as you want it. Start Taking control!

So what do you do with it?
Well, it's really up to what suits you! Mine works for me, my family, our schedule, and our school.
Your situation is unique to you. Can I tell you exactly how to manage your world? Nope.
Here’s the thing. You are going to need to put some time and thought into this in the beginning. You are going to need to fiddle around and change things to make it work. Sure, I could give you the blueprint for what works for me, but that won’t work for you! Your life, work and family is different to mine!
This job is too big to do in just one day. You've spent a lifetime building and changing your home, your lifestyle, your habits, your schedule. Now we need to spend some considerable time thinking about how to manage all of it and troubleshoot any things that may come up. But we will get there and you will be so much happier and calmer in the end!
Over the next few days, I am going to unpack exactly what I have done with each section, some ideas for different ways it could work, and other things you might like to include in them as well.
First up- because I'm on holidays, school organisation can wait. I need to get my own home and life without school under control first! This is also the biggest and most time consuming!
So here it is...

My Organise My Life Binder.

See my store to check out all the design options!

Firstly... Do I have to call it that?

No. Call it whatever you want. I have 4 brothers on the ASD spectrum, and both of my boys are. Blunt and to the point is how we live. We call it an Organise My Life Folder because to us, that is EXACTLY what it is. No confusion.

Next... Do I NEED to put it in a BINDER?

Not really. I do because it's easy for me to use, move, mark/wipe off. I found some really good, sturdy ones here. I like the multipack because I split my organisation between home and school into separate binders.  My son and I both use a whiteboard marker to check off things as we do them so we know where we are up to. My ALMOST 10 year old absolutely loves this binder! I know that he turns 10 in 11 days because right at the front of my binder is my... monthly calendar!
The calendar, ironically, I put in the school section of the document. I use the same design for home and school, so I just print two copies of the same calendar and modify what's on them for each folder.
I have all 12 months printed and put in the one sleeve. As each month passes, I just discard that page. I put all important dates in straight away. Each day when I check my calendar, I update all the important appointments that have made their way into my phone and ipad during the day, so everything is up to date.  I have blocked out our Easter holiday to PlanetShakers ( we are sooo excited about taking the hubby with us this time- and driving the 32 hrs, or 3000km, all the way down!) as well as all of hubbies prac dates etc. School holidays of course, went in straight after birthdays and family holidays :D
Before I discard the finished month, I do take a photo of it if anything special needs to be remembered for next year, like a new baby's birthday, or a new friend or colleague's.
I have a get-out-of-bed-and-become-a-reasonable-human-routine.  That's kind of long so I just called it a morning routine, and it's part of our families life style routines. You can call it whatever you want.
Arise and Shine. Sounds kind of Disney Princess-ish.  As cool as that is...  I actually was inspired by a bible verse. In Isaiah 60:1 it says: "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you."  And because I love The Message translation, when I looked it up it read: 
Get out of bed, Jerusalem!
Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight.
God’s bright glory has risen for you.
And I thought to myself... what a nice way to wake up!
That step is wholly and completely about remembering who I am, and whose I am. First thing, every day.
I think most of it is self explanatory. Breakfast is important. So is my morning coffee. I have to actually write down to drink water. I go for weeks without drinking water unless I write it down. Sometimes I need to set a reminder on my phone if I'm somewhere without my binder or my normal to do list areas.
Some of the cleaning isn't so much done, as prepared for. This means it's more likely to be on my mind for later.
We do menu planning in our house. Hubby is the designated shopper. So he needs a very specific list, otherwise weird things are consumed in our house. So for a specific list, I need to know what we're eating. Hubby also does most of the cooking, bless him, so the menu needs to be approved by the chef . More on Menu planning later.  If we are having something for dinner that needs defrosting or other prep work, checking the menu in the morning means that it can either be put in the fridge/sink (depending on the season) to defrost, or that I'm aware that extra prep time will be needed in the afternoon. No forgetting and eating 2 minute noodles because I stuffed something up!
Some of this applies to getting school stuff/kids ready. At the moment, I can quite happily skip those items.
Relax. Just 5 minutes. This may be the last 5 minutes I get to myself without escaping to the bathroom for the rest of the day. Make it count. This is an important key to starting my day off well and keeping calmer through the morning.
We made it through the morning! Hooray!
Now, I don't do all of this myself anymore. Oh no. I started outsourcing some of it to Mr Almost-10.
He wipes down his and his brother's bathroom with a bathroom wipe ( I LOVE those things!), and takes the clothes out of their bathroom to the laundry. He also is now helping to check the menu and pull out meat for defrosting. Score! That kid is going to be a well prepared husband one day. It's nice to think when he's 25, his wife won't be cleaning up after him like she's his mother.
Okay. Afternoons.
Welcome home? What the?
I made it through a day of life. School. Crazy shopping sales. Whatever.  Remember where your strength comes from.
This is important. If I've had one of those less-than-perfect days (who doesn't!?) and had to skip lunch... I need to feed myself. I don't want to start eating chunks of my family with cranky words just because I'm feeling a bit hungry and grumpy. It isn't their fault.  Also in this step, I must also ask myself... Did you manage to go to the bathroom today?
Sounds awful... by my staff toilet is so far from my class that it is actually not possible to use it without having about 20 minutes to spare... (almost 100 female staff, 2 toilets to share in lunch breaks... plus about 5 minutes walking... and then another 5 for trying to dodge conversations because you really don't have the time...)
We do have access to one that is much closer, but it is only one, and the staff that work in that separate area are usually using it. And the pre-k kids are normally eating and start a very long conversation about why I'm there, who am I anyway? and do I like trains? Because I've been on a train...
Anyhow. Sometimes I forget afterwards too... And I end up not going between the time when I first woke up and when I got home. Which can be late. Not good health. Reminders.
Next, after more water and a few minutes to become human again, I get the laundry going and  check the kids homework. Which should have been done at school while I was busy, but I know it was only half done. It get's finished now. No one wants to be the teacher who's kids don't do homework and forget to hand in notes.
We prepare MOST of the lunchbox items the night before. That way if we are missing anything somehow, we can do an emergency dash to the store. It also staves off some of the crazy and the yelling and the messes in the morning. Does anyone else's kids have an infinite for dropping WHOLE margarine tubs on the floor, upside down?  Not a first-thing-in-the-morning kind of mess!
Clean the messy spots. I have them. I KNOW you do. They might be hiding. They might be obvious. You know stuff piles up there. It's the first place you go hunting when something's missing. It's normally covered in junk mail and papers and odd bits and pieces that no one quite knows where to put. It might be your dining table. Or your bedside table. Your coffee table. You have one! Find it, and clear it out a little. Don't spend an hour working on it and putting absolutely everything somewhere else. I don't have time to do that. I normally end up with those odds and ends and cram them somewhere else they don't belong. Not helpful.
Then I spend 10, maybe 20 minutes, just in one room.  I have some lists I use at different times, but this is just a general one.
I just pick one or two things off the list to do each night. Sometimes I move through different rooms. Depends on the state of my house and my mood. Sometimes I get the kids to pitch in and check a few off. Mr Almost-10 enjoys doing this with me.  Mr 8 is allergic to cleaning. He likes to organise though, and the bookshelves and shoe racks have become his domain.
Do I get through EVERYTHING on here in one week? Not usually. But I know what I did last week, and I know what NEEDS to be done. I know what I haven't done in a while.  It gets done a lot more often now than it used to! Once every month or two we spend a Saturday morning as a family really making sure we cover everything.  I am not a perfectionist in this area of my life. I had to let it go a little otherwise I would ALWAYS be trying to clean, fix, organise or spray something. This way, I know it's getting done, and I'm happier and have more time with my family. I'm happier to do those little chores, and because of that, my family are happier to help with them- though some need a bit more prompting than others.
I also have a get-everything-ready-for-tomorrow routine... but lets just call it a bedtime routine. I start right after dinner. Otherwise the dishes don't get done ;)
The laundry is important. Often, one of the boys will get in and do the folding for me if there's no fitted sheets or anything. But they leave them on the living room floor. Then tomorrow morning one of them undoubtedly will trip over a pile, sending all the folding flying throughout the living room and probably hurt himself while breaking some precious photo frame or something. Avoid! Avoid! I spend a few minutes dealing with it at night, so it isn't a drama in the morning.
I ALWAYS make sure I put out clean handtowels in the kitchen every night. I have to do it. I won't let the kids. Bad experience. Trust me, you are much better off not knowing the reason why. But it gets done. By me. EVERY day.
The next bit is about planning for tomorrow. This is when I update my paper calendar.
I also try to remember to defrost anything for tomorrow's dinner. I forget most nights. That's why I have the backup check in the morning.
That's my every day, way of life routine.  Use it, change it, ignore it. That's just what I do because it works for me. You figure out what works for you. You probably wont get it right the first time. My husband spent years telling me everything wrong with my plans... mainly that they included him :P
I then also have weekly home organisation. I organise my class into a weekly timetable... why not my home?
On Saturday morning I do the nasty stuff... changing sheets, emptying the other bins in the house (the kitchen bin is Mr 8's daily chore- I definitely don't wait for Saturday to do this one!), changing bedding, and cleaning the kazillion mirrors and glass louvres that are in my house.  It's also usually when I mop. I prefer to do it at night when no little footprints will walk through it, but I usually just don't get to it. Saturday will do.
Monday I spend an extra 10 minutes or so cleaning up the house. It's also garbage day on Tuesday, so I have it WRITTEN DOWN to make sure the bins go out Monday night! No more running the bins out in my pj's, or worse, coming home to realise everyone else remembered and my bin didn't make it out this week!
I have a day where I pay my bills. It's called pay day. It's also called I'm broke for another two weeks day. I usually tidy my desk (messy spot!) a little, and check my paper, ink and laminating sheet supplies. If they may not last 2 weeks, I write them on the list. Why 2 weeks? I might be wrong. I'd rather have them a week early than run out!
It's also usually the day I plan my menu for next week. That means I need to check what's in the cupboard and fridge. If I've done this well, it shouldn't be a lot. I somehow end up with left over produce that my hubby 'forgets' to put in meals sometimes. He isn't as fond of veggies as I am. And he wont eat beans. Of any kind.  While I'm here I may as well clean the fridge. Not a full defrost and scrub. More like, empty the shelf, spray, wipe, replace.
 I check all my cleaning supplies (garbage bags!!) and make sure to add them in when writing my shopping list. Nothing is put on the list that isn't needed for cleaning and organising or a listed meal.  Saves us a lot when hubby decides to get a packet of biscuits or lollies for our date night... instead of a weeks worth of junk food that he used to get.
The kids have daily chores. I wont list theirs here, but I have given you some ideas. I will mention that I have broken their bedrooms up into sections, much the same as I have with my classroom, so they clean 1 section each day. This helps keep their rooms relatively tidy. Not perfect. But reasonable. Tidy enough that they could spruce it up in a few minutes if they had to. It also limits the amount of time they spend working alone in their rooms. Mr 8 would NEVER finish his room. He would find a book and get lost in it for several hours. Put the book away when he finished, and then get waylaid by the next one he found. If their rooms are really bad, I will send them for some 'hero time' where they get to be a super hero for 5-10 minutes and rescue their rooms from the evil clutches of Dr Filth. Mr 8 even made a paper cape to wear when he does this. Fortunately, it's not a frequent event anymore.
Then I have my moving/springcleaning/ Ahh the real estate or repairman is coming! list.
The next section I have is not in your binder.
It's personal. Some people like to have it, some don't. Everyone looks after it differently. Some people hide from it.
Yes, I am talking about the budget area.  You can use the template to make your own if you want one.
My budget, personally, is a living, active document on my computer. I add to and change it too often to print it. If yours is more static, go for it.
My finance info though, does go in here. I have a section where I photocopy tax receipts and keep them copy and original in the sleeve. I copy them because the print seems to come off and I can't tell what they were for or how much. Another sleeve for gifts receipts.
A sleeve for birthday gift ideas for each member of my family. This is handy, for when I find something perfect for Mr 8 in February, and then can't remember it  in July. I tick it off when I buy it too. Once hubby and I both bought the gift because I forgot I had already done it. Oops.
I have the same thing for friends and co-workers. It also helps me to not buy the same thing for them two years running.
Same two pages for Christmas gifts.
I used to keep a page listing who gave me what, but it wasn't really useful to me. It would be useful if you're into re-gifting though.
The next section is for Emergency info.
You will need to work out your emergency plans and contact numbers, instructions etc.
I live in an area prone to cyclones and flooding.  I plan accordingly.
If you live where Earthquakes are common, plan for that.
If you live near an active volcano.... get a GoPro and Electric Roller Skates. I wanna see that!
Tomorrow we are going to get into our Classroom Organisation Binder!
Don't forget, my Take Control Organisation Binders are on a massive sale this week!
The rest of my store is on Sale until MONDAY!
Okay, so that's my organise my life binder in a nutshell.
Share yours ideas and tips for managing and taking control of your life!

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