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 populationlist.com 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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