September is like January 1 for educators: there’s a fresh slate and appetite to start new, better habits. Here are some ideas that I’ve implemented in Septembers past.

1. Start A Yearly PD Binder.

Every time you go to a conference or Professional Development session put your notes in that binder. Next year, start a new binder. Before doing this, I would look high and low for something I got a few years back. Now everything is all together. If I want copies for my Language binder then I make a copy to go in there too.

2. Three Report Cards.

Four report cards are needed in public high schools where students are on a semester system. For the first eight years of teaching I used this four report card system in the colony school; the last nine years I have dropped to three.

Our format has evolved to this for several reasons. First, it is easy for me to use. When we finish a unit, I can put the mark in throughout the reporting period. Inputting ongoing marks has lessened the workload when report cards come out.

Second, in the colony setting you might find that there isn’t enough marks in every subject for four report cards. This is particularly true right after Christmas when the concert interrupted academic learning for a few weeks. I felt like I was repeating what I had just written two months earlier.

If you have been at your colony more than a couple of years, parents and teachers know what is expected and how close their child is coming to meeting those expectations.

I break each subject down to topics and/or subcategories. The parents know what topics we have covered and they know how students are doing at each of the subcategories.

The one drawback to a three report card system is keeping in touch with the parents. If Johnny’s work starts to slip, you have to talk to the parents between reporting periods.

3. Get A Laminator.

For the first 12 years of teaching I never had a laminator. I didn’t need one, so why waste the money on a toy? For the last five years we have made excellent use of our laminator on a weekly basis. We have used it to laminate teacher-created material, pictures, art projects and numerous other creations. Once you have one, you won’t want to be without it.

4. Start A Budget Binder.

For the last nine years I have kept track of my receipts in a binder. Hole-punch the receipt and put it in the proper category. I used to use file folders and I could never find anything. An organized budget binder (takes 20 minutes) means I can find what we have ordered three or four years ago. This has been helpful when I want to re-order something, but can’t remember who I got it from.

The budget binder doesn’t have to run your life; however if we are responsible for the budget, then we need to have a paper trail showing where we have spent the money.

5. Send A Calendar Home.

Teachers often complain that students miss too much school. Sometimes that can’t be helped. However, in recent years my parents have worked many appointments around when the school is closed. At the beginning of the year, you should have a general idea of when your meetings and professional development sessions will be. Send a calendar home so parents can know when you are gone. Inevitably there are changes throughout the year, but I send an updated calendar and parents understand.

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