Thursday, November 19, 2015

3 Keys Thursday: My Three Indispensible Items for Managing a Crazy Busy Semester

Photo: Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
This semester, I am teaching three classes -- two psychology classes and one freshman seminar. Three classes doesn't sound like very many, but, judging from the juggling act I've been performing this semester, three separate preps are enough to keep me running.

While I'm still searching for the organizational system that keeps the paper pile-up in check at home, I have found a few tools that keep my thoughts (mostly) organized:
  • A planner with a day-by-day view and a monthly view. I got a great spiral-bound planner at the dollar store in which I keep track of lessons and due dates. I use the day-by-day pages as a lesson planner and the month-at-a-glance view for due dates, which I've color-coded by class.
  • One to-do list. Last year, I created a single sheet to keep track of the details of my planning, but this semester, I've gone back to simple lined paper -- or pretty much any paper I can get my hands on when I need to make a list. Although the single page checklist format worked when I was teaching two classes, it fell apart when I was teaching three. I haven't given up on it entirely -- once I dig out at the end of the semester, I may re-envision it -- but for now, simpler is better.
  • My laptop. For my content-driven psych classes, I live and die by my slide presentations. While I wasn't planning on creating these for my freshman seminar, I've found that the visual does come in handy. I can upload my presentations to the course Moodle, email them to myself so that I can download them and use the classroom computers or even carry a flash drive....but I don't. My Macbook is my security blanket -- even when it refuses to communicate with the classroom PCs.
This weekend, I'm hoping to make some headway in the paper pile-up department. I've tried a succession of ideas; some have stuck and some have fallen by the wayside, overwhelmed by the sheer  volume of papers produced by three separate sections of students. Regardless of the tweaks I make in that system, however, the three tools above are here to stay. 

There's no way I'd have survived the semester without them.

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