Thursday, August 27, 2015


It's hard to believe that I've now been teaching for more than ten years. Sometimes it feels like there's not that much that has changed, but that's only because most of the changes have been so gradual.

It feels like there's a lot more paperwork than there used to be. I'm not sure if that's true, or if I'm just experienced enough that I'm actually DOING more of it. And some of it is what I've come up with myself, for various reasons.

For example, when we do novel studies, we only have enough books for students to use them during class. So I sign out a book to each student every day, and then sign them back in when they finish the work for that day. It's tedious, but I almost never have a book disappear anymore. I started that policy after our department went from 90 copies of Animal Farm to about 30 in the space of two years. Each copy goes from my hand to a student's hand and back, in part because when I put the books back in the cardboard box we use to store them, I stack them neatly. Somehow when students put the books back, they end up in a jumbled mess. I used to nag them to put the books away in neat stacks, and that helped with the condition of the books, but it was one more thing to hassle them over and it was always an issue. Now it's not!

And it's not as time-consuming as you might think. It takes about five minutes to get everyone a copy at the start of class. Then they turn them in as they finish, so I generally don't have a line at the end of class. Writing each student's name down also helps me learn their names!

Then when students ask to use the restroom or get a drink of water or something, I have them sign out on a log sheet (full name, date, time, destination) and then ALSO write those same four things on a piece of scrap paper (I keep a stack by the log sheet). Then I sign the scrap paper and they use that as a pass. Then when they get back they are to sign in on the log sheet. When a sheet is filled I take it off the clipboard and file it in a binder.

This year I'm also adding a behavior log. I've never been good at keeping immediate records of behavior. While I've never had my disciplinary notes called into question, I feel more confident when I know I have an accurate description of events.

I don't like doing paperwork, but I like having it. It makes me feel safe. I like knowing I have a record of what has gone on in my class. Given some of my prior experiences with the current administration... well, one of my favorite sayings is "I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it!"


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