Get an Organizer or Palm Pilot
Your daily schedules are invaluable organizing tools, but you'll need more if you want to excel as a teacher and get anything accomplished. Remember, you've got friends and family, too, and you'll have to organize those areas of your life as well if you expect to be happy and productive. Therefore, you'll need to add one of these two important tools to your classroom-management toolkit: (1) a paper-based personal organizer; or (2) an electronic personal organizer, also called a personal digital assistant (PDA).
A paper-based personal organizer is any kind of bound ledger or loose-leaf notebook, with pages containing consecutive calendar dates and blank lines for use in organizing the tasks you need to accomplish daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. These organizers can be purchased at office-supply stores and may feature at-a-glance calendars, pages for telephone numbers, lists of zip codes, and more.
Keep in mind the number of instructional minutes your state legislature may have mandated for core subjects. For instance, in California, 200 minutes must be devoted every 10 school days for physical education in grades one through eight. Ask your administrator or access your state's website for more information. Use the keywords “instructional minutes” to conduct searches.
However, the most important part of the organizer consists of pages where you write your essential to-do items. These pages are organized in pairs and represent several calendar days. The top of each page displays the current month and year, followed by day sections underneath, which are further divided into line-by-line hours, a.m. to p.m. Each page actually consists primarily of blank lines, where you pencil in what you must get done. Little monthly calendars representing the entire year generally appear at the bottom of both pages. Don't try to work as a teacher without using a personal organizer.
But if you're the kind of person who isn't afraid to embrace new technologies, consider getting a personal digital assistant (PDA), sometimes called a palm pilot. A PDA is a tiny computer with a compact view screen and data-entry mechanism, all of which fits in the palm of your hand. The PDA can accomplish many wonderful chores, including keeping a record of your daily tasks and schedules; surfing the Internet; handling your e-mail traffic; word processing; doubling as a cell phone; and other magical functions. Some PDAs use a tiny keyboard and stylus for data entry, while others use simple touch screens and a touchpad.
Using manufacturer-supplied software, you can also connect your PDA to a computer and rapidly access information, keeping your PDA's data current.
One of the latest PDAs is the versatile BlackBerry, produced by Canadian PDA manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM). The BlackBerry can access the Internet through wireless networks and can surf the web and retrieve your e-mail. With over 8 million current subscribers, the BlackBerry is proving increasingly popular.
If you think you're ready to take the leap into the twenty-first century and buy a PDA, a few of the more popular models are the BlackBerry, by Research in Motion (RIM); the iPAQ, by Hewlett-Packard; the N Series, by Acer; the Sidekick, by T-Mobile; and the Wizard, by Sharp. You may never go back to paper-based personal organizers again.