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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

End of the Year Tips: Permanent Records

Alright, it is almost summer and things are getting crazy!  Take a deep breath...

Every year around testing time, I always felt that itch.  That "summer fever" if you will.  The desire that after testing, I just wanted to ride out the storm with the kids, shut it down, and go home!

However, I began doing little things here and there that made my end of the year more simple and less stressful.  But why just the end of the year?  Why not take small steps to ensure that the START of your year is also less stressful?  I quickly started realizing that if you leave a mess, you will inevitably begin with one as well.  I don't know about you, but there were years that I could only get in my room a week before school started.  That left very little precious time to get my room ready for all of those students and myself!

This little series of "End of the Year" tips is designed to share some practices that I found useful in my classroom.  I'll keep adding on my tips and linking them for you to easily read!

Tip 1: Permanent Records

If you have to go through your students' permanent records at the end of the year to purge old documents and add in new ones, you want to be prepared for this seemingly daunting task.  I remember when I started teaching and I was given this long list of items that were to be in each student's folder.  Some were there, some I had to add, and some I had to take out and shred.

Needless to say, I made several visits to the records room that year (and the next couple years until I learned better!)  I made one trip to make sure everything was in order (it never was...), another to pull out old documents, another to add in testing data stickers, another for writing samples...the list goes on.

So, how did I combat this?  Well, I started learning to pile up everything that was going to be added to the folder.  I sorted all items and then I alphabetized them all by last name.  Keep the alphabetized piles separated by binder clips, file folders, whatever you have!   I also took a piece of notebook paper, sticky notes, a pencil, a pen, a stapler, paper clips, and scotch tape.

Why all this stuff?  Well, the notebook paper was for making notes of any missing documentation that comes from the office (proof of address, test sticker sheets, etc...).  The sticky notes help mark where missing documents go so when you get the needed paper, you can put it directly in its allotted spot.  I took a pencil and pen for marking as needed because sometimes there are things on or in the folder that require a pencil or pen, so best be prepared!  I took the stapler in case I missed any essays/writing samples that were over a page long.  We also started stapling the "basics" (birth certificate, proof of address, etc..) on the inside of the front where it was easily accessible.  Sometimes staples were not allowed on certain documents or in the folder at all, in that case, the paper clips were useful!  What about the scotch tape?  Well, we had testing stickers and sometimes those buggers ripped or touched something else...again, just playing it safe!

My method?  Start at the front, go through the ordered list of items adding/purging as needed. I slid a piece of paper down the checklist so I could remember exactly where I was in the order.   Mark missing items with sticky notes and record them on one sheet of paper.  When finished, I stacked them back in alphabetical order, shredded the purged documents, got any missing paperwork from the office, filled it out, and went back through the sticky notes adding the missing items.

Phew!  A lot of work, but only one trip knocked it all out and I had everything I needed with me.  Just remember, you're not the only person doing it this time of year, so bring your own supplies!

OH and last, but certainly not least... if you have to move your records to another room because the records room is not large enough, bring a crate or wheeled cart!

I don't doubt that those muscles you have developed lugging home your work every evening can definitely handle the weight of the records, but have you considered how much work it would be if you DROPPED all of them on the floor?   You can pinch yourself over and over, but it would be a living nightmare, not one you can escape from!

Good luck with those records and stay tuned for more tips!  And, ah, don't drop those records!

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