Friday, February 18, 2011

Classroom Management Strategies

Teachers can help to create a positive and motivating classroom environment by:

Being friendly

This does not mean being the "buddy" of students. It is important to keep the teacher-student relationship intact. Friendly means greeting students with a smile and handshake. It also means offering a pat on the back or a hug as needed. This does not mean that we should never use a firm tone of voice or reprimand our students. Instead, it is important to remember to have a pleasant outlook rather than a sour outlook throughout the day. There are times when you will need to show disapproval or disappointment in regards to student misbehavior. Yes, students may get mad at you for a little while, but it will go away. When they see that you can be friendly again once they change their behaviors, you will find that they appreciate that friendliness more.

Having a sense of humor

It is important to remember that your students are young and they are acting the way most young ones do. Rather than getting frustrated with some of their antics, take some time to enjoy them. When we can have a sense of humor about what our students do, our lives become less stressful. Sometimes children are just being children. Don't take everything quite so seriously and you'll find yourself having fun each day.

When enjoying a funny moment with students, be sure to make a clear transition back into the lesson or activity. It is very easy for students to take that fun moment and turn it into twenty minutes of chaos. Instead, when you feel that the "moment" is over, say something such as, "Well, that was fun. Okay, now it is time to focus back on our lesson. Everyone turn to page..." You'll get a bunch of "Aww's" and protests, but be firm and start back on the lesson. You'll want to find a way to transition that meshes with your personality. However, if you do not find a way to stop and re-focus students, they will find a way to stretch out a little bit of fun until it becomes no fun at all.

Having a good rapport with students

Get to know your students. Try to take a little bit of time each day to talk one-on-one with each of your students. Greet them at the door. Check their homework calendar at the start or end of class and use that time to say hello and find out how they are doing. Ask about their family, friends, pets, hobbies. If they are involved in sports, ask about the latest game. The more we get to know our students as people and treat them as such, the more our students will respect us as a person. It is very easy to get caught up in the day to day "teaching" and forget that we have a group of individuals with us. They each have their own history, their own stories, their own likes/dislikes, that are as important to them as ours are to us. Take some time to get to know those things about your students.

Effectively communicating our desires and expectations

Expectations are not just classroom rules. Don't forget about the life-skills you expect from your students each day. Do you expect honesty, integrity, cooperation, dedication, perseverance, personal best from your students? Make those expectations clear. Explain to your students exactly what it means to be dedicated or to have perseverance. What does this look like or sound like?

What kinds of work behaviors and attitudes do you expect from your students? Explain exactly what you want to see and hear from your students each and every day.

Procedures are another type of expectation. How do you expect students to enter the classroom, leave the classroom, do the reading workshop or writing workshop? Write these expectations out into clearly defined steps on procedures posters and hang them on your wall. This serves as an excellent reminder for everyone.

Understanding that students CANNOT read our minds

What are your pet peeves? What behaviors/things really annoy you? Often our students may hit upon one of our pet peeves and never even know it. These behaviors grate on our nerves and affect our attitude. This is not fair to our students. They cannot be expected to read our mind. Be sure to communicate clearly what is and is not tolerable in your classroom.

I do not advise saying, "______ is a pet peeve and it really irritates me when you do this." That just offers ammunition for those challenging students who are looking for ways to make you angry. Instead, word it so -- "I expect you to ___________." (for example, "I expect each and every person in my classroom to pick up any trash around their desk before they leave the classroom. Even if you did not make the mess, I want it picked up and thrown away.")

Being organized (that means never saying, "Now where did I put that lesson plan?)

Do you know where your lesson plans are? Can you find the handouts you copied for this class? The Day of the Week folders that we discussed in an earlier newsletter are an excellent way to keep all of these materials organized. When you know where everything is and what you are doing, your class will run smoother. Why? Well, you are not wasting time looking for supplies and plans. What do you think your students will be doing while you search for what you need? Playing around, of course. They will begin to talk, read, doodle, and mess around because they are bored. Then it takes another five minutes to get everyone calmed down and focused on the lesson/activity.

Being well prepared

Many of the strategies we offer in our newsletters are geared to help you be well-prepared. It is important to think through what you plan to do during each part of the day. When you know what you are doing, the students will follow along. When you are confused and unsure, the students will be confused and unsure as well. This is one of the reasons why we encourage teachers to plan in time increments. When you plan out for everything, including restroom breaks and walking down the hallway (elementary), you know what will be happening throughout the day.

Be sure to have all of your materials ready before you begin the lesson. This is a big part of being prepared. If you don't have enough copies or are not prepared for a lesson to go faster than you expected, what do you think will happen? You will get flustered and that will cause the students to get disruptive. Check, double-check, and triple-check to be sure you have everything you need at least a day or two before each lesson. If you can't remember, then schedule a time on your calendar.

Ex: Monday -- 4:00pm -- Read over lesson for Tuesday. Check to be sure materials are out and ready. Set up the board/overhead for Tuesday's lesson(s). Read over lesson for Wednesday. Check materials off of materials list for lesson. Make copies for lesson. Make transparencies for lesson.

Be as detailed as you need to be. You might even think about creating a checklist to be sure you have everything ready.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Getting Students to do Quality Work

How do you get kids to do quality work both in and out of the classroom?

I begin each year by taking time to talk to students my expectation that they each do their "personal best." Then I show a few examples of what personal best does and does not look like. We also talk about how each student has a different level of personal best. My big message to the class is that if I do not see a student's personal best effort on an assignment, I will not accept it. This means they will have to do it over. I always tell my students that it takes less time for them to focus on the job and do their very best the first time than to have to do the assignment 2 or 3 times until I find it acceptable.

It is also important to be consistent about expecting quality work products. I "Okay" each project before it is turned in. Students show me their work, and usually at a glance I can tell whether it is up to par or not. Each student has a different personal best, so I accept different levels of work depending on the student. I can also see who is actually putting in effort as I constantly walk around monitoring while students are working on the project. Between monitoring and giving my "okay" on an assignment, I can make sure that students are doing their personal best.

In the beginning children of all ages will test you, continuing to do quick and sloppy work. However, the more you send them back to do it over until they get it right (even if it becomes extra homework), the more they will start to do it correctly the first time.

It also helps to have an example prepared showing your expectations for the final product. Show students the quality of the picture. Point out the features and details you want to see in their product. Read the written part and again point out the specific details you want included in the content of their project. You might also put guidelines on the board or overhead. Example for a postcard activity with a reading assignment: "Postcard must include a detailed drawing of 2 characters including the type of clothes he or she would wear, and a place you might see this character from the story; colored pencils only (no crayons or markers); entire front of postcard must be filled with drawing and color" "Content must include at least: ____________, _________, and ____________." This gives students a checklist of sorts to look at while they are completing their project. It also provides more guidelines than just saying "Create a postcard about 2 characters from the story. I want a drawing on the front and character traits on the back."

Providing more guidelines for students on open-ended creative projects and assignments helps them to meet your criteria for the assignment. Guidelines also offer more structure to help students. This is especially important when you are just beginning to use these kinds of activities. Add in a reminder discussion about personal best, and do not accept work that is under par for the student. The combination of structure and high expectations should result in better end-products.

I follow this advice with my son at home when he completes homework. He has a tendency to work quickly in order to get it over with. However, he is not allowed to do any other activities (TV, playing, sports, etc.) until I check his homework and see that it is his personal best. If I do not think it is neat enough or done correctly, then he has to go back and do it again. Although it is frustrating to him, after a few weeks of listening to me say, "Do it again with your personal best effort," he completes his work as he should the first time around.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are You a Student of Human Nature?

If you are a teacher or are planning to become a teacher, then your answer to this question should be a resounding, "Yes!" Teaching is not just a matter of passing along information and knowledge from one generation to the next; it is also all about understanding and interacting with human beings. While caught up in the rush of lesson planning, grading papers, school paperwork, meetings, and staff development, it can be hard to remember that we are dealing with a group of human beings on a daily basis. Whether you teach young children, youths, adolescents, young adults, or adults, they are all still human beings at the core and will react and respond to you as a human being.

So what can you do to better understand and interact with the group of human beings you currently teach? Become a student of human nature. This means that you distance yourself from the actions and start asking, "Why?" Why is this student so angry when he or she comes into my class every day? What is causing this anger? Is it me? Is it school? Is it because of parents or friends? Is it something happening outside of school? Until you know the answers to these questions, your interactions will be based on half-truths and conjecture.

Why is this parent constantly in my face? Is it something I've done or not done with their child? Is it based on past interactions with teachers and false assumptions about me as a teacher? Is it based on past treatment from the school or other schools? Does it come from a true desire to be an advocate for the child or is it a control issue?

When we take the words and actions of students, parents, and colleagues personally, we react as though what is being said or done is a personal attack on us. When we distance ourselves, ask the questions, and engage in communication with that person, we have better understanding. With clearer understanding, it is easier for us to work towards a solution to whatever the issue may be.

Another part of this understanding comes from looking at both sides of the issue fairly. As human beings, we tend to want to look at only our side of a situation and not the perspective of the other side. This is human nature. Take some time to put yourself "in the shoes" of the other person and ask how you would feel and react in the same situation. This includes your students sitting in your class and the parents with whom you communicate. The more we can understand other people, the better we can interact in a positive manner.

As a student of human nature, watch the interactions between your students when you have a moment or two. Watch the interactions between your administrator and the staff. Watch the interactions between your colleagues. Especially take note of the interactions between yourself and others. Then take some time to think about those interactions. Why did she say that? Why did he react that way? What did you feel when someone made that comment to you? How did you react? Why? Do you see any patterns? How do those patterns evolve? How do they affect the current interaction and future interactions between these people? By gathering this information and using it, you can then determine what kind of interactions you want to have with other people whether they are students or adults and deliberately modify your own words and actions to bring that about. Without asking these kinds of questions and without being a student of human nature, your interactions will continue to be instinctive rather than deliberate.

Help your interactions be positive ones by gaining understanding of how people "work." The more you observe and reflect and look for understanding, the more it will come to you. The better you understand how people "work," the better you will be able to interact with your students, with parents, and with colleagues. Just remember, a student of human nature seeks first to understand and then to react.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Homework Tips

Assigning homework in moderation can be useful to instill values of self-discipline and responsibility in older students. It can be effective to build a positive work ethic in our students. However, it must be done in moderation.

Teachers should remember that when homework is assigned, one student could easily spend hours on the same assignment that takes another student just 15 minutes to complete. Why do we need to assign 25 two-digit multiplication problems when 5 will show us whether or not students can apply the concept? If practice is what you seek, keep it in the classroom under close supervision. You do not want to deal with the frustration of working with a student who has practiced a skill incorrectly over and over without the benefit of correction and re-teaching. This happens frequently when homework is used to practice a skill. The student must then "unlearn" the incorrect application and "relearn" the correct method. This can put the student further behind in his or her academic progress.

Keep in mind the following factors which influence a child's ability to complete homework:

  • Some students live in a chaotic home environment with many children. The student may have adult responsibilities within the home.
  • Some students are without parental supervision for most of the time after school hours.
  • Students living in poverty may not have a place to complete homework nor the supplies needed.
  • Older students might work after school.
  • Students have busy family and extra-curricular lives including sports, church, community service activities, and family events which are just as important as their school life.

Procedures are important to help students and parents know what you expect in regards to homework assignments. Type a list of homework procedures and expectations to give to students and parents. One copy should go in the student's binder and the other should be posted on the refrigerator at home. It is also a good idea to post these procedures in your classroom blog, Web site, or online parent portal.

  • What homework stays the same each night or each week?
  • Do you expect parents to sign the academic calendar once a week?
  • When and where do you expect assignments to be turned in?
  • What is your policy for absences and late-work? How long do students have to turn in the assignment? How will their grade be affected?


  • Offer positive feedback for students who turn in their work on time.
  • Allow students two days for every one day absent to make up their work. Remember, they are now having to complete double the assignments, so cut them a little slack.
  • Take off points each day an assignment is late. I usually take off 5 points for each day. Be sure to clearly explain your policy for late work.
  • Remind students of missing assignments each day. Many will forget that they owe you the work. If your school has an online portal where assignments and grades are posted for student and parent viewing, remind everyone to check this valuable tool frequently.
  • Provide before or after-school time to make up missing work or to complete homework while you are available for supervision and help.
  • Set aside one place in the classroom where assignments are turned in to be graded. Keep this the same all year to cut down on confusion.
  • Have parents sign the Homework Procedures/ Policy form to be placed in the students' binders.
  • Do not take away recess as punishment for no homework. This is counter-productive and will cause further stress in the classroom.

Homework can be stressful for everyone. Students and parents may feel overwhelmed by projects and activities and you may feel frustrated that homework is not turned in regularly. It is important to find a balance somewhere in between. Take some time to reflect about the purpose of homework for your class. Why do you assign certain assignments to be completed at home? Communicate that purpose to students and parents to help them understand this is not simply busywork. Keep that purpose in mind whenever assigning homework. Will this homework help students reach learning goals more effectively than doing the work in class? These are just a few questions you should keep in mind when planning and assigning homework to make sure it is purpose-driven and effective for student learning.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ease Stress by Being Prepared

As a new teacher your life is already stressful. You are entering a new job, setting up a new classroom, dealing with new procedures, completing a ton of paperwork, and having to relate to many new people over the course of a day. Unfortunately this stress will not end anytime soon. For the first several months you'll find yourself running from task to task trying to keep up with everything that is required from you. There will be more forms to complete, papers to grade, parents to contact, lessons to plan, and then of course you are teaching all day long as well.

One of the best ways you can lower the amount of stress you deal with on a daily basis is to be prepared. Some of this preparation requires organization. If you are having trouble getting yourself organized, you might want to read my earlier column on "Getting Organized in the Midst of Chaos" for a few strategies to help. Preparation is absolutely the key to being a successful teacher. The more thought and effort you put into your lessons and your job, the better you will be. You will also be less stressed out during the year.

The first thing you want to do is begin some routines. The first routine is lesson planning. Choose a day of the week and make a firm appointment to write lesson plans on that day. Take into account faculty meetings and other events that you have going on in your personal and work life when determining this day. For me Wednesday was the best day for planning. It gave me enough time to get materials copied and shore up any unknown details before turning them in to the Principal on Friday. By having lesson plans and materials completely finished before Friday you are giving yourself a little time over the weekend to relax. Don't allow friends or even colleagues to sway you from completing your planning day. Just remember that whatever you don't complete at school or during the week must be done at home on the weekend.

As soon as you plan your lessons, go ahead and gather all of the materials you will need for the week. If you have handouts, go ahead and make the copies. Get the books or magazine resources you need from the library and set up any Power Point presentations or video clips you plan to use. If you need to sign up for the computer lab or need help from another colleague, contact them immediately. Don't wait to the last minute. Put requests in writing and follow-up with an email.

Now you may be worried that you'll have a ton of papers all over your classroom. This is where organization comes into play again. I create folders for each class for each day of the week. For elementary teachers this is as easy as one manila folder per day. You might want to color code them and label them with a marker. Place all handouts and materials for the day in its special folder. Put your lesson plans on top of the materials inside the folder. Place larger materials in a special area in your room and be sure to mark it clearly.

Secondary teachers will want to organize differently. I would suggest either a plastic crate or a filing drawer. Have one hanging file folder for each day. Then, inside the hanging file folder place one manila folder for each class you teach. You might color code the folders according to class period so that they don't get mixed up. Again, place all copies & other materials in this folder and put your lesson plans in the front. What you'll find is that you are no longer running around trying to find the handouts or materials for each lesson. Everything is all together in one location. Additionally, if you have an emergency or an unscheduled meeting comes up, everything a substitute or relief teacher will need is in each clearly marked folder, including the lesson plans. You won't need to worry about gathering everything and getting it organized before leaving the classroom. You won't need to stress over writing out plans for a substitute while you are deathly ill.

The last routine you want to develop is setting up your classroom, Power Point, or overhead before you leave for the day. If you are teaching elementary school, go ahead and set up your white board (or blackboard) with your focus assignment, agenda, objectives, homework, and any other information students need. Do this as soon as your students leave the room at the end of the day. Get out the folder for the next day and place it on your desk, podium, or overhead so that you are ready to begin. Review your plans and double-check that you have all of your materials in the folder. Now do whatever else needs to be done after school. By making this a daily routine you are ensuring that your classroom is ready to go no matter what. If you get sick, have a flat tire, or have an early meeting that goes on too long, the students will be able to enter the classroom and get started without you. The substitute or relief teacher will have all they need right at their fingertips and you will not have to stress out over not being there.

Secondary teachers will want to set up their "board" information either in Power Point or on a transparency. Type out the information listed above either in a Word Document or as a Power Point presentation for each class. You'll need one transparency or Power Point per prep you teach. Get the first period one ready as soon as the students walk out the door and have it on the overhead or computer. Be sure to leave instructions in bold to turn on the overhead or computer (just in case you cannot be in the classroom). Have your daily folder ready on your desk, podium, or overhead along with whatever materials are needed for the first class.

By having all of this ready to go before you leave the classroom each day you are ensuring that your classroom can continue to run smoothly whether you are there or not. It relieves stress on your part because you will not have to worry about writing up last minute plans while you are sick or worry about your students having their assignments ready to begin if you are late for any reason. Get in the habit of preparing your classroom for the next day as soon as your students leave. This makes certain that it will get done before you are distracted by all of your other duties.

The first year of teaching is very stressful. However, by putting in place some very simple habits, you can reduce some of that stress. Being prepared is not only helpful for you, but for your students and any guest or relief teachers that may be working in your classroom. It shows your principal that you are a professional and that you are efficient in getting your job done. It shows parents that you are on top of your job so that they can feel secure in knowing their child is in your class. Best of all, by taking a little time throughout the week to prepare, it gives you some time for yourself.

Reprinted from Emma McDonald's column at Education World.

Managing the Parent Teacher Relationship

There is one thing every teacher dreads more than changes in district policy, new standardized tests, and additional responsibilities required by the state – the angry parent. Nothing can ruin a day faster than being called to the principal's office to face a disgruntled, frustrated, or demanding parent. Managing the parent-teacher relationship can be a challenge for everyone. What can we, as teachers, do to develop a relationship with parents and minimize the angry encounters throughout the school year? The key is being proactive by informing and interacting with parents in a positive manner.


Keeping parents informed from the beginning of school is your first move towards managing the parent-teacher relationship. Most of the confrontations between parents and teachers result from a lack of communication from school to home. Gone are the days when parents sent their children off to school and trusted completely that the school and teachers would take care of everything. Today's parents want to know what their children are doing in the classroom and how it is being done. We live in an information age and that is exactly what our parents expect from us – information.

You can start by providing the basic facts to parents about your classroom expectations for student behavior and work product. Parents of elementary students will also want to know their child's daily schedule. Send home information about your classroom management and discipline strategies so there are no misunderstandings about what is expected and the consequences for making poor choices. Teachers should also send home the grading policy. If you or your school has a website, consider posting the more important details of your classroom policies here and refer parents to view it as needed.

It is also important to keep parents informed throughout the school year as well. A bi-monthly or monthly newsletter is a great way to let students and parents know about upcoming events, units, and due dates. You can also use the newsletter to explain commonly used acronyms, skills taught, or learning strategies used in the classroom. Again, this kind of information soothes those over-anxious parents who want to know what is happening with their child during school hours. The newsletter is also a great way to celebrate birthdays and offer a thank-you to volunteers and chaperones. If you and your parents have access to email, consider emailing your newsletter and other information. This will make sure the parent receives the information.

Lastly, make sure you send home notices when students are missing two assignments or have received two low grades. By sending home this information after the second instance, you are providing the parent and child more time to turn in missing assignments or to improve grades. Waiting until the last minute puts a strain on you, the student, and the parent. Just like with our health, early detection is the key to resolving a problem before it becomes a major issue. When receiving bad news in a progress report or near the end of the grading period, parent frustration will, more than likely, be aimed at you. However, when notified early, parents will put the heat on their child to improve grades and get assignments turned in. Otherwise, they cannot reprimand their children and support you in your efforts.


Unlike informing, which is a one-way type of communication, interacting requires two people. Because there are two (or more) people involved, interactions are influenced by many factors. Some of these include cultural backgrounds, level of education, emotions, and personal agendas. As the teacher you approach all interactions with parents from one point of view. The parent will be coming to you with a completely different point of view. The levels at which these factors meet and are in harmony often determine the success of the interaction. So then, how can you create more positive interactions with parents?

First, initiate contact with the parent. Don't wait to be called. Take some time during the first several weeks of school to briefly call and talk with each parent. For secondary teachers this may seem overwhelming, but it can be handled by calling ten parents a night. You may even prioritize and call the parents of those students who exhibit signs of behavior and/or academic issues first. This will ensure that your first phone call is a positive one. Spread the rest of the phone calls out over the first month or two.

Begin your call by introducing yourself and offering a positive comment about the student. Next, ask the parents if there is any information they would like to share with regards to their child. This information could be very helpful to you in managing the behavior or encouraging the student to higher performance levels in your class. Remember, the parents know their children far better than you do at this point. If you are already noticing a potential problem, gently mention it and ask for suggestions from the parent in handling the situation. Next, encourage parents to ask you any questions they have at this point in the year. Near the end of the conversation, let the parent know the best times to contact you and offer your school number or email.

This type of phone call near the beginning of the school year will go a long way towards developing a positive relationship between you and the parent, especially if the child is one who will be a constant challenge in the classroom. Now the parent knows who you are and has experienced your interest in their child. They will be more likely to call or email you calmly with a concern rather than storming up to the school in a rage.

Second, be aware of cultural differences when interacting with parents. Should you address the father first or the mother when conferencing with both? Is it acceptable to call a parent by first name or will they consider it insulting? These little details can sometimes make the difference between parents who are willing to work with you and those who are not. Also, be aware of how your cultural background influences the way you interact with others. You may be more casual in your conversations which could be interpreted by other cultures as uncaring or flippant. Having a basic understanding of the different cultures within your school will help you better prepare for parent interactions.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting Organized in the Midst of Chaos

Here you are with school in full swing, students, parents and colleagues coming at you from all sides, and you feel that you are in total chaos. Oh yes, some of it is planned, but what with every new piece of paperwork, documentation, and request thrown your way, you have no idea what to do with it all. Do you find yourself staring at all those piles of papers on your desk wondering what to do with them all? It isn't easy getting organized, especially when there is so very little time. Below are a few tips that I hope you will find helpful. They are not designed to be a quick fix, but rather to help you take baby steps in getting yourself a bit more organized than maybe you are right now.

"Baby steps" is a concept I learned from someone called the Fly Lady. She is an organization guru and has quite a following. She recommends two things that I in turn will recommend to you. The first is using a timer. When you are faced with an enormous pile of mail, memos, and forms with only 30 or 45 minutes of conference time, use a timer. Once you have checked your box and returned to your classroom (for those of you not kicked out during that class period), set your timer for 10 minutes. I like setting it for 10 minutes because it doesn't take up too much of my time. Try to get whatever you can organized during that 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, stop. You won't have gotten everything accomplished during that time, but you will have made a start. If you spend 10 minutes a day working like this, before long you'll be on top of that paperwork and have organized files.

The second piece of advice is to work forwards before working back. Once you've set that timer for 10 minutes, start with whatever mail, memos, and forms you found in your box today. Get those either filed, thrown-away, or completed and ready to return. If you have any time left, start working at the top of that pile on your desk. This way the paperwork does not continue to pile up on you. You can respond in a timely manner and stay current with your mail, communications, and other necessary forms.

Every piece of paper on your desk should have a home whether it is the trash can, a 3-ring binder, a file folder, a tray, or to be returned to someone else. I don't know if you are the kind of person that likes to hang on to magazines or not. I am. I just love catalogs and all those lovely things I might buy one day. What I started doing to keep the catalogs from piling up is to pull out the pages and the order form from each catalog that interests me. I punch holes in them and place them in a binder. I like the binder because I can then tab each particular catalog rather than stuffing them all in one folder. When I have the time (and money) to order, then I can go to that binder and find what I need. However, if you do not have a home for this kind of mail, it can very easily pile up on you and become overwhelming.

For those of you without the flexibility of having your classroom or office space available during your planning period, make a commitment to stay after school for at least thirty minutes. Set your timer for 10 minutes at a time and go from there. Even when faced with papers that need to be graded, you can use the 10 minute strategy to start working your way through those piles. Also, remember that not everything must be graded with the same intensity. Sometimes a simple check or minus will work.

Again, if you keep working at it 10 minutes at a time, before you know it that pile will start shrinking to nothing. Everything will have a home where you can easily find it. Also, once those paperwork piles are gone, take what is left of the 10 minutes and start making specific homes for the other areas in your classroom. Make no mistake; this is a process and not a quick fix. Sure, you can spend 6 or 7 hours one day after school going through it all, but that kind of behavior quickly leads to burn-out. You are so tired of going through paperwork that you let it pile up again and before you know it you have another evening of doing nothing but sorting through papers. Just take it one step at a time, 10 minutes a day, and watch those paperwork piles fade away!

Written by Emma McDonald, reprinted from her column on Education World.

To view the original, go to