Aug 6, 2014

The Together Teacher Chapter 3-Corral the To Do's and Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

I am so excited to be joining Kelly from An Apple for the Teacher for this weeks book discussion.  If you’re just joining us, today we are looking at Chapter 3 in our book study of The Together Teacher by Maia Heyck-Merlin.  If you missed chapter 1 click here or chapter 2 click here to catch up. So glad you are joining us on this journey and we have a giveaway for you too!

So if you have been following along you should now have your comprehensive calendar set up and ready to go.  This helps us pull all those calendars we have together and allows us to be more effective with everything in one place.

This week’s chapter is all about creating an Upcoming To Do List so we can be the most effective. What is an Upcoming To Do list anyway?  According to Maia “it is a combination of deadlines, interim steps, and would-like-to-dos”. So where do you have these things now?  On several different notepads, various post it notes, in your brain? Mine are usually in my brain and probably part of the reason I don’t sleep welllol. Items that need to get done, but do not always have an immediate deadline are just some of the things that should be on your Upcoming To Do List.  Once something has a hard deadline it needs to be on your comprehensive calendar, and off your To Do List.

There are several different ways to accomplish this.  One way is to create boxes with months of the year on them, in a paper calendar or Microsoft word document.  When you have something that you want or need to do, but it does not have a specific deadline put it in the box of the month that you would like to begin that project.  For example you want to reorganize your classroom library, you put it in the month of October.   As you do a Weekly Round-Up, discussed in a later chapter, you can revisit this item and decide if it can just stay on the previously scheduled month or if you are now ready to commit to an actual deadline and move it to your Comprehensive Calendar. Another example would be, you need to go for your annual physical in June, but your doctor doesn’t take appointments for this until April.  You would put it in the monthly box for April and when the time came closer you would assign a hard deadline to this task and add it to your comprehensive calendar.  This gets these future things out of your head and allows you to focus on what is most important right now without having to remember what needs to be done down the road.

Many people find that using an excel spread sheet with this same concepts works better for them.  You will want to organize your list by the start dates of the items. Put it in on your list by the date you want to begin working on that particular item.  For example that PD training you said you would do in 3 months or those progress reports due in 8 weeks.  You have to begin work on these items prior to the actual deadline so look ahead and allow yourself enough time to properly be prepared by putting the date you need to start working on these projects.

Get those rainy-day to dos down as well.  Those things that someday you want to dolearn Spanishreorganize your file cabinet.  You want to do it but have no idea of when.  Just put it down.  Like the comprehensive calendar we need to get all those To Do’s whether urgent or not, all together in one spot. 

Besides the start date, you may want to further organize your To Do’s into different categories.  Some examples of categories you might need are pay, buy, read, clean, organize, email.  For those rainy-day To Do’s just put a question mark in the column for the category.  

Once you have this list it is important to keep it with you at all times so you may add to it when things come up.  So print it out and put it in your Together Teacher System (A laminated folder with different sections).  Then as you find additional things write them on the paper and add them to your computer during your Weekly Round-Up.

For those of you who like using an electronic or web based program there are many that can help you achieve this same purpose.  You might want to check out Microsoft Outlook Tasks or Google Tasks.  Some other apps to consider are Remember The Milk, Things, Tuex Deux or Toodledo.  Whatever method you choose,  just make sure you have access at all times.  So that when someone asks you to take over the next PTA meeting as you are walking your class to lunch you can get it down and not worry about trying to remember it later.

Let’s do a quick review.
1.  Pick your Toolhow will you keep your list, paper, computer based with a paper capture point, or entirely web based. I personally keep mine in a computer based app, since I almost always have my phone with me.  I will admit however, I do sometimes write things on post its, which I will now be adding to my list each evening so they are off my mind.

2.    Get everything out of your head and out of your stuff (email, newsletters, scraps of paper, etc).

3.  Organize your list by: when to start the to do, the actual to do, any specific categories you desire and possibly the length of time it will take to accomplish.

4.  Review it regularly.  Each week look over your list to see if things can now be moved to the Comprehensive Calendar or even if they have been on your list for months and you have decided you no longer have a need to do that item, drop it off.

5.  Have your list with you at all times, paper or electronic.

6.  Don’t beat yourself up for not getting everything accomplished you had planned, reevaluate and reassign a date to be completed or started.

There are some fantastic sample To Do Lists in the book, organized various different ways so you can get an idea of what would work best for you.  According to Maia, “The Upcoming To Do List allows me to empty my mind of all the things that I would love to accomplish but just can’t take on at the current moment.”  By committing to use this system it will allow us to be more effective and less stressed about remembering everything we have rambling around in our mind and on all those scraps of paperI have often been the queen of post it notes.  But alas no more! 

If you are posting along with us, link up below, or just add a comment and let us know what you think and how it is going!

Now the fun part, enter the raffle copter below to win an Amazon gift card to help you on your journey to becoming organized. 


  1. Interesting! My school/classroom has little to no storage space/cabinets, so that is our biggest organizational challenge! Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  2. Organization of papers and supplies! I am always misplacing things and wondering around looking for them! I hate when this happens! Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. My biggest organization challenge is dealing with all of the paperwork! Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. My biggest challenge is putting things away and not down. I am always looking for my read-aloud, or markers, or...countless other things! I'm loving this study. I love having everything in one binder!!

  5. Paperwork and places to put it! Good thing for computers! Thanks for a great post!

  6. Organization! I have so much trouble deciding where and how I want to file things. Because I work with all age levels, I try to color code, put in folders, then I decide to put them in binders, and I just can't seem to get it all together. thanks for your Giveaway.

  7. My biggest challenge is keeping up with all the paper work- grading papers, meeting agendas, etc. Thanks for the giveaway :)