If your day is anything like mine, then you arrive at school and begin completing hundreds of tasks. I usually start my morning rounds by heading to my mailbox where I get a few items to pass out, some specific notes I’ll have to remember to deal with, a tardy notice to correct, and an administrative request. I then walk down the hall and have conversations with a guidance counselor or peer who says hi and try to keep the information from our conversation in my mind. I then enter the classroom sit down to check my email and find a parent email requesting information, twenty emails from my district and office personnel reminding me of upcoming events. Finally, I gather up my copy requests, things to turn in and make a trip around passing stuff out as you power walk to be back by the time the students arrive.
Teaching is one of the few jobs where you are then locked into a room for several hours unable to take your eyes or concentration off your kids. All the while parents, administrators, and other personnel are working hard to give you additional items to work on once you are released from your real job of teaching students. So as the school day ends a teacher has to either race to get everything done before they leave or they simply give up and stay as long as it takes to get it all done.
A few years ago I was introduced to the OHIO principle. (Only Handle it Once) Once I learned this I started placing my calendar by my computer. As soon as I got an assignment that was due later I would write it down instead of just hoping I would remember. For emails and administrative requests I would try and take care of it the first time I got the message. The good part about this way of work is that I very rarely needed to worry about remembering to accomplish something. It would already be done.
Until the legislature deems that each teacher should be provided with a personal secretary we all have to find systems that enable us to accomplish hundreds of tasks throughout the day. Even with volunteers, Teacher Assistants, or simple organizational principles teachers accomplish incredible amounts of work each day.
(In the comments below, please tell me some of your systems for getting it all done.)