Forcing Order into Chaos

I remember when I walked into my very first classroom as a teacher. I had just been hired and the principal took me down two flights of stairs and opened up a darkened room. In a few short months, this would be my new domain. I was excited and nervous but also felt up to the challenge of teaching 7th graders English. During that summer I spent a fair amount of time in that classroom so that on day one, everything would be perfect. And Oh, it was! The desks were in rows, the whiteboard stocked with the standard blue, black, red and green Dry Erase markers and the walls embellished with posters that I was sure would inspire my students to become the writers and readers that I would make them. It was perfect.

Soon the first day of school rolled around and in rolled the kids. No longer was anything perfect. Suddenly I had 150 students that I would be instructing, all of them seemingly put in my classroom to challenge the new 21 year old teacher. I got through my first hour without incident and then, during passing time, my principal came to tell me that there would be a change. I would also be teaching a senior English class as well as a 10th grade class. Suddenly, on the first day or school, as a brand new teacher, I went from having one prep to three with students ranging from 7th grade to 12 grade (one of which was 20 years old, 8 months younger than me). Needless to say, I don’t think I was a very good teacher that year. I spent most of my time trying to stay one step ahead and rise above the chaos of my life.

One of the things that I took to doing that year was making lists. It’s the only way I could keep anything straight. My strategy was to have a folder for each of my classes where I would make a list of things I had to do that day. It’s been quite a few years since that first day in the classroom and my needs are quite a bit different now, but I’m still a listmaker. Instead of folders and paper, I’ve turned to the internet and the myriad of tools available there.

Here are some where I’ve found success.

There are many more task list creators out there. Some, like the ones above, are completely online (which I prefer), but there are also plenty of programs that could be downloaded.

There are so many facets to our daily lives that sometimes it helps to force a little order into the chaos. I have found that lists help me do that. If you have other strategies that you’d like to share, email me. I’m always interested in conversations around getting more done faster.

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