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As an instructor, there are several things that I use daily that help make my job much easier. I am going to share them with you. Perhaps, you will find that they will make your life a bit easier in the classroom too.
1. Post-It Notes
Personally and professionally, these have become a staple in my life. I write myself reminders constantly. I am so busy that if I try to rely on my memory, I will forget and will wake up in the middle of the night in a panic remembering what I forgot to do. Stress! So, I write down reminders as soon as things pop into my head, and I post them in an appropriate location. My computer monitor at work, my bathroom mirror at home, and even in my car, on the dashboard. I keep post-it notes with me – in my desk drawer, my work bag, my car, my purse (and even in my night stand next to my bed – in case I do have a thought in the middle of the night – jotting it down allows me to go back to sleep more easily). They serve as my “personal assistant”.
2. My Planner (and cool pens)
I use a planner. Every December, this is definitely something I look forward to – getting a new planner. This year, I was gifted a really fun one from one of my wonderful Instructional Assistants (more about them in a post to come) that is color coded and includes stickers. It has a weekly view with journaling room to write down notes. It also includes a monthly view so that I can scan my week and month in a glance. I spend time planning. This helps me to get all of the important things happening throughout the week and month scheduled. It allows me to keep track of my schedule, my husband’s schedule, and my kids’ activities. By writing down commitments, then I can determine weeks when grading or other tasks will be difficult to complete, so that I can plan ahead or make adjustments to help avoid unnecessary stress. Again, by writing things down, I am less likely to forget, which also reduces stress!
This accessory is not only practical, but stylish! Vera Bradley makes the cutest totes, backpacks, and lunch bags. There are a variety patterns to choose from. These bags are cute and practical and allow me to carry material to my classes. There are plenty of pockets and compartments to store everything that I need for class to run smoothly and successfully. I also like that different size cosmetic bags can be used to hold pencil pens, whiteboard markers, personal items (like chapstick, cough drops, hand cream, etc.). New patterns come out a few times a year. But, I like to shop sale patterns/items online. Who doesn’t love a good sale!?!?
4. Name Tags
I start every semester by having my Instructional Assistants create name tags for students in my classes. This not only helps me to get to know their names, but it also helps to create a classroom community, because students can use the name tags to learn their classmates’ names too. It helps the class to feel more cohesive. Name tags are passed out at the beginning of each class, and collected at the end of every class (because if I don’t collect them, they never return to class). My classes are about 90+ students, and I teach a minimum of four every semester. By using name tags, I can learn the majority of my students’ names. Learning students’ names has many benefits including making the class more meaningful and enjoyable (for the students and for you), tracking attendance, making connections with students, and checking-in with students who are struggling.
Tip: Print the name tags on cardstock so they can be folded and will easily stand up. You could also pass out cardstock and have students make their own name tag on the first day of class. You may also wish to bring markers to class if you choose to allow student to make their own.
5. My Clicker
A clicker allows me the freedom to move around the classroom as I lecture. I can lecture from anywhere in the classroom, and I can click through powerpoint slides projected with ease. I am not tied to the podium in the front of the room, which definitely helps with classroom management. My clicker also has a laser pointer so I can point out important information on the slides being displayed.
6. Finally, COFFEE!
I enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, mid-morning, before a late afternoon class. Coffee is also great when collaborating….. in my office with a colleague or a meeting with an adjunct instructor in the coffee shop. Or with a student in the library discussing an assignment or career options. There is never a bad time for a cup of coffee!
What do you find it hard to teach without? Add your comments below.