Friday, June 26, 2015

Good Systems Matter

At the end of the year there was confusion with an in-class system. There was a missing piece of data and the people involved were not pleased.

Why did that happen?

Clearly, it happened because I put off that data entry and organization, and didn't have a regular system for updating the chart and organizing the information. When I finally organized the information, that data point was missing.

Overall, it was a small error--one piece of data out of multiple data points, however for the individual who was impacted, it was a problem which is a signal for change.

When error occurs, I analyze and then make changes to the system that led to the error. The system here at fault is the morning check-in routine. In order to collect information, forms, and notes from students and follow-up in a timely way, the morning check-in has to be quiet, focused, and accurate. Teachers need that 15-20 minutes at the start of the day to respond to multiple events that happen with 20+ students.

In the morning, children trickle in from about 8:25 to 8:45. That's typically the time that a teacher is met with a multitude of questions, notes, forms, and other information. If a good routine is in place, the teacher will have time to check-in with students, respond to questions, collect the forms, read the notes, and organize any important information in ways that keep an accurate record. This is also the time when students sign up for lunch and sign in for the attendance chart. On one morning a week, a teaching assistant starts the day since I am at a meeting. So that means that the system has to be able to run without me and with an assistant's leadership.

To have a good morning check-in, it's important to have a system in place from day one, and to practice that system with students during the first few weeks so it becomes a mainstay of the daily routine. If you deviate, you won't have the time necessary to do that important administrative and response work at the start of the day, work if not done properly can result in the kind of error I mention above.

There are many pieces to the teaching puzzle, and taking each piece seriously by creating good systems and response will enable the team to work effectively and profitably. Onward.