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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Teaching Well: Paperwork and Preparation

I've got a fair amount of paperwork to do. That work continually gets pushed to the side. Mainly the work is difficult because I don't do it often so every time I have to do it I have to relearn how to do it including who to contact, where the forms are, and how to fill them out. What does this paperwork entail?

Field Trips
To plan a field trip requires a LOT of paperwork. We now have all the forms on a website so it's a matter of opening up the website, printing the forms, filling them out, and reviewing those forms with the school administrative assistant. The trip also requires contacting the field trip location, completing the forms required from the field place, making a permission slip, sending it out, and collecting money from families. We missed a field trip last month because I didn't give the forms enough lead time since there are now many new procedures and forms to complete. I don't want to miss the next few that we have planned, so I need to get this paperwork done.

Our team was fortunate to receive a couple of great grants to develop our teaching/learning program. To process the grant funding takes time. Similar to the field trip, there are a number of forms to fill out and people to contact. I'll likely do that over the February break.

Students collected money from a service learning project. In order to get a check for the funds to send to the charity, I need to complete a number of check-acquisition steps that have to occur in the office. I have to complete the forms and find the time to do that too.

To purchase supplies through the school purchasing system is a very time consuming process, and often funds are not available. Hence teachers often buy many of their own supplies. Fortunately our PTO will refund us for some of those items, but we have to fill out the forms. Again, similar to the field studies, this is a somewhat time consuming process--one I seem to lose track of every year, but one that I have to follow through on.

Student Response
I've got a host of student design projects to review as well. I look forward to looking over their math and creativity when I have a few hours free in the days to come.

Mathematical Thinking Questions
To prepare for the in-school discussion on 3/14 and the online discussion on 3/22, I am ready to complete reading Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler and then create a list of questions to publish to lead the discussion on those dates.

One issue with all of this paperwork is that it typically requires office support, and mostly while the office staff is available, I'm working with children so there isn't much time to do that. However, just making a list like this, makes the job a bit easier. Hopefully in years ahead most of this work will be on the computer so I can easily complete it at home without the need for office equipment and staff. But in the meantime I'll find some time in the days ahead to complete these paperwork tasks.

How do you complete the paperwork that goes along with the job? In what ways has that work become more targeted and efficient in the past few years? I want to create paper systems for this as I move ahead in the field.