Keeping Track of Everything with Checklists

As teachers, we often joke about the "things they didn't teach us in college". From classroom management systems to organizational techniques, teaching can get pretty overwhelming.

There is just so much more to do than "teaching" the class. We must keep track of EVERYTHING going on in our classrooms.

And I've always found this to be one of my greatest challenges. Keeping track of everything—keeping my finger on the pulse of my classroom. 

As I've learned over the years, you can have containers and bins and labels and keep it all organized...but it's still hard to know exactly what is going on in all areas of your teaching, isn't it? 

There are reading groups to run, assessments to be scored, line leaders to be chosen, permission slips to be collected, homework to be checked...the list goes on and on. And I've always wondered: how can I keep track of it all?

Now, in my 14th year of teaching, I finally figured it out.

Keep checklists to track EVERYTHING. 

A checklist. It seems SO simple, but it really works. Because the more I keep track of, the more I know exactly what is going on in my classroom. If I keep a list for everything, then everything is truly accounted for in my teaching. It's such a small thing to do, but has had a huge impact on running my classroom effectively.

Whose turn it is to share at morning meeting? ✔
Which students have not returned their progress reports? ✔
Which writing pieces have already been revised? ✔
Who comes to reading group with their materials prepared each day? ✔
Who hasn’t been Citizen of the Month yet? ✔

I have been using so many checklists this year, I put them together into a book:

I also made tabs to keep my lists organized by subject. I used a spiral binding machine, but the lists can be stored in a regular binder as well.

This book never leaves my side because I use so many checklists every day. And I wanted to share just a few ways I have been using checklists to keep track of everything in my classroom. 

Keeping Track of Grading
Even though these are checklists, I use many of the sheets to record number grades on assignments, tests, student notes, and projects. I also use the checklists to record scores on district assessments.

I note our fact fluency scores each month (a district assessment):

As well as our running record scores each trimester:
(I set up each column just as it is to be typed online, which has made data entry so much easier this year.)
Keeping Track of Small Group Instruction
Like many classes, we work in guided groups during reading and math (the math part is new for me this year!). Keeping checklists has enabled me to track all aspects of my small group instruction.

I check which students come to group prepared each day:

I keep records of group and rotation numbers:

I also keep specific lists to track progress, such as comprehension and fluency in reading:

This helps me track my students' progress and assists in planning future lessons.

Keeping Track of Student Participation
Thanks to the checklists, I have found myself even more aware of student participation than in previous years. I find myself trying new techniques to get my students actively engaged and have seen a big improvement in this area. I know it's thanks to keeping track of this important part of learning:

Keeping Track of the Writing Process
I use many of the same checklists for writing as in the other subjects, along with some other special sheets to track various parts of the writing process:

Keeping these lists has helped me know exactly where each student is, as well as what still needs to be done.

Keeping Track of Parent Communication
Using checklists has also helped me keep better track of communication with families. I use checklists for emails and phone calls:

I've also used a list to help organize my parent conferences this year:

Keeping Track of Classroom Management
Some of the easiest checklists to keep are those for management systems. A simple check or a day of the week helps me keep things running smoothly. I use lists to note students' turns for technology, the days they can share at morning meeting, and so much more.

I check off which students can sit on the couch:

As well as who the teaching assistant for the day:

Keeping Track of My Organization
This is probably my favorite thing to trackmy own organization! All those little things we have to collect each week? I track them ALL now!

I have lists for the permissions slips returned and field trip money my students have brought in:

I keep a weekly record of the Wednesday folders that have been returned:
(it's amazing how much this one has helped...I always have all my folders now!)

I can also organize all those small items we encounter each day, such as exit slips:

I really could go on and on about these checklists, but it would become a never-ending blog post!

I hope you will be able to use some of these ideas to keep track of things in your class. If you'd like to get this management resource for your classroom, it is available in my TpT store. There are 100 checklists all ready to go, as well as 20 editable checklists (so you can make the exact lists you need).

Oh, wait! I'm forgetting the best part!

You only have to type your students' names ONCE. 

That's right, just one time! The names are automatically entered onto all other checklists. And this resource is full of other time-saving navigational features to get your classroom organized in an instant. Please check out the preview file to learn more:

Ok, there's actually another best part! How would you like to enter for a chance to win this resource before it goes on sale tomorrow for the big Cyber Monday event?

You have to act quick, this giveaway will be over at midnight tonight! And there's more...the winning entrant will also score two other resources, from two of my wonderful blogging friends (and incredible upper-elementary teachers!). Please click on over to their blogs to enter for more chances to win the three resources:
Can you share with us? How do you like to keep track of things in your classroom?

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