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  • for teachers

    Hi,

    I am a teacher and am halfway through the book "Getting Things Done" I am looking to talk with other teachers about implementing the system in our work lives. Keeping organized with a variety of subjects, a large number of students and little or no preparation time is a challenge. Any teachers have any ideas?

  • #2
    GTD for Teachers

    I'm a college professor, with the research/teaching/administration trio to handle. In my experience, GTD does make some routine teaching chores such as grading easier. For example, the next action "Grade Problem 1" lets you forget about problems 2-5 for a bit. However, the relentless pace of teaching means you have to be very honest about your time on a weekly and daily basis. The weekly review is crucial; you might want to do it twice a week: once on, say, Wednesday night to make sure the week finishes ok, and once on the weekend to start off right. I have used an outlining tool for years for course outlines. I currently use Bonsai, which is a Palm program, but the desktop PC component is so good I recommend it even for a non-Palm user. Keeping up with student records is a specialized job, and I can't suggest a good solution that works everywhere. I never put the kids in my address book- it just doesn't work. Mostly I use Excel for grades, but my university has a pretty good web-based records system which handles advising, class rosters, emailing everyone in a class, and some other things. I think where the full GTD process really helps in teaching is for the non-recurring projects that arise, anything from a new demonstration to dealing with student issues. They need to be managed gracefully while you keep all the balls in the air.

    Best,
    Mike

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    • #3
      How could I forget?

      Oops, I forgot to mention the 5-step process, starting with the collection habit. You have to follow the flow chart, the algorithm, and keep everything going. Ah, the agony and the ecstasy of keeping a pristine in-box!

      Mike

      Comment


      • #4
        From a teacher's view

        I am looking to talk with other teachers about implementing the system in our work lives.
        Hi there,

        A teacher for 5 years, I "discovered" the GTD methods in my second year of teaching. For the next 3 years, I used as much as I could, daily, of David Allen's methods - from outcome thinking during staff meetings, to General Reference files in my classroom, to next action development when "surprises" (like, "oh, by the way, we're having an all-school assembly today, all your classes are only 24 minutes long...") showed up.

        By far, the most effective thing I did (teaching at a high school, guest teaching at two universities) was buy, use, and teach others how I used, my In Basket on my desk.

        That "one" move (as in the Martial Art of Getting Things Done) cut down distractions, issues, and questions faster than anything else I did. Everyone, from my new students to the principal at the school knew that if I was going to "do" something, I had to "collect" it - and that happened at the desk In Basket.

        Happy to share more stories if you'd like...

        Comment


        • #5
          I am curious how Mike and Jason dealt with my current quandry as I try to implement GTD for the first time, like you Brad.

          My university teaching follows Mike's 3 prong example, and I practice as well. How do you accomodate working at home without "losing your place"? I am afraid to have duplicate files in both, for fear that the other one will always have that which I am looking for. Do you shuttle N/A's around with you?

          I am presupposing that Brad also does some prep, etc, at home, which may not be the case.

          Thanks for your insights.
          kirsten

          Comment


          • #6
            office at work and at home

            My university teaching follows Mike's 3 prong example, and I practice as well. How do you accomodate working at home without "losing your place"? I am afraid to have duplicate files in both, for fear that the other one will always have that which I am looking for. Do you shuttle N/A's around with you?

            I am also at a university, but am only on campus typically 2-3 days per week. The other days I am working on research projects and doing consulting. Last year, I used a paper system to keep next actions, etc. This summer, I switched to a Palm Zire 72 (for multiple reasons, not just for my NA list). I found early on that I needed my GTD system to be with me--not with my "office". I keep my project files at home (since that's where I spend most of my research/project time) and my course/teaching files at the office (since that's where I spend most of that time), so I keep two alphabetical sets--not duplicates, but materials where I use them (location based, just like David's NA lists). I use Levenger portable files to transport current files back and forth with me as needed, which is sometimes in my car since I travel. I keep an in box both places, and sometimes cleaning the inbox means taking something to the other location (I keep a neon laminated folder that goes back and forth for that). So far, it's worked pretty well, but the key is that most of my GTD system is with me.

            Comment


            • #7
              Home <-> Office Issues

              Originally posted by guest
              How do you accomodate working at home without "losing your place"? I am afraid to have duplicate files in both, for fear that the other one will always have that which I am looking for. Do you shuttle N/A's around with you?

              Thanks for your insights.
              kirsten
              I have been surprised recently to find how little needs to go back and forth when I use available technology appropriately. I am currently using
              Outlook 2003 at both work and home. I keep both places in sync using a Palm running Chapura KeySuite. I have a 256 MB USB Memory thingie for shuttling files back and forth, but I have also just emailed them to myself. A key here is that my department has an IMAP email server. Most people are familiar with POP servers, which download to your PC. IMAP synchronizes entire folder structures so that my email is the same everywhere. In fact, since the server (from Sun) also does webmail, I can access all my email from any standard web browser. So my electronic stuff is pretty easy to take care of. Manuscripts are electronic, administrative stuff either starts out electronic or goes there (in abstracted form) from my inbox. Administrative stuff that requires extensive paper documentation stays at work. Lecture notes are still paper. I often do them at home, and file them in notebooks at work after the lecture. I have been teaching for around 17 years, and I usually don't need the context of prior lecture notes with me. I do try to keep a copy of the textbook at both home and work.

              Paper is a different story. Paper was piling up in my briefcase like you wouldn't believe. As a birthday splurge, I got a Briggs and Riley slim brief, and it works very well in accomodating what I really need. I carry a Levenger Meeting Master Portfolio inside it. It has 4 mesh pocket panels for papers. This is my version of David Allan's "5 travelling folders." It has been working fairly well for me. One problem I haven't licked yet is preprints. I look at the titles of several hundred new papers a week, read the abstracts of a few dozen, and have been printing out way three to eight per week. This is more than I can read, and I don't really need to file many paper copies because they are web-accessible. So I am working on a system to track references to key papers. Endnote is popular in some circles but probably not what I need.

              Hope this is some use,
              Mike

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              • #8
                Next Actions "on the go"

                How do you accomodate working at home without "losing your place"? I am afraid to have duplicate files in both, for fear that the other one will always have that which I am looking for. Do you shuttle N/A's around with you?
                Yes, when I learned this in 1997, I started by making a "3-ring binder." The sections were similar to the ones David Allen recommends in his book, but I did change some to be more "site specific." Essentially, I carried that "system" with me between home and work to [as you said above] "bookmark" where I was/where I left off as I was working through projects (lesson plans, unit development, etc).

                One of the BEST things I did was combine calendars...I used one, that handled: life, school, mentoring, personal and professional. That way, whereever I was, if I made an agreement, I could check it against everything else I had to do...that was already scheduled.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Spouse - teacher

                  Esp for Jason- I enjoy your articles and have been using GTD for about 18 months.
                  My wife is an elementary school teacher who I believe would GREATLY benefit from GTD but she is somewhat organized and doesn't see a clear picure of how it would help her. Plus the standard teacher culture is stay late, work at home- always have it on your mind etc

                  I have talked with her about the benefits of GTD but in a nutshell she doesn't want to fool with it- she has "too much to do" It would almost be easier to convince her if she was out of control but she is well enough organized on her own to do fairly well...but could do much better.

                  Any words of wisdom?

                  George

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Spouse - teacher

                    Esp for Jason- I enjoy your articles and have been using GTD for about 18 months.
                    My wife is an elementary school teacher who I believe would GREATLY benefit from GTD but she is somewhat organized and doesn't see a clear picure of how it would help her. Plus the standard teacher culture is stay late, work at home- always have it on your mind etc

                    I have talked with her about the benefits of GTD but in a nutshell she doesn't want to fool with it- she has "too much to do" It would almost be easier to convince her if she was out of control but she is well enough organized on her own to do fairly well...but could do much better.

                    Hi,

                    I just delivered a seminar for a school district in Sacramento, CA yesterday. Let me share a little bit of an e-mail (no names, of course!) I received at 9:35pm on a Friday night after presenting that workshop. I think it speaks for itself...

                    1) I have the reputation of being highly organized, and now plan to out do that because of what I learned, ... and 4) I learned a lot today about streamlining what I do to be more efficient and look forward to sharing with a few friends.

                    I wrote this article esp. for the situation you describe:
                    http://www.davidco.com/coaches_corne...article18.html


                    And, this testimonial makes it worth it for some people to "take the two days" it will take to go through David's book, chapters 5, 6, 7 to "get" this...
                    http://jason.davidco.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      As an elementary school principal starting year 23 in education, the GtD principles are a great stress reliever for teachers. The teacher who most needs it is the teacher who most thinks she doesn't have time to be bothered with it.

                      I have observed over the years a huge waste of time that seems to follow several themes:
                      1. Inability to use small bits of time. When a teacher has a 30 minute discetionary period when the students are at music, for example, I too often hear that is not enough time to really do anything. The organized teacher who has a list grouped by Calls, Building (stuff to do in when you are able to do things out and about in the school building), and Classroom for the things that can be handled in the room will be able to click off quite a few things during that time.
                      2. Inability to be a "contrarian." The organized teacher gets to school a little early and heads for the Xerox machine first thing when nobody else is using it. After school, she does things in her classroom first, and then uses the phone in the teacher's lounge, the laminator, and the Xerox machine after other teachers had gone for the day.
                      3. Inability to use technology as a time-saver. E-mail is a blessing if checked only a couple of times a day at a time when the teacher is in the mood to make decisions on each one and get "in" to "empty."
                      4. Inability to *replace* the old with the new instead of *add to*. We are seeing a trend towards more assessments. The organized teacher looks for ways to kill two birds with one stone and asks the question, "How can I let this mandated assessment REPLACE some of the assessment I am already doing?" The disorganized teacher says, "Oh no, one more thing to do!"
                      5. Failure to simply let a capture tool do their remembering. When a teacher says, "I've got too much going on to write it down," it's a red flag that stuff is going to be falling through the cracks everywhere and little is going to actually be accomplished.

                      A couple of decades in this business have thought me that about half of teaching is being organized. As for the other half, well most of that is about being organized also.

                      Frank Buck

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm a middle school teacher, along with being an NEA representative for my school and the sixth grade team leader for this year. The GTD principles have definitely helped keep me focused on what needs to be done. I prepared as best I could before the school year started but when it did I came out swinging! The first few days are always crazy but I'm still feeling like I'm on top of things with very little stress.

                        For me, the weekly review is a great help. It gives me the "big picture" to see what needs to be done and when to get it done. My list organization has also helped. By grouping according to type (phone calls, computer, etc.) I can focus on one task after another at one location and get more accomplished. It's true that sometimes we say that 30 minutes isn't enough but much of that can be fixed with GTD ideas.

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