Spreadsheets to guide the classroom

October 14, 2022

Running a classroom, whether virtually or in person, can be a challenging task. There are demands coming from several different levels that need responded to, and, let’s be honest, it can be stressful being responsible for the success of so many students. Often times, the default can be to deal with things as they come up, but this can often leave us feeling run down or overwhelmed.

The better approach is to get ahead of it and have a plan before the deadline or demand comes at you, whenever possible, so you are mentally free to address it.

I’ve previously blogged about a couple of techniques like using the Productivity Trick: 6 Tasks List to set up your day, as well as Using Your Inbox as a Task List as well as using the tasks list within outlook. These can be great to organize the broader categories of your day, week and month, but what about when you need to address specific issues within those tasks?

Spreadsheets are a fantastic way to approach this, especially if you are using a database style attendance or gradebook online, like most school districts, or a customer database like most businesses. Many will already have categories as their column headers and you can use these to target your daily tasks for your task list.

Spreadsheet headers for categories I sort by

I start my week on Mondays by running my first spreadsheet and I highlight the cells of each task I need to focus on.

highlighted cells by category

Then I make a copy of that sheet within the file and delete the unrelated/unhighlighted categories for that specific sheet so I only see the ones I need to contact. Then, I begin my contacts with the most urgent and work down from there.

tabs allow me to focus on one task at a time
My notes column midweek–some completed, some are not

I add a column A to make notes about the contacts and, as they are completed I note it as done and highlight in grey to allow for fast sorting by color or cell content.

Once I have completed all contacts in the spreadsheet, I simply run another one and start the process over.

I do want to note that if a contact fits within multiple categories, I do all communications at once instead of multiple contacts.

This process can take me all week to complete contacts or I may complete them in a day or two, just depending on other tasks I have to complete that week, or how heavy my teaching and call volume may be that week.

I don’t have a grades or ESE tab in this spreadsheet, but I do also have those added if I have students with grade concerns or ESE documentation I need to follow up on. I also have a new student tab when I am in an enrollment period and those are the tasks I am spending the bulk of time on.

By starting with the most urgent, I am able to work productively and not worry about a deadline passing me by. This keeps me from being overwhelmed or stressed and I always know exactly where I am. It also allows me to frontload my week, meaning I am tackling the bigger things first and am busier in the beginning of the week.

How can you work spreadsheets into your daily routine and help you become better organized and stay ahead of your tasks?

Like or comment below, and share with others to support the blog. I post weekly about teaching, traveling and family. Until next time, you can find me on Tiktok @sonya.BOMSquadleader or our adventures at BarnesOnMove.com, Facebook & TikTok at @BarnesOnMove

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