As education professionals, we attend a lot of professional development sessions each year and into our summers. Up until recently, I did not have a proper system for storing the information.
When I first started teaching I made a new paper file folder for each session and put all the handouts into the folders. I quickly learned that I had no place to store all of this information and I would forget what each folder had inside of it. I needed a better system that I worked for me.
Then I tried just taking my own notes on the handouts they provided. That did not last for long as they became very messy and mixed in with the credits of the conference etc.
After these two failed methods I tried a spiral bound notebook and a digital method. I loved both of these methods. Read on to see which one would be a good fit for your personal style.
The Paper Solution
I finally had solved my paper dilemma by purchasing a really nice spiral bound notebook with thick paper and reinforced sheets. The only downfall to this fabulous plan was that I can be forgetful sometimes, OK all the time, and ended up not bringing it to most workshop or in-services, thus making me revert back to my “messy notes on handouts method”.
I love the spiral bound notebook method as it contains all of your notes into one easy to access book, it is very portable and you are able to reference your notes at any time. Best of all this method is cheap. Buy a nice notebook at the dollar store or a discount craft store and you have a durable solution to your organization dilemmas.
However, if you are forgetful like me read on. I found another just as great solution.
The Two-Fold Digital Solution: Google Drive and Pinterest
I always have some form of technology (smartphone, iPad or laptop) on me these days. The harder I try to go unplugged the more I seem to have on me. I was finding that I had less and less papers and/or writing utensils available.
I thought I would start using Google Drive to keep track of my notes. I use my school board Google account (a Google Drive account is free so you don’t need to wait for your school to purchase one for you)to record and manage my notes. I created a folder called Professional Development, then each workshop gets a new document created and titled the name and date of the workshop.
I can now access my files, copy and paste ideas, share my notes with my colleagues all with the click of a mouse. I use my devices to take photos during the presentations of resources, ideas, and handouts. I immediately paste these photos into the document to ensure I have them as a future reference.
For this method to be effective you have to have regular access to personal or school technology and reliable WiFi.
With either of my methods, you have to be ruthless in taking good notes and recycling most of the handouts and keeping only the most important. Our classroom and home space are valuable so let’s not use it up on paper storage.
What about digital ideas?
I love Pinterest. I use Pinterest to organize all the great ideas I find on blogs, teaching websites and Google. Create a different board for each subject you teach or each topic you cover. Then you just have to glance at your specific board to find an idea that might spark a great lesson.