There are times when a student tells you (blank), or you observe (blank), or a teacher stops you in the hall and you say you will send them that info about a student…..but how do you keep track of these things?
Sometimes I jot something down on a sticky note, or put something in my iCal with a notification, but one system that has helped me stay on track and remember to follow up with things as they relate to students on my caseload is a column in my Student File Excel spreadsheet called “Random Things to Follow up on”:
I keep this file for all the students on my caseload and monitor list and use it daily to input information in all these areas, and a few more that couldn’t make the screenshot. Here’s a link to it on my website where you can download the Excel version: LINK and I just uploaded it as a Google Sheet HERE.
I have a note in my phone every Saturday afternoon to check out the Random Things column for at least a few students.
Usually what I do is make a check off list in my current memo pad and start going through the Excel doc, doing the things, crossing the thing off in the doc, then crossing off the students name off my memo pad check off list.
When I check a student off the list I may not have done everything for that student in the column, but maybe I did one or two things and that was good for that week. Or I may not check them off my list in the memo pad and will come back to the pad sometime during the week, or the following week, or ….. at some point!
Here are a few ideas that I have put in over the years:
– Do they have/need a TUTOR?
– Someone mentions a beneficial mode for learning (i.e. student explain in Spanish first then…) and I want to remember that in the future
– Do they need any, or more, mandatory study time?
– Have I figured out an approach/process to a certain accommodation (i.e. notes on a test)
– Should we do Multiple Choice tests in Social Studies instead of short answer?
– Are we going to try to get the parents to get therapy for the student?
– Old psych report showed Working Memory and Processing Speed to be low….do a little research into how to help with this and see if there are any things you could do to help him out currently
– You are reading up on “”Auditory Working Memory”” and maybe that’s why he doesn’t understand things sometimes…can I support that?
For example I told him that (teacher) was going on a field trip so check with them, but then he told the teacher that I was going on a field trip and it caused confusion. I don’t think it was malicious
– Does teacher check homework regularly? If not, I may need to build in a system to
support (here’s a LINK to how I support this)
-Do they need an informal behavior support system? This may come up if you are observing some things, or are hearing reports from teachers. I put this note in their file and then in the weeks and months to come I follow up with these concerns and it goes from a teacher making a small comment in a meeting to us supporting the student’s behavior 6 weeks later and the teacher feels like you are on top of things big time, which I guess you are, but it’s more just having this system and following up with it
Having this process helps me really stay up on my game.
It helps me follow through on a random thought I had 6 weeks later.
When you are working with a student you take a quick note, or read something in an email, or see a grade, are grading their work, or make an observation in your push-in, then take note of it in the Random Things column…and then you can follow up with it in the future.
Essentially it’s the bridge between just having an idea that will support a student on your caseload and maybe remembering to follow up with it, (or putting it on a post-it note they may get lost or ignored), to having a systematic way to have an idea, remind yourself to do it, and then cross it off when done.
This shift in how I approach working with students on my caseload has made a big difference. I see students valuing my support as they feel they can trust me. They may make a small comment about the short answer questions on Social Studies tests being hard, and then they find on the next test that I have collaborated with the Social Studies teacher to have a Multiple Choice version for them as an accommodation.
It’s not a matter of putting in the work, I was working hard too before I started having this system, but it’s a matter of being systematic and thorough.
It always boils down to a quote I often tell the students I work with,
Don’t work hard, work smart
I try to get the students I work with to practice this motto, and I try to live by it myself.
Getting Things Done: The art of stress-free productivity by David Allen
(I just started reading this and I think it’s going to help me level-up as an educator)