Information Firehose

First off, let me say that early on in my current teaching assignment, I learned one thing really fast. There is an enormous amount of information that I, as a teacher have to absorb.

Obviously, there is information related to my subject expertise of computers and networking. But, on top of the subject matter information, there are streams of information coming at you that have to do with school policies, student needs and requirements (medical issues, IEP issues, names etc.), schedules (do I have that elective class today or is that only on Red days), handbooks and budgets.

In my first week (classes haven’t started yet) I was amazed at things that I have to learn that don’t even have to do with actual classroom time.

I’ll relay a few things I have learned that might help…

First — find (or have someone assign you) a mentor. You mentor will help you understand all the school lingo, abbreviations, schedules and the host of other policy issues that will come your way. Use your mentor to ask questions and understand the reasoning behind procedures. Not knowing these things won’t destroy you but they will but a lot of bumps in your road. Three words of advice… Ask. Your. Mentor.

Second — Organize your information using tools and a taxonomy that makes sense to you. My first week was orientation. Needless to say I collected a lot of paper. It took me about a week to sort through what I got and decide how to organize it in a way (categories) that made sense to me.

You should also realize that a lot of the information you get won’t come in paper form but is gathered in conversations and notes you take in training sessions. You’ll also be meeting a lot of new people and have to remember what they do and how you will interact with them.

Since I am a big user of Evernote, after I sorted through the information I got, I  added a notebook stack to Evernote that matched the categories of information I got. I now have a place to put scanned copies of paper and a place to add notes and other resources that is easy for me to retrieve.

Third — Start collecting ideas. I carry around a notebook and scratch paper to jot down ideas for class activities and to note ideas and subjects where I need to do more research. I put rough ideas and information into this notebook that I will later on edit and put into Evernote and develop further.

Fourth — Work your calendar. Figure out a way to keep a calendar that is accessible to you at all times. You will have due dates, meetings, and schedule changes. If possible, integrate this with your personal calendar so you can overlay one with another. I use two Google calendars. One for work and one for personal. I share my personal Google calendar with my work account and I share my work calendar with my personal Google account. That way, I can see both sides at one time.

Also, work your daily and weekly schedule. Make sure that you have personal time for curriculum development and research as well as class tasks (grading etc). Also make sure you block time out for “office hours” to give assistance to students if they need it and for faculty development days. 

Once each week, allocate some time to plan out the next week. Keep a weekly calendar that shows schedules, meetings, tasks that are due and subjects to be taught. Our principal sends out a weekly update before the start of each week and everything I need from this update is transferred onto my weekly calendar.

I keep my weekly calendar on paper for quick access and reference. I have one page that I print out each week that has the information I need. A copy of it come with me wherever I go. 


Seems like a lot. Kind of like trying to take a drink from a firehose. All this “outside the classroom” stuff and we haven’t even started the actual teaching process yet.

// September 02 2019 // Post ID: 385