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The Powers of a Notebook

We all know that as a teacher you have a thousand and five things going on at once. Nadine shares the tips and tricks she’s learned over the past few years to help her keep track of her thoughts and focus.

I have always loved having a notebook, since I was a little girl, but when I entered the education system, I realized just how influential my notebook obsession was. Throughout a normal day there can be countless things that colleagues say to me, meetings I attend, along with thoughts I have, that I’ll need to deal with at a later time. Initially I would try to remember these as the day went on. I quickly realized that my brain couldn’t hold everything and little things were slipping. I’d forget to get out the larger lined books for the intervention group or I’d have not passed on a question in staff meeting that my TA had asked me. I found that I was spending time apologizing for forgetting to do something or frantically dashing up to get things out of the resource cupboard that I should have got out during last weeks PPA. This annoyed me. I attempted writing notes on post-its however I found that they weren’t big enough or I would loose them. Not effective at all, so I settled on a notebook.

Over the years I have trialled different sized notebooks ranging from small flip-books, leftover exercise books, up to large A4 hard backed books and I have finally discovered that A5 hard backed works well for me. They are the right size so that I don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount that is on each page and the hard covers provide a solid base to lean upon when I’m writing.
Key things to think about when choosing a notebook

  1. Trail different sizes until you find what suits you best
  2. Choose a brightly coloured notebook (easy to locate after you’ve put it down)
  3. At the back, have an ongoing To-Do list
  4. Cross items off the To-Do list as soon as they are done (It’s incredibly rewarding!)
  5. Take it with you to all meetings and briefings
  6. Make notes throughout all meetings
  7. Have it on your desk (not necessarily open) throughout the day
  8. Don’t be afraid to write down any reflections, thoughts or questions you have while they are fresh in your mind

I have realised that these books are an extension of me and enclosed within them is a small piece of my character. They are laid-out in a way that suits my brain and I now have a system that I carry across to each book, as I fill them.
Q – means I have a question to ask
R – a personal reflection I have made and need to note down.
GR – Guided Reading

  • Links

The back of the book contains my To-Do list and parts of this is highlighted green, yellow or pink depending on how urgent the task is. I have found that this draws my attention to certain key jobs that I may have not tackled yet.
I have had many friends that have set up their notebooks on a laptop or tablet. I’ve trialled this as well, thinking that it will support my work-life balance as I wouldn’t be double handling anything, yet I personally struggle with an electronic notebook, so for me, I will continue choosing my brightly coloured A5, hard-backed notebook.

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The author

Nadine has worked with children for 17 years having originally trained as an International Montessori Directress and then moving into state schools by completing a GTP. Nadine is passionate about making the most out of every day, either at school or with her two young children. She has previously written articles that have been published in various magazines including the TES.

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