Ask any teacher about the challenges of their job, and most will say the same thing: Successfully managing a staggering number of tasks is not for the faint of heart. Today’s teachers need to prepare lesson plans, monitor classrooms, balance diverse learning needs, and conjure the resources they need out of often-limited school budgets. On top of all that, there are extracurricular activities, providing emotional support for students, and engaging with parents.
If you’re a teacher, the key to success amid all these responsibilities is staying organized. Learning a few concepts can help, but it begins with an all-in-one, top-of-the-class set of teacher productivity tools that put you in control, ensuring you can handle your many tasks efficiently, effectively, and promptly.
Set yourself (and the class) up for success
Aside from leaving time for some much-needed and well-deserved rest, one of the most important things you can do as a teacher during your summer vacation is to prepare the class—and yourself—for a successful start to the new school year. The first days with your new class will set the tone for the entire year, and proper preparation can make the difference between an enjoyable, enriching experience for all, and a frustrating one. A little advanced prep work before that first bell rings will go a long way toward making sure you and your students’ back-to-school plans go off without a hitch.
Teacher and blogger Chad Donohue recommends sending students home after their first day with a packet of important forms, which may include “a letter, syllabus, schedule of upcoming events, and a school supply list.” You can create these resources ahead of time in Evernote—using advanced formatting features such as tables and semantic styling to lay out the necessary information in a clear, easily digestible way—and print them out to give to your students on the first day. Or get ahead of the game by sharing these notes with parents before school starts or exporting them as PDFs which you can email home—to be certain that any vital class information actually reaches its destination!
Evernote’s in-app camera can also be a powerful tool for preserving the information students give you about themselves during icebreaker activities. Let’s say you’ve given your new students a worksheet that allows them to tell you some introductory information about themselves, including their likes, dislikes, how they prefer to be taught, and who their friends are. Sure, you can keep those papers in a physical portfolio, or you may even post them on the wall for display. But for your own purposes as a teacher, you can also use Evernote on your phone or tablet to scan the handwritten text and keep it with your other notes about each student.
Evernote syncs your notes across all your devices, so you can view, and add to, this valuable repository of knowledge wherever you go—whether that’s grading papers or discussing students’ progress with parents or other staff. You might even want to create separate notebooks for each student as you get to know them and begin to develop their learner profiles.
Create engaging lesson plans
Lesson planning—the primary and definitive vehicle for instruction—is an integral part of a teacher’s day. Proper preparation takes time, and without the right tools, it can quickly turn into a daily grind. Improving your workflow can considerably reduce the time spent on planning lessons, without sacrificing the quality of your instruction or your ability to engage with students effectively.
Keep your lesson plans as simple and stress-free as possible. You may have a plan and specific outcomes in mind, but it’s important to allow for some flexibility, as well as various learner profiles. Personalizing lesson plans by allowing for different learning modalities will get better results. Integrate assessment and performance task checkpoints into lesson plans to easily determine when and why students do not understand a skill or concept.
Engagement is also critical to learning and retention. Instead of simply diagramming a sentence as an example and walking your students through the concept, try writing up the different components of the sentence on placards (such as “subject,” “predicate,” and “modifier”), giving them to individual students, then physically arranging them into a diagram format. You could even turn it into a fun physical activity using chalk to diagram where each student/component belongs in the sentence. You may also want to look for ways to bring introverted students into the lesson and leave time for “creative struggling” as a regular part of classwork.
Power tip: Use Evernote to gather and organize information for lesson plan development, adding and syncing notes across devices. Create tasks inside your notes to organize your to-dos, streamline your workflow, and get more done, faster. Search by names, dates, and keywords, including words in pictures. Thanks to Evernote’s robust character recognition technology, it’s easy to find text buried deep inside PDFs, handwritten notes, or other sources—no matter how basic or complex your search.
Develop learner profiles
Every student is unique, and each one responds to different kinds of teaching. That means developing smart strategies to better connect with them individually. How do they prefer to access information, engage with content, and express what they know and understand? What are their talents, interests, passions, and aspirations; and indeed, their dislikes? The more you understand your students, the better you’re able to ensure successful learning outcomes.
Developing a learner profile for each student is a great way to keep track of their progress, as well as providing insight on better ways to motivate and engage them. Using tables, list things the student excels at, aspirations, interests, formative experiences, dislikes, social mannerisms, and of course, areas where they may be struggling. Over the course of the year, students are going to change and grow; allow space for them to record self-reflections on a regular basis and become collaborators in their educational journey.
Learner profiles are invaluable not only for charting student progress but for engaging them on more than one level. “Crossover” activities combining multiple interests and group projects designed to accentuate each student’s strengths becomes easier as well. Learner profiles not only help a teacher better design instruction and materials, but can also offer learners a way to develop agency as they become increasingly aware of how they learn best.
Power tip: Use Evernote to create learner profiles, adjust them, and even share them with parents and students. If you’re on a paid Evernote plan, try saving a blank learner profile as a custom template, tailored to fit the specific needs of you and your students. Use tables, add images, and even enable access to resources with live links. Evernote’s workflow-sharing ability gives parents a quick, yet comprehensive, overview of how their child is doing and allows students to better assess and understand their educational strengths and weaknesses.
Stay on top of admin tasks
Teaching is fulfilling and fascinating work. Except, you know, when admin tasks eat into teaching time. Keeping ahead of that curve while balancing the needs of your class can prove daunting.
In addition to keeping track of attendance and turning in grades, there are a sweep of district, county, state, and federal mandates that need attention, as well as assessments to prepare, technology to learn and implement, committees to run, parents to brief, etc.
Evernote is designed to consolidate and organize all of the information related to these admin responsibilities in a single app. Think of it as your compass to give you direction and control. That, in turn, frees up your time to concentrate on what you know best, and the reason why you became a teacher in the first place.
Power tip: Use Tasks to keep your daily schedule organized and ensure you don’t lose track of important deadlines, adding flags and due dates to prioritize your tasks by importance. With recurring tasks, it’s easier than ever to incorporate these teacher productivity tools into your regular routine. If you’re an Evernote Personal, Professional, or Teams customer, you can set your to-dos to repeat using presets like “weekly” and “monthly,” or use customized intervals. They’ll refresh every time you cross them off—without missing a beat. Plus, reminders give you a gentle nudge every time one of your recurring tasks is coming back around.
Keep track of your important documents
These days, it seems that teachers have more documentation to keep tabs on than ever, including permission slips, medical forms, and even notes from parents or guardians. Storing these documents physically can easily turn into an unwieldy task, and the more documents that accumulate, the easier it can be to lose them.
With Evernote, you can have a convenient way to store all this information, even if the physical copies get misplaced. Evernote’s document scanning ability allows handwritten notes to live with the rest of your digital notes, and you can save photos to live in your notes too. Plus, for information you receive online, Web Clipper is a handy tool that allows you to save articles, web pages, and screen captures directly to Evernote.
Tools like these prevent you from having to rummage through desks, backpacks, shelves, and anywhere else that papers can find themselves in an educational setting. As long as you save something into Evernote, there’s only one place you’d have to look for it!
It takes a big heart to shape little minds
Teaching is more than a profession; it’s a calling. And today’s teachers need all the help and support they can get to stay motivated, productive, and present for their students. With the right technology and teacher productivity tools, you can dramatically improve your workflows, refine your lesson plans, and help your students excel.
This article was originally published on October 12, 2021. Updated on August 1, 2022.