WE'VE MOVED! I now blog over at Trillium Montessori
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This is one of those areas that I've been toying with and tweaking since day one. I don't believe there is one perfect way to do record keeping. It all depends on the personality and processing style of the teacher. Unfortunately it sometimes seems that my own personality and processing style changes from year to year! Having said that however, I do think there are some basics that can help us in our endeavor.
The very first step in setting up your record-keeping system is to figure out your purpose. Why will you be keeping records? Who are they for? What information do you want to record? What will you use that information for? Are there legal requirements? There will be a range of answers to these questions. Some schools require certain information be passed on to parents every year. Other teachers simply need a way to keep track of their students' progress so they can keep them on track and motivated.
The second step is to recognize that you will need to do it regularly. This may seem too fundamental to mention here, but sometimes we forget the power of routines and habits. Habits help us get through tasks that seem like drudgery in other circumstances; they bypass the inertia of having to start something new, and they eliminate the need to wait for inspiration. I don't know about you, but I know very few people who are inspired to do record keeping every day!
The third item to keep in mind is efficiency. If your system is too cumbersome and time consuming, it is less likely that you will do it regularly. My favorite efficiency tactic is to do as much prep work as I can over the summer so that I only have to do maintenance tasks during the year.
The fourth step is to figure out your processing style and create a system that works with it rather than against it. Some people need to record a lot of information, and some people need very little to trigger a memory. Some, like me, prefer to set up things in advance whereas others need to leave a lot more room for inspiration during the year or else they start losing interest in their work.
Here is the schedule that I use for my curriculum planning and record keeping:
Annually (Over the summer)
- Create an overview of the year
- Plan cultural/thematic units
- Plan general rotation of materials
- Schedule days and times for rotation of materials
- Gather materials for upcoming year’s units:
- Review materials in stock and ensure they are in satisfactory condition
- Order necessary materials
- Make shopping lists for perishables and add to calendar for your shopping days.
Monthly (1 hour)
- Create general curriculum goals for each age level (Form: Monthly Goals by Level)
- Review upcoming month’s unit and prepare materials
Weekly (45 minutes for planning and recording; 1 hour for rotating)
- Create or review weekly group plan- including songs, movement games, cultural activities etc. (Form: Weekly Group Plan)
- Plan presentations for individual students for upcoming week (Form: Weekly Individualized Plan) Transfer record of lessons given to each child’s individual record (Binder: Student Records)
- Rotate materials according to schedule
Daily (throughout the day)
- Write down anecdotal observations of each child throughout the day (Form: Daily Observation Form)
- Check off presentations given on the Weekly Individualized Plan as you give those lessons. Write down any additional unplanned lessons that were presented.
I would love to hear what systems have worked well for other teachers out there!