Paperwork is often maligned in English. In fact, I’ve even had (German) students who took offense at some example sentences such as “I just have some paperwork to do before I got home.” Or “all that’s left to do is the paperwork.”
Paperwork, to some it seems, is essential.
Slowly, I’m learning why.
And I’m learning it the hard way: by not having a really great, structured system of record-keeping. I need that.
My system now
When I got serious about vocabulary, I made some pretty solid record-keeping worksheets for vocabulary. They still form the backbone of my record keeping. Basically, I have an attendance sheet that I make — it helps me learn the names, as well as being honest about who attended if that becomes a question later — and the vocab worksheets.
That leaves me with a packet of six or so papers–the attendance sheet and five vocab sheets–bound together. I add any other material that we’ve worked on or that I’ve handed out to the bottom of this stack in chronological order.
When I realize that there are more and better things that I could be doing, I make a note to myself and put it on top of the attendance sheet. That’s great for recording that train of thought that you have at the end of the lesson (“a great idea would be to come back and work on family vocabulary and use that as an excuse to drill questions”) but it’s insufficient for really planning out something that’s several lessons long. You know, when you have the inspiration that “we could work towards this goal, by hitting on these intermediate steps…”
I don’t do that well. Partly, I use my to-do list app, and sometimes calendar reminders. But, well, I’m dissatisfied.
What I want
I’m not sure what I want. Here are some of the things I’d like to be able to record and read at a glance:
- Which “special topics” have we covered already (I do special lessons on Greek myths, but each myth only once per group. After three years, how should I know which ones I’ve covered where?)
- Which topics have the group requested to cover?
- Which grammars have we intentionally practiced? How often? When was the last time?
- Which grammars do I think will need to be practiced in the future?
- What sort of framework do I have in mind for the next six or so lessons? This has to be something that can be changed and altered and still be readable as I plan. (These requirements, I should add, are the things that make this seem hardest for me.)
- I think I’m ready to go from a single stack of papers per group to two stacks: one for the material, so I can reference it while leading a conversation, and one for my to record vocab to review and my notes on planning.
I’ll post when I get a system going that seems to make sense to me. Until then, what system do you use to record the plans and progress you’ve made with each group–and how to two diverge? Are there any good ready-made worksheets out there that I should look at?
I’m grateful for any tips I can get.