Organized Charm

Saturday, October 14, 2017

How I Color Code My Notes

A few of you have requested a post about how I color code my notes! So I’m happy to share that today! 

One thing I will remind you of is please don’t try to do this IN class! You will get frustrated and you WILL mess up! 

Take sloppy notes in class and rewrite them into pretty, colorful notes later! 

Those pretty, colorful notes are the ones you will use to study before a test or reference while writing a paper! :) 

Ok, so here is the system I use. I’ve been using this same color-coding system since my  sophomore year of college and it has worked perfectly for me! In fact, I still use it today in my classroom to color code our subjects and schedule! But that’s a post for a different day :) 

Pink | Headers/Major Points
Because I’m drawn more to the colors at the end of the rainbow (Pink! Purple! Blue!), I do all my color-coding treating pink like it’s the top dog color (which it is, as far as I’m concerned). I actually remember the day I came up with this system. 

I made a mark on my paper with every color pen I had, then I checked to see which one grabbed my attention the most quickly. Pink was the winner (pink is always the winner, amiright?), so that’s why I use pink for headers! Use whatever catches your attention!

Purple | Sub Headers/Keywords
Any major information that you need to go under the header will go here. It can be the first thing your professor mentions about that particular topic, it can be keywords you make up to trigger your memory, or it can be a quick and broad sentence explaining the header. 

Basically, it’s just a little more explanation to assist you in making sense of the header. 

4 Tips for Taking Better Class Notes

Blue | Bullet Points
Pretty straight-forward. I always prefer bullet points to sentences. Even when I’m typing up information to give to my parents at school, I very rarely type information in paragraphs. Is it because I don’t think they’re smart? Nope! It's because I've researched how people read. 

And research shows that "a few tiny dots attract the eye and can make a complex concept understandable." In fact, only 57% of people read the content in paragraphs. Bottom Line: Don't write paragraphs in your notes... You'll probably never go back to read them!

Speaking of reading paragraphs, are you reading your textbooks correctly?

Green | Vocabulary 
Depending on your major, you may have some crazy-ridiculous vocabulary terms. I like to write my new vocabulary words in green and all the way to the left side of the paper (in the margin) to make them easier to find! 

Be sure to write a definition that makes sense to YOU, not just the definition from your textbook (because, if it’s a new concept, that can sound just as confusing as the word itself)! Make any sort of connection you can! Do you need help with that? 

Check out this post on putting notes in your own words! 

Orange | Examples
Finally, the examples. Good teachers and professors come up with memorable examples. In fact, I’ve had some professors who have told such funny stories that I started laughing when I saw the vocabulary word on the test! 

Examples of your topic in real life will make all the difference, so do whatever it takes to find good ones and remember them! I also like to draw little pictures to break up the text of my notes :) Want to know more about that? Check out this guide to taking visual notes!

Hopefully, that makes my color-coding system a little easier to understand! If you're interested in seeing a more in-depth explanation, check out my Note Formatting Resource, where I break it down even more! 

Now that you've got these beautiful notes, let's organize them so they're easier to study! :)

How do you color code your notes? Have you used the same system for a long time? Or are you just starting a new system? Share your process below!

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

How I Organize My Google Drive

Google Drive is probably one of my favorite modern-day inventions (aside from air-conditioning and hair straighteners). 

I first started using it when I worked in public school and my team shared a lot of files with one another. Since then, I have become one of those people who uses it for e v e r y t h I n g. And I love it! 

One of the challenging things about using a system like Google Docs or Photos is that they can be difficult to keep cleaned out and decluttered. Especially if you like to use them to backup/store everything. 

Since the point of using these systems is to find things easily, I like to keep them super organized and purge them regularly. They both were also really helpful when my poor hard drive bit the dust a few weeks ago. 

*moment of silence*

If you’ve been reading Organized Charm for a while, you’ll recognize that how I organize my Google Drive is similar to how I organize the files in my computer

That’s because it’s exactly the same system :) 

Color Coding

Either this is a new feature, or I’m just not very observant. Because I only recently discovered that I could color code my folders (YAY!). I LOVE this feature because it allows me to extend the way my computer files are organized

Folders & Subfolders

Since I clean them out regularly, some folders only have a couple of items in them, while others have multiple subfolders. Then I really just keep breaking things down by subcategories.

Active vs. Inactive

When they’re active (I’m using them), they’re a color. When they’re inactive (I finished the project but want to keep it for some reason), I remove the color and keep it gray. This makes it really easy for me to find what I’m looking for even faster! 

Rule of 10

I use the “Rule of 10” for my folders (don’t google that, I just made it up). I try not to ever have more than 10 loose documents in a folder. Why 10? Because that’s how many you can see before you have to scroll down. I just keep sorting them into subfolders to keep things neat. 

Purge Regularly

I only make a conscious effort to clean out my folders and sub folders maybe twice a year (like summer and winter breaks when I have extra time on my hands). I move unused/unneeded/duplicate documents to the trash and merge all the existing files I can. 

That’s how I keep my Google Drive organized!

I know that some of you probably have super efficient systems! If you do, I’d love to hear about them! Share them in the comments below :)

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Encouragement for First Year Teachers

Even though I hate clutter, I am a big fan of saving old journals, notebooks, and planners. 

Why? Because reading through them reminds you of the ups and downs in life that you would otherwise forget. The other day, I flipped through an old journal in my office. 

I ran across a journal entry from my first month in my first year teaching in a public school. This job was at one of the most challenging schools in the city. Before I got there, it had faced closure and had to adopt a special educational model in order to stay open. 

A month in, I had been hit hard with things like new Common Core standards, PLC meetings, data meetings, iStation, iReady, faculty meetings, committee meetings, division meetings, almost daily team meetings, and more paperwork than I could have ever imagined. 

To add to the fun, the educational model included an extended school day (8:15-4:30) and no recess for my Kindergarteners (apparently, this is supposed to help them learn better?). A normal day for me meant leaving for school at 6:30 AM and getting home around 9:00 PM. And that was with a 10-minute commute. How long is that even? Like, 14 hours?! 

Did people know that this is the life some public school teachers are living? 

Because I certainly had no idea. 

I was excited to work there but once I jumped in, I felt like I was just getting through it day-by-day. And some days, hour-by-hour. The time absolutely FLEW by everyday! Even with the crazy long hours, I never, ever felt like I could catch up. 

There was always another meeting to attend. Always another form to fill out. Always another new student to add to the classroom. 

It was like Finals Week every week. Are you in the same boat? Read on.

(Speaking of Finals Week: 7 Tips for a Productive Finals Week)

Here is the journal entry:

September 29, 2015

I am feeling so overwhelmed by my job. The amount of time that I spend at work is ridiculous. I don’t sleep- I lie in bed and obsessively think about work until I force myself awake at 4:00, 3:00, 2:00 AM and can’t go back to sleep. We meet all the time, which turns into me sitting in a room, counting the seconds until we can leave… but there’s never really an “ending” time, so it really just turns into me waiting for the janitor to kick us out. I am definitely on data overload: books, meetings, handouts, announcements, articles, advice… it’s all really great, except that I never have time to implement any of it because, from the second I walk in the door to the second I leave, other people have my time planned for me. I knew that public school would be hard, time-consuming, and different but I had no idea I would look forward to leaving “early” if I only worked a 10-11 hour day. I am burnt out, exhausted, tired, resentful. I worked so hard to get this job but now that I have it, I just miss my life. I miss working out with my husband after work. I miss my husband. I miss my family. I miss sleeping through the night. I miss being hydrated and clean. I miss the happy demeanor and positive rapport that I used to have with my old students. It will get better. 

I love that last sentence: It will get better. Simple and encouraging. 

Even though I was struggling to make it through each day, I refused to let my job defeat me. I knew that it would get better. And it DID! 

On the next page of my journal, I listed specific problems I was having in my classroom with possible solutions. Over fall break, I completely reworked my classroom management from the ground up. 

Yes, I spent my entire Fall Break working at home and in my classroom, but it was necessary. And it paid off! From Fall Break until Christmas Break, I taught new routines and procedures and consistently and strictly enforced my classroom management plan. When I came back from Christmas break, I had a wonderful second semester! 

(15 Quick Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine)

Here are the biggest resources that helped me:

1. Eric Thomas

Have you heard of Eric Thomas? He is the best, most motivational person on the planet! I would get to my classroom an hour early, turn on his YouTube channel and just let it play as I worked. "You Owe You" is my favorite video, but they are all really motivating!

This is an excellent blog written by a teacher, if you’re having a challenging year, READ EVERY POST and subscribe to it! I could not read enough of this blog. It completely changed my experience. They are very relevant to everything you will face in the classroom. 

Skip straight to the Classroom Management section (for some reason, it's in the back?) and begin implementing a strategy a day! I would wake up, read a strategy, think about how I could implement it in my classroom, and focus on implementing it all day long. It worked!!

Even if you aren’t a “new teacher”, this is a good book! Each strategy is only one page long! Start from the beginning and implement a new strategy each day! I really like that so much of it focuses on the viewpoint of the child/student. It helps keep things in perspective. 

5. Teaching Journal

Every morning, I got up a little earlier and read a strategy from both of these books. Then I wrote 3-5 sentences in a journal about how I would implement each one that day. When I got home, I wrote a few sentences about how it went and how I could do it better next time. 

Holding myself accountable for the implementing the strategies had a huge impact on my year. My rapport with my students improved, I gained more confidence as a teacher, plus it even counted for Professionalism points in my Teaching Portfolio at the end of the year! 

(Study Strategy: Just Get Started)

Please don’t think I’m trying to scare you out of teaching! It is literally the greatest job on earth! But it is a difficult job and it definitely can be overwhelming. If you're a new teacher or an even an experienced teacher adapting to a new setting, just know that you are not alone! 

And remember that last sentence: It will get better. 

#teacherlife is the best life, I promise! :)

Are you in a challenging teaching situation right now? Or have you ever overcome one? What were the biggest resources that helped you? Share your experience below! 

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