Consider these items:
Making a coconut cake
Enrolling a student in school
Ending a grading period
Packing for an out-of-town trip

All of these activities have some commonalities:

  1. They have a number of steps involved in order to be complete.
  2. They will happen numerous times, so having a pre-defined list of the steps will serve as a huge time-saver.
  3. They do not necessarily recur on a regular schedule (every week, every month, etc.)

In the last post you read about the importance of using checklists in the medical profession and their implications elsewhere. Today, we examine checklists in the school setting.

As an elementary school principal, at the end of every grading period, we performed the following steps in the main office:

  1. Allow grade posting
  2. Remind teachers to post grades
  3. Run check to see who has not posted grades
  4. Run “Missing Grade” report
  5. Run Accelerated Reader Marking Period Report
  6. Disallow grade posting
  7. Reconcile grades (Utilities, Grading, Reconcile grades)
  8. Run report cards
  9. Run Honor Roll
  10. Put Honor Roll ribbons in boxes
  11. Send Honor Roll list to newspaper
  12. Run grade distribution
  13. Run failure list

Working through the list was a cinch. Trying to remember everything on the list would have been a nightmare and surely manifested itself in forgotten items time and time again. But where does one keep this sort of information? How does it work into the overall system? Enter the beauty of checklists.

For Outlook users, the answer is to use the Note section of Outlook. Each checklist is a separate note. For those who use Evernote, create a notebook called “Checklists” and let each of your checklists be a separate note.Here are the checklists that I have in my Outlook Notes:

xx Additional Academic Indicator of 95% has been met
xx BBSST To-Do List
xx Calendar dates have been scheduled
xx Calendar for new school year has been adopted
xx Code of Conduct has been revised
xx Computer is set up
xx Distribution lists have been updated
xx District Accreditation review has been completed and paperwork submitted
xx Evaluations have been completed
xx Grading Period has been concluded
xx Interpreter for PTO meetings and Awards Day have been secured
xx Packing List
xx Position has been filled and new hire inducted
xx Professional Development has been planned
xx Professional Development Plan has been submitted
xx Recruiting Fair has been organized
xx Renaissance Place is ready for new school year
xx SETS is ready for new school year
xx State Superintendent’s Art Show has been held
xx STI is ready for new school year
xx Teacher of the Year/JSU Hall of Fame have been submitted and winners honored
xx Time Management Workshop has been planned

Look at what each one of these titles has in common:

  1. Almost without exception, the title consists of a statement which is either true or false.
  2. As long as the statement is false, there is more to be done.
  3. When the statement is true, the goal has been achieved. In other words, we can “check it off.”
  4. Each statement begins with a noun.
  5. Each statement is preceded by a double x (xx).
  6. Each title represents a goal which will be undertaken once or more every year.
  7. The exact dates involved with any one of the goals will vary from year to year.

In the next two posts, I will take two of the samples from the list and “think out loud” so that you can see how what seems to be an overwhelming list becomes a set of small, doable tasks which simply become part of my task list.