Author Archives: Scott

Track your day

In a previous post, I wrote about how I am currently tracking the activities and work that occurs each day.

I started this task as I wanted to see what I was doing each day and where I was spending my time. Whilst I went into each day with a plan, I was noticing that the day rarely went to plan. I was frequently being interrupted from my work and wanted to see if there was any pattern or theme to these interruptions

Initially, I used a hard copy spiral notebook and would write down daily notes from meetings and conversations along with tasks that came up and I needed to complete. I liked its simplicity but as someone that uses a computer most of the time, I can usually type faster than I can write and found the process of writing slow and inefficient. I also didn’t like that I couldn’t ‘search’ my notebook. Finding previous notes meant flipping backward and forward between pages to find what I was looking for.

I have since moved on to digital format and am currently exploring Microsoft OneNote. I like the ‘notebook’ feel and the ability to create sections whilst having the freedom to move things around. I like that I can sync my notebook across my iPad, iPhone and computer and have my notes with me.

What it looks like

I’ve played a bit with the template I use to track my day, but my current format looks something like this.

The top of the page is dated – I’ve recently added in the term and week as part of the heading.I keep track of any CRTs we have in during the day and if the teacher they are replacing has APT.

At the beginning of the day, I track any CRTs we have in during the day and if the teacher they are replacing has APT. I keep track of any extra time I give to teachers to release them.

I also keep a note of any students I am checking in with for their behavior and the times I check in on them. I also keep a note of any students who are out of the yard for inappropriate behaviour.

Below here, I then track my work for the day. I keep a note of the start and end times and give each task a heading.

I highlight the heading with a colour depending on its context.

Underneath I then keep track of any notes.

I recently added in the ‘energy’ column as I wanted to see how I was feeling throughout the day. I currently give a score from 1-5 each time I start a task. A ‘3’ is average and on track. Anything higher and I’m on a roll. Below a 3 and I know my energy is fading.

I also added in the gratitude section as a way of keeping track of the great things that happen each day. It also serves as a good reminder at the end of the day to reflect on what’s happened and to find a highlight or something positive about each day.

Initially, I kept a section for each month and then used a page for each day. I then worked towards grouping my pages together in weeks.

I was grouping my notes by month but am thinking I might move towards having each term in a section and then group pages by each week.


I do wish though that OneNote had a little bit more grunt at times. I would like if it could perform calculations from tables I insert (similar to a spreadsheet) or create graphs based on the data I enter.

Whilst it’s great at keeping notes from conversations, phone calls, meetings etc.. it’s also not really serving my purpose of knowing where my time goes each day. At the moment, I need to manually go through to add up the hours and collate the data.

Do you track your work? If so, how? Do you use any tools to support you to do this?

What patterns have you noticed as a result of tracking your work?

Have you got a minute?

So…..  It’s been a while between blog post and, as always, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since I last wrote.

The short story is that I switched schools (again!) mid way through last year to take on an Acting Assistant Principal role and at the beginning of term 2 this year, I was successful in obtaining the substantive role.

The question I have been asked the most often is along the lines of if I like the change; if I prefer one role over the other or if I miss the classroom. I find this a really difficult question to answer as the work and the role is so different.

One of the biggest challenges has been managing my time. As a classroom teacher in a primary school environment, my day followed a fairly standard routine. Reading would happen in the morning, Maths would be after recess….

Even as a leading teacher, I would make a list of tasks and jobs I would want to get done that day, find a space to work and get them done.

Switching into the Assistant Principal role, this recent video in the Leadership Scenarios series from AITSL really resonated with me.

So much of my work is reactionary.

“This teacher has called in sick.”

“The pipe inside the toilet has burst.”

“This parent wants to talk about an issue.”

I used to be a big believer in having an ‘open-door’ policy; that being accessible was important in building a sense of trust. But I am beginning to shift in my thinking towards this and
reconsider what this may look like practically.

I’m also conscious that often when I make an appointment, I get interrupted with a student issue or something that needs immediate attention. This seems disrespectful to the person who has set aside time to see me.

I also find that my calendar gets full with meetings. There are some days where I can bounce from meeting to meeting to meeting, often without a break in between. I feel like I walk out with my head full,

E-mail and incoming paperwork also takes a huge chunk of time. I’m a big fan of David Allen’s work around Getting Things Done but I seem to spend the bulk of my time getting ‘in to empty’.

I don’t have time at the moment for ‘deep work’; for working on tasks and projects that are meaningful and will drive school improvement.

So…. What am I doing to fix it?

I’ve started to track my work each day by making note of the time I start something and when I finish it.  It was interesting to reflect on the number of ‘interuptions’ to my work and the length of time it took to complete some tasks. A report that I started at 9am didn’t get finished until 3pm simply due to other tasks that interupted the work flow. I have a feeling that most of my day is spent doing administrative tasks and responding to student behaviour and welfare issues but I want to get some qualitative data that supports this. (I’m working on a seperate blog post that explains my workflow for this)

I’ve also been tracking my energy levels throughout the day. Each time I start a new task, I give myself a score between 1-5. 3 is a good average score; anything above and I am in the zone. Anything below a 3 means my focus and attention is fading fast.

I’ve also made a point of tracking small gratitudes each day as it’s often so easy to get caught up in the administrative side of things. Most of them relate to students who have made
achievements or staff who have worked with students to create these achievements.

Finally, I’ve recently signed up for leadership coaching and am keen to work with my new coach on how I can make improvements in this area.

Hopefully I’ll have more to share with you as I go through this process of change and learning… when I get a minute!

A blank canvas – Part II

This post is in response to a comment I received in relation to my “Blank Canvas” post and and expands on my thoughts in relation to my ideal learning space.

I remember once having this idea that I wanted to start the year with a totally empty classroom.
No furniture. No chairs. No desks. No displays. Nothing.

That together as a learning community, we would talk about how we liked to learn, what resources we needed in order to learn best and what furniture and layout best supported that. Together we would source the items and materials we were after and collectively create a learning community that reflected our needs.

What would begin as a blank canvas would become a masterpiece that we would paint together.


Somewhere in the middle of my dream though, reality set in.

28 students in an open space with nothing seemed like an invitation for chaos…. Or a great place to play game of gang up tiggy.

The principal taking school tours of prospective parents walking past beautifully arranged classrooms; sending out an unofficial message of ‘calm and order’ to only to arrive at my room to see an empty and unprepared space.

The logistics of storing all the furniture that was in the room previously. Where would it go when storage in most schools is already at a premium?

And what if they ‘got it wrong’? Previous attempts at having students ‘design their ideal classroom’ lead to them arranging the desks in rows. Because that’s what a classroom ‘should’ look like (according to American movies and TV Shows). Aren’t I supposed to be ‘professional’ here? Shouldn’t I be the one with the knowledge of learning theory and what works best? Not that I’ve been to hospital, but I can’t imagine going into operating theatre the day before my operation and rearranging the layout of the room based on my needs.

I’ve probably gone to the extreme here and I’m certain somewhere in the middle is a ‘happy medium’. For example, while I arrange the tables in our learning space I don’t believe in having ‘set seating’ arrangements for my students; I’m one for allowing students to choose where they sit.  If someone is annoying them or disturbing their learning, they then have the choice to move and find somewhere else they would like to work. Part of this process centres around choosing ‘good’ locations for learning and what this looks like (ie: not always next to your friend). If this continues to be something students have difficulty with, I will then let students know they need some help to make a good choice and offer 3 of my own suggestions.

Like most changes in education, until perceptions change around what ‘should be’ we continue to do what has always been done. Maybe one day I’ll challenge this perception.