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The Together Teacher: Plan Ahead, Get Organized, and Save Time!

ISBN: 978-1-118-13821-2
352 pages
June 2012, Jossey-Bass
The Together Teacher: Plan Ahead, Get Organized, and Save Time! (111813821X) cover image


An essential guide for over-scheduled teachers

Maia Heyck-Merlin helps teachers build the habits, customize the tools, and create space to become a Together Teacher. This practical resource shows teachers how to be effective and have a life! Author and educator Maia Heyck-Merlin explores the key habits of Together Teachers—how they plan ahead, organize work and their classrooms, and how they spend their limited free time. The end goal is always strong outcomes for their students.

So what does Together, or Together Enough, look like? To some teachers it might mean neat filing systems. To others it might mean using time efficiently to get more done in fewer minutes. Regardless, Together Teachers all rely on the same skills. In six parts, the book clearly lays out these essential skills. Heyck-Merlin walks the reader through how to establish simple yet successful organizational systems. There are concrete steps that every teacher can implement to achieve greater stability and success in their classrooms and in their lives.

  • Contains templates and tutorials to create and customize a personal organizational system and includes a companion website: www.thetogetherteacher.com
  • Recommends various electronic or online tools to make a teacher's school day (and life!) more efficient and productive
  • Includes a Reader's Guide, a great professional development resource; teachers will answer reflection questions, make notes about habits, and select tools that best match individual needs and preferences

Ebook customers can access CD contents online.  Refer to the section in the Table of Contents labeled, Download CD/DVD Content, for detailed instructions.
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Table of Contents

Foreword: Norman Atkins

Part One: Get Clear on What Matters


Planning, Organization, and Efficiency Matter Even More for Teachers

What Do You Mean by Together?

Why This Matters to Me

How the Book Is Arranged

How to Use This Book

Chapter 1: Rules Over Tools: Create Your Ideal Week

It Can Get Easier—A Step-by-Step Approach

I'm Not a Dictator, but There Are Some Rules

The Tools

Components of a Great Organization System

Let's Get Started

Part Two: Take the Long View

Chapter 2: No More Missed Deadlines: Make a Comprehensive Calendar

The Multiple-Calendar Dilemma

The Comprehensive Calendar: What Is It?

Together Teachers' Comprehensive Calendars

Pick Your Tool: Where Will You Keep Your Comprehensive Calendar?

The Up-Front Investment: Create Your Comprehensive Calendar

Keep Your Comprehensive Calendar Alive

Why Is This Important, Again?

Get Started: Next Steps

Nilda: A Day in the Life

Chapter 3: Corral the To-Dos: Create an Upcoming To-Do List

Upcoming To-Do List: What Is It?

Using Your Upcoming To-Do List

Together Teachers' Upcoming To-Do Lists

Pick Your Tool: Where Will You Keep Your Upcoming To-Do List?

Get Started Slogging Through the Post-its

Keep It Alive: Enter It Immediately!

Why Is This Important, Again?

Get Started: Next Steps

Chapter 4: Never Forget! Capture Your Thoughts

Setting the Scene

A Closer Look at Thought Catchers

Together Teachers' Thought Catchers

Pick Your Tool: Where Will You Keep Your Thought Catchers?

The Initial Investment: Setting Up Your Thought Catchers

Making Your Thought Catchers Work for You

Why Do We Need Thought Catchers Again?

Get Started: Next Steps

Gilbert: A Day in the Life

Chapter 5: Beware the Notebook Vortex: Take Great Notes at Meetings and Professional Development

Setting the Scene

Beware the Notebook Vortex

The Explanation: What Are Meeting/PD Notes?

Back from the Dead: Doing Something with Our PD Notes

Pick Your Tool: Where Will You Keep Your Notes?

Making the Most of Small-Group Meetings

Get Started: Next Steps

Part Three: Narrow Your View

Chapter 6: A Week's Worth of Readiness: How to Look Ahead

The Tote Bag Calls to You from the Corner of the Room

A Closer Look: What Is a Weekly or Daily Worksheet?

Together Teachers' Weekly Worksheets

Together Teachers' Daily Worksheets: A Different Option

Choose a Product That Works for You

Get Started Customizing: Narrow Your View

Why Do I Need to Narrow My View?

Get Started: Next Steps

Jeff: A Day in the Life

Chapter 7: Automate: Create Routines for Planning

The Power Workout: The Weekly Round-Up

Daily Routines: Making the Most of Openings and Closings

Use Those Preps to Their Fullest

Creating Routines: Why Does This Matter, Again?

Get Started: Next Steps

Chapter 8: Ward off the Demons: Keep Those Organizational Muscles Strong

Keeping Those Organizational Muscles Working: Your Daily Exercise

I'm Routined, I’m Planned, but the Work Still Isn't Getting Done

Five Demons That Haunt Us: Some Common Human Behaviors

Anna: A Day in the Life

Part Four: All That Other Stuff!

Chapter 9: Tame the E-Mail Beast: How to Manage Your In-Box

Setting the Scene

E-Mail Is Not the Enemy, but...

Set Up Your In-Box for Success

Admit You Are Part of the Problem: Create Better E-Mail Habits

Clarity Is King

E-Mail: Use It, Don't Abuse It!

Get Started: Next Steps

Chapter 10: Create Stations: Arrange Your Classroom to Run Like Clockwork

Setting the Scene

An Overview of the Stations

Enter and Exit Carefully: Create Your Classroom Foyer

Stocking Up the Kitchen: Keeping Necessary Ingredients on Hand

Battle of the Books: Classroom Libraries and Textbooks

Tame the Technology: Get Those Cords Under Control

Spic-and-Span Classroom

Why Does This Matter, Again?

Dan: A Day in the Life

Chapter 11: Subdue the Backpack Explosion: Set Expectations for Student Stuff

Setting the Scene

Contain Student Papers

Past and Present Student Work

Pencils and That Other “Stuff”

Why Does This Matter, Again?

Chapter 12: Deal with Your Paper and Stuff: How to Find What You Need in Under Ten Seconds

Setting the Scene

What to Carry When You Are on the Move: Your Together Teacher System and a Teacher Clipboard

Use Your Desk for Something Other Than Storage

Create a Suitcase: Transporting Work Between School and Home

Your Teaching Materials

Finding What You Need When You Need It: Reference Information and File Cabinets

Why Does This Matter, Again?

Part Five: Become a Together Teacher

Conclusion: Becoming a Together Teacher

Dealing with Deluge: Can Your System Survive Under the Pressure?

Get Started: An Month-by-Month Implementation Plan

Why the World Needs Together Teachers

Sue:  A Day in the Life

Recommended Resources for the Together Classroom

Books, Blogs, Applications, and More!

Meet the Together Teachers


Appendix 1: Glossary of Terms

Appendix 2: The Weekly Round-Up: Your Agenda

Appendix 3: Project Plans for Teachers

Appendix 4: Sample School Communication Agreement

Appendix 5: Classroom Efficiency: Quick and Dirty Tips


About the Author


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Author Information

Maia Heyck-Merlin spends the majority of her time designing and delivering training for busy teachers and school leaders around the country. Prior to this she was chief talent officer for Achievement First, a high-performing charter school management organization. Maia was a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher and she spent five years on the staff of Teach For America in a number of leadership roles. Please join Maia and the growing Together Teacher community at www.thetogetherteacher.com.

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Press Release

September 05, 2012
Educators Organize Their Classroom With The Together Teacher Plan

Educators get it together with new organization plan

Author, educator gives teachers tools to deliver results and achieve a work-life balance

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Get up early. Arrive at school. Go over lesson plans. Motivate students. E-mail parents. Grade papers. Read memos. Organize classroom. Meet with principal. Go home and collapse. While today’s teacher receives an education to teach kids science, art or math, many are not given the operational skills to balance all the demands on their time in a typical day. With the advent of technology, teachers are juggling more than their counterparts did 25 years ago. A startling survey reveals close to 50 percent of new teachers leave their positions in their first five years and are less positive about the training they received.

Longtime educator and administrator, Maia Heyck-Merlin has seen the strain that managing time, paperwork and students has placed on teachers. Heyck-Merlin addresses these issues in her new book, The Together Teacher: Plan Ahead, Get Organized and Save Time (Jossey-Bass, May 2012; $21.95). She designed the Together Teacher system to help teachers work with intentionality and focus on what really matters: delivering better results for students and having a healthier life.

Each chapter builds the Together Teacher system along with free resources and guides to manage time, to-dos, calendars, e-mails and paperwork. Heyck-Merlin highlights real-life stories from together teachers in various stages of their careers. The Together Teacher also features practical illustrations and photos so teachers can arrange their classrooms to be stocked, organized and run like clockwork.

“As someone who has been a teacher, recruited teachers, hired teachers, trained and evaluated teachers, and worked like heck to retain great teachers – and is married to a teacher – I believe that being organized is an invaluable skill to possess in the most demanding and important profession there is,” Heyck-Merlin says.

Together Teacher’s may make it look easy but in fact are incredibly organized. They exhibit five essential skills:

Prioritization. They focus on the right things at home and school, such as personal or professional goals and align their schedule to fit those priorities. They don’t spend all their time making beautiful bulletin boards when they could be analyzing important student data.

Planning. Together teachers look ahead consistently to what is coming and carefully plan how to use their limited free time. Their prep periods are carefully mapped out so they have less work to take home.

Organization. They create organized and defined processes and systems for important classroom functions. No more fumbling for those class handouts.

- Execution. They do their work with intentionality and awareness of time management and energy levels. Together Teachers don’t try to plan a field trip during one prep period.

Efficiency. Together teachers capitalize on all bits of time in the day and maximize their time by batch processing. No more running to the copier or office three times per day.

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