Record keeping is essential for any teacher, and there are many different ways to keep records. One technique is to have paper copies in three ring binders. Another technique is to scan everything and keep data on a computer or removable hardware. Regardless of the end state, the method is still the same; the 4 rules of record keeping: You first, simplicity, search ability, and reliability.
The day you graduate and decide teaching is the right career path is the day to start keeping a professional record; start with a three ring binder of you. This binder contains all the personal information about yourself and your career as a teacher. Include things such as awards, certifications, publications, anything that is of value. It is your record of yourself and a simple way to accomplish this is a three ring binder with sheet protectors. Keeping a record of where you have been and the classes you taught will help boost confidence of record keeping and your marketability in the long run, because now you have a portfolio you can reference at any time.
Keep it simple, especially when keeping a grade book. While it is important to keep a hand written record book, technology certainly has it uses. A computerized grade book that looks exactly like your handwritten grade book can make grade calculations easier, and reduce the time needed to calculate grades. The most efficient way is to create a custom grade book using a spreadsheet, print a blank copy, and fill in the blanks as you go along. This allows your hand written grade book to look exactly like your digital copy, thus saving time and energy. Many schools have a certain format how they want the grades submitted, and it may be more efficient to follow their format. Someone, somewhere has done a grade book before, utilize the knowledge of coworkers before starting a grade book from scratch.
Searching your grade book can be a chore and students will challenge you if they feel they can win. What happened two or three weeks ago is hard to remember. Each class should have its own page in the grade book because four or more classes each with 25 students have the potential to be complex very quickly. Create a pattern for how you input grades into the grade book and be consistent. Consistent pattern setting helps teachers remember and a rubric for each assignment can help when the teacher inputs the grades as well as for the assignment for next year. If you have to grade a lot of papers from different classes, separate and keep the class assignments into different folders, and then alphabetize the papers before you start. As you grade each paper, you can correspond each of the names into the grade book. Do not mix classes as a general rule and be flexible; every class has its own personality.
What good is a record if it is faulty, or incomplete? Garbage in is garbage out. Students deserve to know where they stand in your class and if you do not enter their scores into the record book or do not update the grades on a daily basis, the records lose all credibility. However, if a student does challenge his or her grade, and you have to explain to a parent and to your boss why a child is failing or falling behind in your class, your records, neat, clean, and simple enough to explain, will allow the teacher to justify the failing grade, or more importantly, help the student earn a better grade before it is too late.
The keys to success in record keeping besides keeping a record of you are simplicity, search ability, and reliability. Those 4 things can keep any teacher from doing extra work when it matters around grade time and keep both the students and their parents informed in a timely manner.