Personal Kanban Helps Me to be a Better Educator

This year I started in a new preschool class.  I taught  3 year-old students this year.  I admit I was more than a bit nervous.  After having taught 4-5 year-old students for the past 10 years, I thought it would be a difficult transition for me with younger students.  Going in I knew after the success we had last year in our classroom with the ABC’s Personal Kanban,  I wanted to start that success even earlier with my 3 year-old students to set the stage for the rest of their educational journey.

I did just that, by implementing our stoplight safety kanban, then a Thanksgiving kanban while all year long we all have been flying a kite with a classroom personal kanban with huge success.

However, I discovered very quickly, there was even more room in my classroom for Personal Kanban, on a much more personal level: my own.

My realization started in the summer when I began preparing my classroom for the students arrival on the first day of school.  I was in a new classroom and I had many, many tasks that needed to be completed.

Organizing the classroom

When I first walked into my classroom I was so overwhelmed.  I knew I wanted to re-do a lot to make it warm and inviting for my new students.  I had no clue where even to begin, so I just dove right in. I would start in one part of the classroom and then need something from somewhere else in my classroom, get sidetracked and started on something else.  I decided to curb my problem of starting many tasks and completing none by putting a Personal Kanban right on top of my desk.

Personal Kanban on top of my desk.

It worked out so well that as it became time for my other teachers to come into the classroom to help get the room ready I began to put their tasks right on the Personal Kanban, and my desk ended up becoming  their first stop every morning upon entering the classroom.  It became our classroom command central.  Our tasks went from being sidetracked to completed.

Look at that completed lane!

Once school started and I began to plan and work heavily out of my teacher planning book. This was my teaching ‘bible’ so to speak.  This book came home every night with me and went back to school every morning. I never realized how much prepping I would need to do for each class. There were also items I needed to purchase or find in our art and craft closets. There was just so much to remember to make each class successful.  So I decided to just turn to the next page spread in my book and put a Personal Kanban there.  That way when I was preparing for a day or a week, I just had to turn the page and add the tasks I needed to complete. Whatever I needed to complete before the next class was always right there with me (at home or school) in my planning book.

Teacher Planning Book Personal Kanban

This is something I have continued all year long in my planning book and I couldn’t be happier.  This book has been my constant companion. The book with my Personal Kanban right in it has been a safety net and a  lifesaver for me this year.

My desk Personal Kanban evolved as the year went on.  Once class started we realized it wasn’t going to work out well being at the end of my desk.  My classroom is very busy and many students often gather at my desk and with that,  many items often gather on my desk during our class time.  So I decided to move it right on top of my desk calendar which is further away from other activities on my desk.

Desktop Calendar Personal Kanban

What evolved with this Personal Kanban has been simply incredible.  I would sit at my desk at the end of each day and add what tasks we needed to be done in the classroom at the beginning of the next day.  This worked out wonderfully because while doing this I began to discuss the tasks I was adding with my other teachers and get their input, we often made many changes to our art projects and circle time activities thanks to this collaboration, which was an added bonus. We began to recognize much more clarity. It improved our decisions.  Now everyone was more involved in the decision making process and added real value to our classroom activities.   When we entered the classroom the next day our Personal Kanban was all set and we were ready to dive right in to the day’s activities.

This has been hands down the best year I’ve ever had in the classroom.  There are many positive takeaways I have had this year.   Using Personal Kanban  has made me a better educator. I have realized by being more organized I was able to accomplish so much more with my students and have more quality time to spend, learn and grow right along with them.  After all, that is why I became a teacher.


Next Post coming this Wednesday: Tracking Student Progress with LeanKit Kanban.

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Want more productivity photographs? You can view my collection on flickr.

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Want to know about Personal Kanban and not sure where to start?  Visit the website.  I highly recommend purchasing the book –Personal Kanban Mapping Work / Navigating Life by Tonianne DeMaria Barry and Jim Benson.


3 thoughts on “Personal Kanban Helps Me to be a Better Educator

  1. Pingback: Tracking Student Progress with LeanKit Kanban « not out of reach

  2. Hi Patty,

    Thanks for sharing another great post with us. I had to smile at your desk kanban. My work Personal Kanban also sits on my desk. I started using the desk about a year and a half ago, and it’s been a great way to keep my work front and centre where I can see it. At my new company, it’s also drawing lots of comments from people who have never heard of agile or lean, so it’s a great conversation starter.

    The thing that really hit home for me from your post, though, was the comment that being more organized has freed up your time so that you could spend more time with your students and learn and grow with them. This is exactly what I’ve experienced as a working mom using Personal Kanban. Weekends, in particular, are now much more relaxed, since our various kanbans give us the safe knowledge that we’re on top of things, and that we can enjoy our time off without worrying that we’ve forgotten something important. It’s been truly liberating.

    Take care,

  3. Pingback: Personal Kanban Helps Me to be a Better Educator » Text To All

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