Is your New Year’s resolution to become more organized? If so, why not start with your professional records? Whether you’re a teacher, bus driver, school nurse, paraprofessional, or other education employee, it’s a good idea to keep a file to protect your interests (or cover your proverbial tail). Keep this file at home—not at school.
Education and certification
Keep copies of your teaching/training certificates, certificates of attendance at professional development workshops, and college transcripts. Also keep records of any awards, commendations, and honors that you receive.
You should have copies of every contract you have signed, as well as a copy of the salary schedule for your job category. It’s also a good idea to keep your own record of sick leave and personal leave days, accumulated and used. Keep an up-to-date copy of the district’s policies and procedures manual.
Keep copies of everything you give your evaluator and everything your evaluator gives you during the evaluation cycle. After your evaluation, obtain a copy of the evaluation from your supervisor and keep a copy of any response you’ve written to the evaluation. It’s very important to keep copies of all written communication between you and the school’s administration. (If you have verbal communication with an administrator regarding your job, make notes of the conversation as soon as possible.) If you are placed on a professional improvement plan, make sure to keep copies of the plan and any correspondence regarding your progress.
Although sometimes it may seem tedious, keep a journal of out-of-the-ordinary happenings in the classroom. For instance, if there is an incident in your classroom after which a student is injured or states he or she is injured, make note of it to help you remember the details. If there is a question about it a month or two later, it will be much easier to recall what happened if you have notes regarding the incident.
Keep copies of communication with parents, whether positive or negative. Date the note and attach a copy of any reply or notes regarding verbal communication.
This may seem to be a lot of paperwork to keep, but it will be worth the effort if you are ever asked to recall an incident in the classroom or if your recollection of your sick leave balance does not match that of the human resources department.
As always, if you have an employment-related problem, don’t hesitate to contact your UniServ director. If the problem has escalated to the level of legal assistance, your UniServ staff will refer you to the Missouri NEA legal department for further assistance.
By Jacquie Shipma, former manager of legal services and human resources, and Karen Sholes, former legal services specialist