George Lucas Educational Foundation
Professional Learning

A Definitive Guide to Teacher Checklists

September 27, 2012

In The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande writes about the importance of list making as a process of working through critical decisions, and list reviewing as a critical element to support aspirations. Marc Andreeson, a checklist user, attained extraordinary success by inventing the web browser. Later he joined the board of eBay and Facebook and co-founded Ning. Andreeson's secret: before going to sleep, he writes down three to five things he plans to accomplish the next day on an index card. " . . . I try like hell to get just those things done. If I do, it was a successful day." When he completes other tasks, he uses the back of the card (which he calls his "anti-to-do list") to record what he has finished. At the end of the day, he tears up the card -- mission accomplished -- and reaches for another.

Like gathering fallen leaves, teachers use checklists to organize their responsibilities by context, urgency, projects, next steps, energy, etc. "[S]uccess," writes Gawande in Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, "requires making a hundred small steps go right -- one after the other, no slip ups, no goofs . . . "

After reading Gawande's checklist for checklists and re-reading Lifehacker's seminal checklist of do's and don'ts, I spent a few hours combing through online education sites to find the best teacher checklists. The section below categorizes my favorites into several sections: Checklists to Give Students, Checklists to Give Parents and General Checklists Useful to Teachers. If you know of others, please provide links in the comment section.

Professional Checklists for Many Occasions

Checklists to Give Students

Checklists to Give Parents

General Checklists Useful to Teachers

My favorite online list manager, Remember The Milk, integrates with Google Calendar, iPad, iPhone and Android, but I’m going to take David Pierce's suggestion and keep nine must-have lists handy in my Moleskine notebook.

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