I remember when I first started teaching and didn’t know if I’d be having new students that day or not. Because I started teaching at the local community center, they did the sign ups and I taught whoever came in.
The parents would then give me the receipts after they’d paid for class and I’d keep them in a folder, ordered by date. That was the extent of my record keeping.
I didn’t have a class enrollment form, and I rarely met many of the parents who dropped off their kids. I was free of responsibility and it was great!
Or so I thought…
What I soon realized was that I had no way of contacting my students because their contact information wasn’t present on the receipt, or if it was often it was illegible. This quickly became a nightmare when I had to cancel class, and had a whole bunch of uncontactable people. Worse yet – in an emergency there wasn’t an easy way (if at all) to get in contact with the family of an injured student.
And of course it was financially naive to trust students (particularly parents) to know if they’d paid for class or not – so I’d have students who were effectively training for free without my consent.
Trying to relay a message from child to parent and back about their financial situation, is kinda like speaking to an untrained dog – it’s one way communication. Sometimes you get a tilt of the head, a puzzled look and even some noise that sounds promising, but rarely does the proper action follow.
In short I was like many martial arts instructors who start out this way – disorganized. I was trying to do the best I could with what I had, but shortly realized there had to be a better way.
I needed to get organized.
I started using class enrolment forms to track student data. Like what rank they were, when they started, when they were due to test next, when they last paid for class, etc. I then kept it all in an excel spreadsheet, and for a while this worked ok. It was a far more effective system than what I had with the receipts in the folder.
Using this method I was able to keep good records for up to about 30 students, but after that it became challenging with the increasing numbers. There was a need to move to something that would work for a potentially unlimited number of students. That’s when I wrote the Dojo Organizer. (I now have over 450 student records available at the click of a mouse).
Why is it important to keep good records?
Good records mean you can contact your students quickly and easily…
Good records allow you to plan the financial state of your school…
Good records managed electronically save you time and frustration as you can perform time consuming tasks far more quickly – like printing grading certificates, emailing receipts, printing off a list of who is ready to test, etc.
Good records allow your club to grow – yes, it’s true. When you’re on top of things and aren’t losing students because of bad record keeping, you position yourself to grow your school faster.
All these things are difficult and time consuming to do when you’re not organized.
Think of being organized electronically, like a basket to carry your groceries. Without it you can manage a few things, but when the number of items exceeds what you can physically carry, the basket is a very handy tool.
Same goes for electronic record keeping.
Are you organized?