Crystal Johnson’s Together Tour: Issue #102

Nov 29, 2023

Together Friends!

Did anyone else have a “Case of the Second Mondays” this week? (a term coined by Together Team member Ana). After our family’s return from our version of The Griswolds-Spend-Nine-Days-In-Ireland (sidenote: my teenagers use the phrase “Look kids, a deer!” way too often), I returned to Together Central a little. . . Jetlagged? Grateful to my husband’s brother and elderly aunts? Happy to never have all six of us share a hotel room again?

Okay, it is all of the above. Luckily, a Together Tenet of our team is Plan Ahead—and thanks to some forcing functions on our team, I came back to all of my classes already loaded in Nearpod, my priorities laid out, and my Outlook calendar in tip-top shape. Re-entry is a heck of a lot easier if you do the work in advance!

Versha’s Together Tour was met with a great response, and today I am excited to share another Together Human with you. And be assured, my intent with these Together Tours is not to say you must do things certain ways, or these people are perfect, or this is the pinnacle of Togetherness. Rather, it is a peek behind the curtain about how various people in differing roles have found systems that work for them, in their current roles, in this season of their lives. We have a bunch on deck, and you could nominate a colleague or yourself by clicking here. Fine print: We will not be able to showcase all nominations, but we will read them all in depth and reply!

Together Tour: Crystal Johnson

I’m very excited to introduce you to Crystal, who we first met in 2016, at one of our favorite schools – Baychester Middle in the Bronx. Crystal has been in touch with The Together Group since her teacher days, and she has since transitioned into the operations world. We love this career path! And. . . occasionally Crystal serves as a Together Teaching Assistant with us – and we will be hanging together in January up in Westchester County with this amazing group.

Tell us about yourself. 
I’m Crystal Johnson, and I work at Baychester Middle School in the Bronx as the Director of Operations. I was first introduced to The Together Group when I started teaching in 2016.  My principal signed all the rookies up for a workshop as he understands just how important it is to be ‘Together’ in this profession.

Why is Togetherness essential in your role? 
In my new role as Director of Operations, I handle tasks related to all teachers, students, and families at the school.  It is extremely important for me to stay organized and prioritize my tasks each week so that all of my constituents feel supported.

What are your Top Two Together Tools and why?
The first is my Google Calendar. The color coding is helpful because it’s a quick way for me to organize my tasks by category (i.e. personal items from work- a meeting that I attend with an outside vendor, school wide- a meeting I organize with principal & teachers, and then personal life items). I manage the Google Cal for the entire school so I have to be really on it!  While it may look overwhelming to see so many events daily, I actually really appreciate seeing everything in one place, and reviewing it daily in the morning helps me prep for everything the day has in store.

The second is my Weekly Worksheet.

What is the first and last thing you do at work each day?
The first thing I do each day (on my commute) is review my Google Calendar for a refresher of what my day looks like.  Before leaving work, I review my Weekly Worksheet to check off tasks I completed, update with any new tasks, and ensure I am prepared for the following day.

How do you use Togetherness with colleagues, students, managers, board members, etc?
All my students use planners and I perform daily planner checks during afternoon advisory. I select a student each day as a helper who completes planner checks and ensures all students have homework and tasks written down. I want to start building strong habits with my middle schoolers now! [Editor’s Note: I love this so much! You can read more about some of our Together Student profiles herehere and here.]

With my team, I send agendas 24 hours in advance to allow them time to review and add their own information. I keep the meeting agendas open all week and add information/questions/tasks as they pop up.

How do you use Togetherness on the home front?

I am single so just keeping myself organized for now! [Editor’s Note: Maybe we should set up a Togetherness Dating Service. . . just saying!]

One Together Trick I do that no one knows about is. . . 

I borrowed this one from my principal, but I hide away in a quiet, low traffic area of the school when I have work burst times in my schedule. I do this so that I can get work done without being distracted. I also schedule send messages to myself and to others to support with future work.

Some great productivity apps that I use for yearly workflows are Trello and Flow.

One area that you are NOT Together and fine about it is. . . 

Meal prep! I’d be rich if I didn’t order lunch at work three times a week 😂

When you are at your most Together, your lunch at work is _________!

Courtesy of HelloFresh

If you could recommend one purchase from an office supply store, it would be . . . 

That would definitely be flair tip Paper Mate pens in every color because they spark joy!! It’s a wonderful writing utensil.

Crystal, thank you for sharing your busy operations world with us. I loved learning about your low-traffic focus spot at school, and we love some Student Togetherness. 

We’ll be back in January with another Together Tour – this time we’ll see how a Program Director at an education-based nonprofit keeps it Together!

Together Treasure Box

  • Communicating about the Communication As promised in our last Tour newsletter, I blogged about TNTP’s communication norms. Aligning around a shared set of norms can be SO helpful for a team.
  • 2024, here we come! January is truly right around the corner. Give yourself the gift of completing this Calendar Planning Bingo!
  • But why is it a tomato?? One of MY favorite Together Tricks is the Pomodoro method – the 25-minutes of focus with a 5-minute break in between is a rhythm that works really well for me. It’s how I get these blog posts and books written, in fact!