As music teachers it sometimes feels as if we are SWIMMING in order forms and student money. This fall my list of orders include T-shirts, recorders, method books, field trip money, field trip lunch money, choir shirts, performance DVDs, and choir pictures. The responsibility is both endless and significant. Over the years I’ve developed some mind saving, integrity safe-guarding habits that I hope you find helpful.
1. I print the order form on the envelopes themselves. Yes – it IS worth the time and the ink to put all of that information on the envelop!!!!! If you don’t think that an entire envelop size of information is necessary, try printing the form on a label and putting that on your envelopes.
I include a place on each envelop for parents to provide the following information on each envelop
student first and last name
order details (i.e. shirt size, prices)
2. I do not accept money of any kind unless it is in one of my envelopes! Ever! I can’t be expected to remember that little Mary handed me her money – I can’t even remember that Mary is really Marie! And I don’t know her last name either, so if the teachers name isn’t on the form then good luck…..
3. I turn in all money every day – If I turn it in and it’s locked in the safe with the correct documentation filled out neatly and accurately then I will ensure that my financial secretary likes me. A happy financial secretary is a financial secretary who might push your music order through the system quickly in a pinch…. A unhappy financial secretary will not be in any rush to meet my needs.
4. I keep my own records besides what I turn in. Spreadsheets are my friend!!!! That may make it seem like I’m doing everything twice….. You’re right, I am…. but what if one of the checks I turn in doesn’t clear or someone demands change for their $20.00. I HAVE to know every detail. MY spreadsheet also provides a convenient place to mark down the date in which the student received their items. For reasons why this is important…..see the anecdote on #6. If I had recorded the date of receipt for that particular item, I would have known that “little Johnny” never got his recorder.
5. I write down the contents of the envelopes on the envelopes themselves including check numbers and cash amounts. What if technology fails? Then I have a paper copy!
6. I keep the envelope forms all year. One time I had a very quiet and reserved child purchase a recorder and then they were absent on the day we passed them out…. One thing led to another, and before either of us meant for it to happen, it took him 3 months to tell me. I’m so glad I had a record that backed up his claim. I had marked that he had bought one but never received it.
7. I never count money alone. Most places have a procedure in place to help you avoid that situation, but just in case your situation is a little less rigorous in their financial set-ups, remember that you can always choose to be more careful than what is required. Those procedures and safe guards are put in place to protect your integrity as a professional as well as the integrity of your program. Although they seem inconvenient they are the best way to ensure that everything goes according to plan and that all funds are used as intended.