(Grades, new preps, student recommendations, car insurance, grocery shopping, remembering birthdays, oh my!)
It’s stressful when a million random things loom over you. Some teachers are made for this. They are organized and graceful and leave others in awe. Others teachers could use an assistant, a massage, and Marie Kondo’s help. If you feel like you’re drowning in work… try out an idea or two from the list to be more productive and have more time for you.
1.) Get in the habit of writing a TO DO list.
2.) Write your list the day before.
3.) Break down the big stuff.
- Grade 5 assessments from 1st period
- Grade 5 more 1st period
- Finish grading 1st period’s assessments
- Enter 1st period’s grades
I later realized I could do 5 assessments before class started or while I heated my lunch or while another class was taking the same assessment. Each little task chipped away at what used to feel like an impossibly big job. Even if ALL assessments weren’t graded in a day, I felt progress – not stress or guilt.
4.) Evaluate the list.
I was. For me, it came in the form of grading stuff that didn’t need grades. I was doing it because I thought I need to. I assumed students wouldn’t do an activity if I didn’t give points. I assumed that lots of grades showed I was doing my job. Later, it finally sunk in that fewer grades were more impactful, less frustrating for students, and saved me a ton of time! This freed me up to do more of what mattered to me… planning better lessons, spending more time with family, and enjoying time away from work!
When I work with teachers, most mention grading as one of the things that weigh them down. How many grades does your school ask for? 3x week? What if that’s all you did? Could they self-assess an activity or exit slip? Absolutely! Plan to only grade tasks that best showcase student learning. Anything that leads up to that is just practice with feedback!
5.) Learn to delegate little tasks.
I always had a student or two who loved to straighten papers on my desk before class. At first I thought was weird, then I saw the opportunity. I would ask if they wanted to alphabetize papers for me. They would put assessments in order so that after I graded them, I could enter them in the computer super fast. It was (strangely) fun for them and saved me time.
Can you let your artistic students do your next bulletin board or word wall? Give them a theme and let them shine!
My friend Toni and her husband are both teachers and they decided as a family to share the cooking responsibilities. They all take turns cooking so all the work isn’t on just one person. Could your own children start helping you cook so you have a night out of the kitchen?
We do a lot, but we don’t have to do it all alone. Inviting others to help isn’t being lazy, it’s smart and it makes us a team!
6.) Get started with power half-hours.
7.) Rollover unfinished work.
8.) Reward yourself with the time you saved!
If you had someone to help you 5 hours a week… what would you like them to do for you?
It’s fun to dream, right?