Christmas Break is upon us! You made it! Hopefully you’ve had time to curl up in your sweats with your favorite holiday movie or just binge watch Netflix. We’re sure you earned it! Winter Break is a time to recharge those batteries and also reflect on what worked this past semester and what changes need to be made. We feel the best changes to make (especially mid-year), are those that help to lighten your workload and streamline specific processes. The best areas to do that in are the ones that tend to drain teachers’ time.
We recommend making at least one of your New Year’s Resolutions a “Teacher Resolution”. This would be something school related and that creates more free time for you (not more work!). There are three main areas that seem to eat away at teacher’s time and sanity: Grading, lesson planning, finding resources. Therefore, our suggestions are centered around those areas.
If you are constantly feeling overwhelmed with grading papers, this is the area where you will want to find 1-2 changes you can make to lighten your load. Maybe it is cutting down the number of grades you take in a week and adding a participation grade to cover the rest. Perhaps it is putting in a peer review system for large papers/projects so that you only grade that assignment once instead of 2-3 times. It could also be going digital and having students turn in work electronically via a system like Google Drive. We recommend trying this out with a few assignments over the course of the next semester to see how you like it before jumping in full time. Check out our article on Grading Timesavers for some other ideas on how to make grading easier.
2. Lesson Planning:
Lesson planning is a huge drain on time. Quite honestly, after your first few years it seems a little more like a hoop to jump through than a necessary evil. Once you have taught the same subject for several years, you have good lessons built up and have a general idea of how you are going to present the material each week. Depending on what your administrator requires, lesson planning can be a breeze or the thing you dread each week. The important thing is to to make sure you don’t put it off. Try to do a few things each day the week prior. This ensures it doesn’t take as much time when you actually sit down to write out your plans. Read our Easier Lesson Plans article for additional tips and to see the programs we recommend trying out to streamline your lesson plans. BONUS: They get saved electronically for future use!
3. Finding Resources:
Finding resources goes hand in hand with lesson planning. This is what teachers spend the majority of their time on. The problem is, you can get overloaded with materials. We recommend making a list of your top websites, textbooks, blogs, etc… to use when you are in a pinch. Sometimes there are so many resources out there you can spend two hours looking at it all, and still not know what you want to use. Make sure that any item that goes on your list is one that has come through for you multiple times and that you don’t have more than 3-5 in any one category. This list is your “go to” when you are in a pinch and will help you find what you need without wasting time. Bonus points if you make your list electronic with links you can just click.
- ThingLink is a great site that allows you to link sites and resources in a creative and visual way.
- Diigo is a website bookmarker that you can personalize to the sites you visit most. It even has sticky notes, but what we like best is that no matter what computer you are using, as long as you are logged in, your bookmarks stay with you.
Check out our Effective Media in the Classroom article for more on how to streamline your resources. We hope that you have a restful and relaxing break and a happy New Year!