Simplify your teaching; simplify your life! Avoid teacher time traps associated with grading, committee work, planning, decorating, and more. It’s time to work smarter, not harder.
Limit Grading – We are teachers, not graders. The purpose of grading is to keep your finger on the pulse of the classroom. Think about ways you can shift daily instruction to better assess student progress and move away from collecting so many papers.
- Use formative assessment strategies, such as hand signals (thumbs up, thumbs up, fingers to show answer choice, etc.)
- Ask students to write on dry-erase boards and hold up answers for you to see.
- Use electronic response systems.
- Spot check with a clipboard.
- Choose one or two key questions to check.
- Use exit tickets.
- Check together; discuss multiple perspectives, various ways to solve problems, or peer exemplars.
- Chalk it up to practice: use the old-fashioned method of letting kids work problems on the board.
- Teach students how to proofread and edit writing; move to a peer-editing or self-editing model.
- Use rubrics. Look for specific standards in action instead of nitpicking every little thing.
Join Selectively – You don’t need to be on every committee. Choose one or two that really interest you.
Collaborate – Split the work with a colleague or two to simplify your life and theirs.
- Share planning. Each of you can plan one subject or unit. Share lesson plans, student materials, assessments, games, and more.
- Share instructional materials. When you find something that works, share it with your colleagues. Ask them to do the same.
- Share students. Most classrooms have students who are too high or low to benefit from the pace of instruction. Cluster students with similar needs in one classroom to make differentiation a snap.
- Share ideas.
- Provide moral support. Regardless of experience, every teacher has bad days. Share your highs and lows with other educators. Knowing that others experience the same things you do is comforting.
Display, Don’t Decorate – Hang student work on your walls to celebrate learning. This will simplify your teaching and provide evidence of learning.
Streamline Daily Demands – Embrace routines. Plan ahead. Be systematic.
- Organize your daily schedule to maximize instruction and minimize minutiae. If administrative tasks (like attendance or collecting papers) are taking too much time, seek creative solutions.
- Keep certain parts of your instruction, such as spelling or vocabulary, the same each week. It’s a real time-saver, and students will know what to expect.
- Plan ahead. Have a system for developing lesson plans, copying papers, etc.
- Plan your meals and wardrobe ahead of time. Make a menu and do your grocery shopping over the weekend. Pack your lunch and set out your clothes the night before. Stick a roast in the crockpot so dinner’s ready when you get home.
Stop trying to swim against the tide! It’s time to simplify your teaching.