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.
Ms. Sneed Gets Overwhelmed
Like all new teachers, Ms. Sneed did the dirty deed. Yes, our favorite fourth grade teacher bit off more than she could chew. Her life-work balance – well, what life-work balance? All she did was teach or prepare to teach. Something had to give.
Ms. Sneed’s mentor, Mrs. Brown, noticed the dark circles around her eyes. And she noticed how her smile was fading. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“All I ever do is work,” replied Ms. Sneed.
“Ah, it’s time we had a little talk,” her mentor said kindly (but firmly).
Simplify Your Teaching by Limiting Grading
The next day, Ms. Sneed met with Mrs. Brown. It was pretty much a one-way conversation. Here’s what Mrs. Brown had to say: “We are teachers, not graders. Therefore, it’s time to limit grading.
“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.
Simplify Your Teaching by Joining Selectively
“Second, you don’t need to be on every committee. Choose one or two that really interest you.
Simplify Your Teaching by Collaborating
“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
“Finally, 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.
- And, of course, have a system for getting to work on time.
To put it bluntly, stop trying to swim against the tide. It’s time to simplify your teaching.”
Ms. Sneed knew that Mrs. Brown was right. She vowed to simplify her teaching – and start living a full life.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Sneed realized that there were 6 steps to enjoy teaching. In order to survive, she had to organize, plan, and simplify. Then, to thrive, Ms. Sneed needed to learn, engage, and finally – dive in! Follow the Fabulous Teaching Adventures of Ms. Sneed and learn how you can enjoy teaching too.