Getting work done when the kids want your attention?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by pamms, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. pamms

    pamms Comrade

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    Jul 25, 2007

    I know that many teachers get more of their own work done during the day than I seem to be able to manage. I think the main problem is that I really feel like I am on the 'kids' time during the school day. I feel that I should be able to get some paperwork done when they are doing seat work, but they ALWAYS have questions, or just want to show me stuff, or have some story they want to share, or want to read to me what they have 'so far'...also some get done fast, etc etc...

    anyway, how do you carve out time to get some work done when the kids are there? When they come up to talk to you, do you really say you can't talk to them? I have done that sometimes, when it's really crunch time for some paperwork, but then I feel bad that I have turned them away.
     
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  3. collteach

    collteach Comrade

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    Honestly, the only time I even tried to grade papers or get paperwork done was during our last 20 minutes of the day when students were reading independently. Even then, I was rarely able to get things done. For quick, easy to grade tests like spelling...the kids would happily work on something quietly while I graded them so they would know their scores.
     
  4. nasimi77

    nasimi77 Groupie

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    Most of my administrative type work really doesn't get done until the kids go home. We have a very set morning schedule when they do their problem set in math, which usually takes an hour. At this time I enter my tardies, attendance, etc. However, any paper grading I do at the end of the day.
     
  5. Daisyd

    Daisyd Rookie

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    Kids time

    At my school the teacher's have an office/workroom off of their classroom, so I don't even have a desk in my room. It's their philosophy that if the kids are in the room, we are to be actively engaged with them not getting our paperwork done. I definitely used to get more work done, but the kids got a lot less attention. :blush:
     
  6. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I teach 6 grade levels and if there is any free time during the day, it will be spent helping individual students (I teach SPED) Unfortunately, paperwork has to wait and it just has to be done off the clock. That must be why they pay us the Big Bucks!!
     
  7. Danigirl

    Danigirl Rookie

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    I also don't get much "work" done while the kids are in the room. I feel that my work when the kids are in the room is supposed to be interecting with them. I am always assessing, clarifying a lesson, working with small groups, listening to them read, etc. If you feel overwhelmed you might try making a teacher mailbox where the kids can write down their stories or messages and put them in your mailbox. :)
     
  8. Calalilys

    Calalilys Comrade

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    It is a big no-no at my school to not be engaged and interacting with the students in class. If our administration walks by, we should not be sitting at our desks doing our own work. We are expected to be working with students at all times.
     
  9. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 25, 2007

    Just spelling tests, mainly... or maybe a parent letter. I don't do many administrative tasks at school.
     
  10. Eliza

    Eliza Companion

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    :toofunny: :toofunny: :toofunny:

    But I thought teachers only worked from 8-3:30????;)
     
  11. wdwteach

    wdwteach Cohort

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    Jul 25, 2007

    It is frowned upon to work on paperwork during the school day at my school. That is what our 30 minute plan time is for! Now I just need some kind of time-warper so I can make 30 minutes into 2 hours!
     
  12. Pattie

    Pattie Companion

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    Jul 26, 2007

    I have found that once I give some independent work out, for instance a math page after a math lesson, I ask if anybody needs help to meet me at the kidney table. I usually have 3 or 4 kids, but once I get them going and reteach what is necessary, they stay working with me but I can also sit and correct papers while watching them and correcting them as we go flipping from them to my correcting has worked well for me. Sometimes I can also do this during journal time. I'll walk around for 5 minutes getting everyone started then I can call a few back to work with me but also have something to do of teacher type tasks. This way, even if somebody is walking in, you don't look like you are just at your desk grading papers or whatever.
     
  13. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Sometimes the teacher and I will take separate tables (max 3 tables) and bring our papers to the table with us (depends on the class and how independent the students are with that). Then as we are working, the students freely interrupt us. Sometimes we get paperwork done and sometimes we don't. But if they need us they are permitted to ask for help and our stuff is immediately dropped.
     
  14. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Jul 26, 2007

    It really depends.

    I don't do much sitting during the day, like most of us!

    I do most of my checking and grading during the free period (specials) or before or afterschool. :love:
     
  15. ecsmom

    ecsmom Habitué

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    I taught 4th for the past 2 years. I had a timer. After I would teach a lesson and answer questions, I set the timer for 15 minutes. We called this independent work time. The idea was to get the students to try the work on their own for a little while before asking me for additional help. I used this time to record grades and put their graded work in their mailboxes. I also gave a writing assessment practice once a month for 30 minutes. This helped the students not only with their writing but it also helped them learn to be still and quiet for extended periods of time. My principal came in during one of these practices. I was just watching them at the time but she seemed impressed with the idea
     
  16. collteach

    collteach Comrade

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    Jul 26, 2007

    I was fortunate to have a lot of students last year who were great independent workers, so as I said earlier, I could do a tiny bit of grading and things while they read and got ready to go home at the end of the day. I also could have them help me with some tasks like filing graded papers, stuffing our "Monday Folders", etc. That definitely took the burden off of me. Also, if something was not going in the gradebook, we would go over it together in class. That way students got instant feedback and we could go over things that they didn't understand right away. That also saved time. Earlier in my teaching career, I tried to collect and grade everything...even if it was not going in the grade book. Now I realize that was nuts. I just circulate throughout the room while we go over the work to be sure students are actually checking their work. Also, in order to to keep them on their toes, I will randomly collect work we go over together and award bonus points to students who have checked their work accurately. I really look for ways to limit the amount of paperwork. I try to collect the work that really shows what the kids know to put in the grade book, rather than just grading any old thing.
     
  17. prettyinpink

    prettyinpink Rookie

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    Jul 26, 2007

    i really never have a chacne to sit and grade papers during the day...i wish i did because i always felt so behind last year!!! I was working on my BEST portfolio for the state which definately contributed to the overwhelming feeling...My goal this year is to make better use of my time during my prep so that i don't feel so far behind!!
     
  18. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Jul 26, 2007

    I had a very disruptive student last year. My kiddos learned that after he had an episode that involved his being removed from the classroom that I would get out my clipboard & document exactly what happened. They knew not to interrupt me when I had the clipboard out.
     
  19. MrsPatten

    MrsPatten Comrade

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    The way our schedule works we have our spelling test and reading test on the same day. I give them back to back. I give spelling first then reading. I grade the spelling tests while giving the reading test. That's pretty much all the time I have to grade anything. I might get a little done when the kids are writing in their journals or eating snack.
     
  20. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I don't do paperwork during the day unless it's a prep, or maybe recess. I just don't have time. While kids are doing seat work, I'm going around the room answering questions or talking to them. During silent reading, I do conferences. During journal writing, I either am conferencing or reading journals.

    To ease up on the paper work, I keep a marking pen in my pocket. As I go around the room and look at their work, I will star it right when they finish. I look over it then, and if there is a problem, I circle it and they fix it right away. This way, when the papers get turned it, they have already been seen by me. I can't always get to each child, but it definitely eases the burdon. If I don't see each paper, I may have 1/3 left to correct after school.

    I also teach my kids very early on, that if I am meeting in a conference with another child, they are not to bother me. This gives me time alone with that kid. They have a list of things to do first before asking for my help. Usually this is during writing, but can also be during math or reading. Most of the time they just want to know how to spell a word, pronounce a word or understand the directions on the math sheet.

    -Skip it, and go onto the next step
    -Make a guess
    -Ask a friend
    -Look it up (dictionary, reference book, glossary)

    Also, I found that by lessening the AMOUNT of seat work I provide for them, the easier my life has been. About midway through last year, I started writing my morning message on the white board and having them respond on an index card, instead of seat work in the a.m. It was less work for them, but also for me, and they would go right into SSR for the day when they were through, so the mornings were very calm and relaxing. We got to go over it as a class in morning meeting, and I could thumb through the cards easily to see how they did. I would put the kids who missed it, in the back and flag them for later repeated practice.

    In math, I started giving ONE more complex story problem, that was multi-step and would take awhile to solve and involved a lot of critical thinking. I would copy the problem on tiny slips of paper, maybe 2 inches long. One or two sheets of paper cut up would do it for the class. They would staple or tape it to a sheet of loose leaf, and work on that problem, being sure to show the answer, and write their explanation. This eased a lot of work for me too.
    When they were done, they would do a math activity that took little or no paper, like a game relating to the unit, something with manipulatives or on the white boards. We didn't do this for every math lesson, but a couple times a week.

    My goal was to use less paper in my classroom, but it ended up saving me a lot of work as well.
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 26, 2007

    If the kids need you, they need you. They are your priority. You can do the paperwork over lunch, during a prep period, take it home...I do very little paperwork when my kids are in the room- I'm too busy teaching them, conferring, checking in on them, helping...that should be your main focus...:whistle:
     
  22. Teacherella

    Teacherella Habitué

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    I heard of this idea from another teacher (1st grade). When the students were doing independent work and needed help, they were supposed to figure it out on their own first, ask a friend or several other things before asking the teacher. She would wear a tiara and that signaled not to ask her for help. I'm a bit torn on this because although students do ask a lot of questions that they could easily find out on their own (with a little effort on their part), it is your job as a teacher to help them. Plus, if they are asking a lot of questions, it might mean that you didn't clearly state the directions or that they didn't understand the lesson.
     
  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Are you kidding? Don't ask the queen for help? What was her highness doing while wearing the tiara? This is a little outrageous...
     
  24. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Last year students had trouble with independence skills. We set up an independent center (along with reading intervention, guided reading and word study rotations) and the students tended to constantly interrupt my word study center needing my help. I didn't mind them needing help but I knew that most of it stemmed from the lack of knowing HOW to work independently than it did on doing the review work. So I taught strategies of what to look for, how to to look around the problem and then go back and see they can figure it out, skip the problem and come back to it and so forth. Every time I they raised their hands, I didn't skip a beat and asked if they tried strategy A. Then they would try it. Then they would raise their hand and I would ask if they tried step B yet. I wouldn't get up and look at their stuff and they couldn't come to my table until they were truly stuck. They still somewhat interrupted by the fact that I had to walk them through it but that I didn't mind at all because they needed to be taught these skills. I can understand the frustration enough to do the Tiera, but I think it is a bit overboard and tacky.

    Another thing I did at one point was have feathers in a can. They put their feather (with their name on it) in a can when they have a problem they want help with. The rule is you can't stop working just because you have a problem. You put the feather in a can and then go on to another problem. When I am able, I will come around to your feather and help. I started this one day when I was by myself and the students all wanted my help at the same time and because of their lack of basic independence skills they couldn't be patient and wait their turn. It got overwhelming. So I stopped and tried something new. They liked it. I liked it the most simply because they had to practice continuing to work and not stop because they are stuck on something (a bad habit).
     
  25. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Love the feather idea, cutNglue! :up:
     
  26. MrsPatten

    MrsPatten Comrade

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    I had trouble with kids interrupting when I was progress monitoring for reading or even when I had small groups at my table. I had a headband I would wear that had two big pink fuzzy balls on springs. I taught them that when I was wearing this they couldn't ask for help unless it was an emergency because *another student* needed my *undivided* attention for that time period. It worked well for those times when I had paperwork that had to be completed immediately!

    I edited to add this: Anytime that I used this they were either reading silently or, well, playing at free stations. They weren't coming to ask me questions about their work. It was in Kindergarten and they were saying things like "My toenail hurts" or "So-and-so is looking at me."

    Thought I should explain that or someone would get mad about it because I wasn't giving my students the attention they needed.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2007
  27. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Wearing a hat of some kind when working or conferring with students as a sign to others to not disturb you is one thing. Wering a tiara so you are not bothered while you do 'housecleaning' or paperwork is another.... Yes, students need to learn to solve some of their own problems and also to learn that they need to wait their turn for the teachers' attention BUT sending a sign to not bother the teacher while she is not working with kids is not right....
     
  28. love_reading

    love_reading Comrade

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    Jul 27, 2007

    I only get paperwork done during planning time while the kids are at specials or before or after school. In my opinion, I am getting paid to work with my students and while they are in the room with me they are my responsibility. Many of the kids in my class don't get attention at home so when they are proud of a picture they've colored and want to show me I listen. I would be really upset if I found out my daughter's teacher turned her away just to get some paperwork done. JMO
     
  29. ecsmom

    ecsmom Habitué

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    Just to be clear, I have NEVER turned away anyone who asked for help during independent work time. However, I firmly believe it is vital to teach children to think for themselves and they need to practice this as a skill. I also taught 6-8 LA and had way to many who wouldn't even try to work independently. Yes, we are paid to work with the students but we are also paid to teach children to think for themselves. A major complaint in our area is that the previous grade teachers spoon-fed the students.
     
  30. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It's so easy for teachers to blame previous grade teachers for whatever bothers them about kids. HS blames elementary, Who do the K teachers blame? PreK! Who do the preK teachers blame? Parents!! How about OUR CULTURE does not encourage kids to struggle a little? Let's stop playing the blame game and give students the help they need when they need it and encourage them to think, work it out, stick with it a little longer so they can grow those feelings of capability and independence...:2cents:
     
  31. ecsmom

    ecsmom Habitué

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    Exactly!
     
  32. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    Jul 27, 2007

    The only time I can do paperwork, and even then it's not always, is when I'm giving them a test. I don't like to circulate the room too often during big tests because I don't want students to feel more pressure or rushed or anything... so I just stand in the back or sit at my desk and watch them. Usually if I try to get paperwork done it is paused for when kids have questions on the test - but they come up to me instead of me going to them so we don't bother others, so I can resume paperwork quickly.

    I wouldn't recommend silent reading time as paperwork time. Normally during that time I'm either modelling good reading skills by reading something at my desk myself (very important in my opinion) or assessing student's reading skills one-on-one.

    I also wouldn't recommend paperwork during independent work time. While we don't want to spoon feed kids by walking them through what should be independent work by reteaching the lesson to them. By circulating the room you are able to at least check progress and ensure some students aren't way off track and don't realize it.

    Bottom line.. don't feel bad that you can't get your paperwork done during school because many don't do that anyhow!
     
  33. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Jul 27, 2007

    I like to get to school early, fix a cup of coffee, and settle in at my desk to knock out as much paperwork as possible before my kids come in. (I can get to school an hour before the students are allowed in the building.) It is AMAZING what I can get done in that time while I'm fresh and uninterupted. I make sure that the room is clean and set up for the next day before I leave to safeguard that time.

    I find I can do "my" seatwork while monitoring tests, and like a previous poster said, if I give a fairly simple quiz the children are more than happy to work quietly for a few minutes to allow me to finish grading them (they want their results! :) ) Other than that (and even then) I feel I'm primarily there to be available to my students - I feel some of my best teaching occurs one on one or small group during this independent work time.

    Something that has helped me I learned from another teacher - never, ever, be without some kind of paperwork you can do. I have one of those plastic file thingees - not the box, more like a packet? - and work "to be graded" goes in here and that goes with me everywhere. You'd be amazed at what you can get done in your "spare time" - 5 minutes at lunch, 10 minutes waiting for a meeting to start, 15 minutes during planning while you're chatting with another teacher - it really adds up over the course of a week.
     

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