Staying caught up...?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by irishrose, Jan 5, 2020.

  1. irishrose

    irishrose Rookie

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    Jan 5, 2020

    Hi everyone :)

    I was wondering: does it drive anyone else crazy that no matter how hard you try or how many extra hours you put in, you cannot stay caught up? If so, what do you do about it? (The awful feeling, I mean.)
    Also, is there anyone reading this and thinking, no I basically stay caught up...? And if you are, would you please share tips! Thanks!

    *I should explain - I am in my late 30s and have had several different jobs and careers in my life. In most of them, you had to be finished with your work before you could go home. Well, I tried that approach with my 1st teaching job and ended up staying up around the clock! (Nope, not kidding!) So now when I try to catch up and get everything from yesterday (and last week and all semester...) caught up between that evening, the next day (we're on block - I teach HS), and the morning of a new lesson {**with "caught up" defined as all grades in, portfolios checked, all makeup work graded, zeroes removed if needed, parents called as needed, emails sent about important issues, data and important notes logged, principals and team emailed as needed...etc....}, it seems I can literally almost NEVER do it and I start to feel a sense of dread and absolute deficiency as students enter for class for the next lesson and it all begins over again to continue piling up, to repeat the cycle...
    *And yes in case you're wondering, I am somewhat of a perfectionist. I have worked on that for a number of years now and it's *better*, but not gone! So please don't include "stop being a perfectionist" in your advice (cuz I don't think its gona work!), but if you have strategies that help your own perfectionist tendencies from driving you to the looney bin, then by all means please include those! Thanks again. Sorry this was so long, but I really do appreciate your advice!
     
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  3. Janeway

    Janeway Rookie

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    Jan 5, 2020

    To stay on track as best as possible, part of my morning routine when I get to my room is to make a short list on a post-it. The list has “must be done today” “should be done today” and “needs to be done this week.” Sometimes I add a “want to get done” if I’m working on a new idea for a potential lesson etc... I try to keep the list short- hence the post it, check off as they get done, and throwing away the post it is very satisfying. This makes sure the has to be done gets done and the rest at least gets attention. This is my first year that I have set a strict no working outside contract hours policy for myself. Otherwise, I’d never stop.

    Another way I have cut down on work was to streamline the grading/assignments. I focused on giving fewer, quality assignments instead of lots of small daily grades to keep up with. There is intense pressure on teachers to work ourselves to the bone because “it’s for the kids.” Well I don’t subscribe to that any more. I will do my job during the hours I’m there, but I will not be shamed or feel obligated to stay until 6pm, work weekends, or holidays at home to feel “caught up.”
     
  4. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jan 5, 2020

    I leave by 4:00 every day except one, and I stay later that day to prep for the next week, finish grading, clean, etc. I’m usually leaving by 5:30 at the latest. I don’t take work home.

    I have learned that there is always something I could do, but I don’t always need to do. I spot check assignments. I check some things as they work. I stagger due dates. I don’t grade everything. Kids help with some duties like cleaning and straightening. I have 10 to 20 minutes between dismissal rounds, and those kids really help a lot.

    There were times when I worked too much, but honestly things weren’t any better in my class than they are now, I have learned to prioritize by “must do today”, “must do this week”, “must do by x date”, and “could do if I have extra time”.
     
  5. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Groupie

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    Jan 5, 2020

    1. Realize the "perfectionist" part of it is driving you. ( Been there.)
    2. Decide what is really important to you. I value learning a lot. I started putting more time into teaching and less into paperwork. I grade important papers and toss most practices. I wander around, check, and make comments on papers while the kids are working on practices. Also, I give some back, so they are never sure if it will be graded.
    3. Running List- I keep one and cross jobs off and add to them as I go for "must do tasks."
    4. Understand fully that a lot of stuff is not important. If it is not in important, I don't kill myself with it. We all make mistakes and chances are no1 is going to notice most of them. :) Mind you, I used to be 1 who proofread lesson plans for hours. Mine were copied by admin for other teachers to see what they "should " look like.
    Looking back, I am sure there were a lot of teachers who enjoyed their Saturday lesson plan free time and probably were looking at me like I was a moron! My lesson plans later became minimal. I didn't care either. I knew what I was doing and where I was heading, so having it written perfectly did not merit my time.
    5. Get the kids to help you with some tasks. You'd be surprised how much some like to help.
    6. Organization helps a lot. I got to the point where I could work contract hours + about 40 more minutes a day. I envy people who can stop at contract hours still. lol
    7. I quit taking work home w/ me yrs ago.
    That is how I survived teaching for as long as I did. Good luck and know they give you more to do in a day that is humanly possible to do w/out totally burning out.
     
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  6. irishrose

    irishrose Rookie

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    Jan 15, 2020

    Thanks to everyone who responded already! I tried the grading less along the way thing last year and wasn't at all sure this didn't lead to less accountability and less attention paid so that when we did get to the big stuff they didn't know it... OR, this also happened:
    I did peer workshop on every big writing task. Kids had checklist. (I teach 9th ELA.) Well, thanks to the fact that I did not personally eyeball each draft, I discovered that kids did NOT know how to correctly answer questions like "Does the paper state a clear claim?" (I was really shocked, actually!) So....Thoughts? I guess the secret is not telling them it won't be graded...?
    And I did grade the peer review comments. And they did work hard on them, I felt. It's just that they didn't completely understand the task as well as either I or they thought that they did!!
     
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  7. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Jan 15, 2020

    I teach elementary but I never tell them what I will or will not grade. When they ask me whether something counts as a grade, I simply say “of course!”

    I do not grade everything but I reserve the right to grade anything. That fact is not advertised by me but I’d never tell students that anything will not count for points, otherwise they’d put in no effort at all. I’m at a high achieving school and grades (or the unspoken threat of a poor grade) are extremely motivating for my students.
     
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  8. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Jan 16, 2020

    My district has adopted its own standards (state standards, but organized into a list of "what we guarantee!" and "What we will try to get in!")

    It has done marvels for grading because the only thing they want graded is assessments of the standards. I love it.

    This of course was the district, but I see no reason why any teacher, short of having requirements on them, couldn't pick the Most Important to be Graded.
     
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  9. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Groupie

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    Jan 17, 2020

    Most definitely! That is the secret! ;) Also, I found grading 1 out 5 practices doable. So they really never knew which 1 would be graded. If you grade Thursday or Friday, you can see more of what they know too. Then you don't get shocked. :)
     
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  10. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Jan 21, 2020

    Yeah, that makes the most sense. There's no reason you need to tell them what will be graded. If it's assigned then they need to do it. Period.
     
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  11. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jan 22, 2020

    1. Grade less papers
    2. If you feel you must grade certain papers...decide to spend less time grading each paper (maybe by correcting half the problems or having a rubric.)

    Nearly every teacher I know who is buried in paperwork, spends a lot of time on grading. This is usually the best way to reduce the time load without reducing time planning or teaching.
     
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