What do you do to make your worklife easier?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by paperheart, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Jan 16, 2011

    Hi everyone. My new year's resolution was to focus on ways to make my life easier (both at home and at work). I have been really focusing on what will save time, simplify, and reduce stress.

    I's love to hear what you do to make teaching run more smoothly for you. I'll also post a thread for the same topic, but regarding home life. :)

    Here's a few things that work for me:

    1. The Circa Levenger notebook system (I also combine with compatible Rollabind products.)
    2. Franklin Covey Laptop tote--this is my teacher bag. I LOVE it. I only use this bag and bring it to work, to car, and inside the house everyday. no exceptions. Right after I lock my classroom door I put my keys in the side pocket and get my car keys out of the same side pocket (rather than my purse). I haven't misplaced my keys yet!
    3. Wear my classroom keys (and ID) on a lanyard around my neck during the day.
    4. the flylady control journal (flylady.net) I made one for work tasks (check email, grade assignments, etc) to help form a routine. I have a list for the morning and for the afternoon for each workday and check off as I go.
    5. online-stopwatch.com I set this for 5, 7, or 10 min at the end of the day and declutter my desk. I usually find ALL of the papers I was looking for in the process.
     
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  3. G00d d00bie

    G00d d00bie Rookie

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    Jan 16, 2011

    Avoid allowing the admin. excuses to give unreasonable duties. This can lead to teacher overload which then allows the admin. to make a case for watering down the curriculum so it is easier for them to keep parents happy.
     
  4. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    Jan 16, 2011

    I'm organized, and I try to keep a consistent schedule.

    By being organized I don't spend time looking for things or redoing things I've lost. By keeping a routine I don't waste time waste time trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing. I just do it.
     
  5. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Jan 16, 2011

    I have 2 student aides (8th graders) and there are so many times that they come in while I'm teaching and I don't have time to tell them what I need done. Or I just go blank.

    Now, I have started keeping a notebook in which I jot down lists of things they can do AS I THINK OF THEM. It has helped me get so much more done! They just come in, pick up the notebook, and get started.

    What else...? Oh, I often make copies of things I use every year when I'm making them for the current year. I can't do this with everything, because I'm just not the kind of teacher that can count on duplicating every lesson from year to year, but there are certain things I always use. I LOVE when I can open a folder for an upcoming lesson and find that all the copies I need are already there (a gift to myself from the year before). :)
     
  6. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Jan 16, 2011

    If I were a teacher, I'd like to have a George Costanza-like desk (i.e. bed built-in ;) for cat-naps. Shoot, I'd even contract someone like George did!
     
  7. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Jan 17, 2011

    At the beginning of the week on my to do list, I write Clean Desk and Answer Emails and I write MTWRF next to it. I make sure I do it every day. Setting the timer is a good idea.

    I don't take work home and I try to get out the door as close to the time I am allowed to leave (2:45) as possible. If I know it is a busy time, like I have essays turned in or it's the end of the marking period, I will pick on night where I will stay late and that is it. Otherwise, I just make sure I use every second of my planning time.

    I started walking during lunch and I eat at my desk during my plan. I am amazed at how much energy I have at the end of the day, but I really started doing it to get away from toxic co-workers at lunch. Maybe that's why I have so much energy.

    I accept late work from students, but I just started a new rule that I will only grade it twice a marking period - before progress reports and before the end. I tell students I plan ahead and set aside the time I plan to grade their assignments. If they can't get them in on time, it stands as a 0 in the gradebook until I get to it. If they don't like that idea, they don't have to turn it in at all.
     
  8. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 17, 2011

    I stopped keeping a paper gradebook, instead I enter everything right into the computer. Then, time, I save a copy of my grades to my computer. I've never needed it yet.

    I send all copying to be done by our copy staff. I always write the sheets in pencil so that I can just erase the date for things I use often.

    So, I will start a different math approach, where the students will grade all their homework. I will only grade a two question quiz and I grade these in class.

    I use writer's workshop so that I can conference with students during class time. This has tremendously cut down my essay grading time.
     
  9. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Jan 17, 2011

    I do my lesson plans on the computer now....for the most part. There are certain things that I ALWAYS do and have found it a waste of time and to repetitive to keep writing them down week after week so I make a "skeleton" of the items that I ALWAYS teach. THEN I fill in more specific assignments in pencil every week.
     
  10. thirdgradebuzz

    thirdgradebuzz Comrade

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    Jan 17, 2011

    The biggest time-saver for me was when I started a hanging file folder for each week of language arts instruction that has all the interactive notebook pages, skill sheets, ziploc bags with center activities, file folder games, spelling word lists for the week, homework, guided reading passages, tests, projects, etc. Anything that I do to teach a reading or grammar skill, I put a copy in the folder for that week. I add to it anytime I find something new that I like.
     
  11. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Jan 17, 2011

    File folder for each day. I have one for M-F in which I put transparencies and copies in them. I pull out the one for the current day and on Th and F I organize and stick all materials in the folders for next week.
     
  12. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Jan 17, 2011

    I love this topic! I sure could use some help here, too!
    I am a new K teacher and the other k teacher who has been at my school for a few years really is a godsend! She is amazing and always shares with me and we chat a lot and do impromptu lesson planning and sharing and all that. But the biggest thing is she has a parent volunteer come in and make copies weekly- and she makes sure her room helper makes enough copies for me too. So we have the same worksheets and whatnot that we do weekly and are trying to get our assessments lined up- that is a school-wide initiative. So it is pretty cool.

    Personally, I have folders for each day of the week and I keep the weekly folders together and at hand on my desk. Then I also have two of those paper sized three drawer things and I put the papers I need for each day of the following week or two in its own labeled drawer and the extra drawer is simply labeled extras/to be filed. When it is filled I file them away or just bring them home to file when I have a minute. So I try to have the papers I need copied for the current unit or for the month done all at once. Then I just quickly can file them away, but keep them close at hand and easily accessible. I always write up my plans on Wed mornings for the following week. There were times before I got this system up and going where I would be trapped under this massive pile of papers on every and all available surfaces, but this has helped- so long as I keep on top of it. Plus I throw away a ton of stuff- I pick up piles of junk in my mailbox- that I used to keep and it was just a bother, now I throw it away immediately. If necessary I make a note of it and put it in my lesson plan binder, otherwise it is just in the trash. I do not want to handle it more than once.
    If the kids have to hand in their work it goes in the red bin beside my desk- anything they touch that needs to be given to me goes in there. then I can take it at the end of the week or day or whenever.
     
  13. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Jan 17, 2011

    I am so afraid to do this. I keep a hard copy along with my computer gradebook because once, our school server crashed and I lost all of my grades. I had been backing them up on the server. How often do you print your grade book out? I would love to make my worklife easier!
    Also, I like your idea of grading math homework in class, and giving a 2 point quiz. How long does it take to grade the homework together? How often do you give a quiz? Right now I am grading selected homework as well as unit tests. I would like more variety, and less grading on my part! I teach 5th.
    I still have not tackled doing my lesson plans on the computer. I want to-but I am not even sure what programs are out there to use. I resolved to turn over a new leaf. I have started to pay half of my bills online. Yes, I am a little behind the times! But I am so proud that I made that jump!:)
     
  14. dizzykates

    dizzykates Habitué

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    Jan 17, 2011

    Great topic!

    I have 3 file folders for each day of the week and on Friday afternoon every week I sort my lessons into them. They are reading, writing and math folders because those are the main subject areas of my day, but if I had a separate science lesson a few times a week, I would add a folder for those days.

    I also have file folders for the upcoming weeks that I just pile in ideas and plans as they come. For example, I am not teaching 5 sense until February, but one of my team mates already sent through a bunch of the copies, so I labeled a folder for the second week of February and added all the copies to it. No more searching or moving piles!

    I have a binder that I put all my guided reading lessons and word work activities in so they'll be in order for next year.

    I keep a postit on my computer desktop and I try to write several things into it before I leave each day. Then when I get in the next morning and I am in a pre-coffee haze, I just look at it and follow along.

    I also have two lovely ladies who come in once a week and do just about anything I ask so I keep a running list for them.

    I feel like now, at 6 years into it, I am finally coming to a point where I am not stressed out and crazy all the time. Just listing the things I am doing, it amazes me to see it.
     
  15. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Jan 17, 2011

    What online gradebook program do you use?

    I like your ideas. Can you elaborate on the two question quiz approach and how it works? You don't do a chapter or unit test in math?
     
  16. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 17, 2011

    Look for cross curricular connections...writing in math or using math measurement skills in science...gets you more bang for your buck and allows you to meet multiple standards in one lesson.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 17, 2011

    I take advantage of summers, big time!!!

    That's when I do the bulk of my planning for the year.

    Today I did this week's lesson planning; it took about 15 minutes.

    I know the material, cold. My notes are in order and I have the homeworks already mapped out.
     
  18. Lynn K.

    Lynn K. Habitué

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    Jan 17, 2011

    I started doing this about four years ago, and I LOVE it. I print out one copy and have a year's worth copied at the beginning of the year. It's so quick and easy to fill in the blanks each week.
     
  19. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Jan 17, 2011

    I love the stopwatch idea for cleaning up your desk, I'm going to steal that. I started updating my class website daily while the kids wait for the busses in my room - haven't missed a day yet! :) (Last year was a different story entirely...)
     
  20. Lynn K.

    Lynn K. Habitué

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    As I write my lesson plans, I keep a list of things that need copied for the week. I send it all out at once, and file it in a small file box divided into days that sits near my desk. I teach the kids where that stuff is in case I am not at school or need a helper to hand stuff out.

    I work efficiently during my plan time, always have lunch with other teachers, and go home as close to allowed as I can. I seldom bring work home to grade.
     
  21. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jan 17, 2011

    I LOVE this idea!
     
  22. David Brown

    David Brown Rookie

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    Jan 18, 2011

    Routine is up the top, and organization. I avoid doing things that just don't need to be done and make sure I do things in bulk instead of small amounts at a time (eg. make one trip to the resource room to get 10 resources instead of making 10 trips to the resource room and each time getting one resources)

    Making a plane and sticking to it also helps stress and time, if I say I will do something at 5pm until 7pm on Tuesday, then I don't worry about it needing to be done because I have set a time to do it and I'm more efficient at it because I've set a time limit and stuck to it:thumb:
     
  23. kimberlyalice

    kimberlyalice Rookie

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    Jan 18, 2011

    These are great tips!!!!!! Love them!!!! Thanks for sharing; great post.
     
  24. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    I just try to stay on top of things at all times. I never leave a messy desk. I re-do my organization when necessary, which is often since I am a first year teacher and still trying to set up my systems. I figure the more I work at it this year the less I will have to do next year. Right? Please tell me it works that way.
     
  25. nasirahc83

    nasirahc83 Companion

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    Jan 18, 2011

    I love the ideas posted on here. Thanks thread opener. For me so I that I don't "hit a wall", I stay after school twice a week maybe three but I always designate Wednesday as the day to leave on time. I grade work and write lessons plans at school. My goal is to only lesson plan one subject at home but I always try to get all five in before friday. Also, on friday, which is late day for me is to make ALL my copies for the following week. However, I love the idea of having hanging folders for each day so I am definately borrowing that idea. But my key goal is to keep work at work and this makes my marriage and home life sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better.
     
  26. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Jan 18, 2011

    Get rid of required paperwork as soon as it hits your desk or mailbox. If I'm asked to provide a few sentences on how so and so is doing in the regular ed classroom, I'll have it done and out the door withing 10 minutes.
     
  27. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Jan 18, 2011

    I agree with shouldbeasleep... otherwise, it gets lost under my pile of papers. My principal was shocked when I came out with an ADHD assessment for a student half an hour after he had given it to me... "you didn't have to do it right away" he said...

    "yes, I definitely did!"
     

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