Staying on task, keeping motivated, and reaching goals are difficulties that every person deals with on a daily basis. As teachers, there are so many different tasks, deadlines, assignments, extracurricular activities, and things going on in your life that you may need reminding. Not to mention, you have a classroom full of students to factor into the mix. Just because the school day ends in the early afternoon, doesn’t mean your work day does. If you’re looking for suggestions on how to keep your productivity up so you can get outside sooner this spring, or make it through report card season in one piece, here is a listof suggestions and tips to keep your professional and personal lives organized and productive – practically!
We know – this is the oldest solution in the book. Where do those seemingly short twenty-four hours seem to go each and every day?! We might not have the secret to this age old question, but we have some ideas to make those hours feel like actual hours.
Prioritize: You may feel like you have a million things to do. Prioritize your to-do list with the focus on completing the tasks that have the closest deadline. Make sure to manage your time wisely. Complete small tasks every day to lower your workload and your stress. If you haven’t ever “ate your frog” first thing in the morning as part of your prioritization, you might find this useful.
Give homework: Don’t feel guilty about making your students use a little bit of time at home to keep learning, especially if there was energy abound in the classroom (not as conducive to productivity)!
Make SMART Goals: If you haven’t heard of them already, SMART goals are a fantastic way to make long or short-term goals and set ways of achieving them.
Specific – make sure the goal you are making is specific, not generalized. “I want to have some of my report cards done” is not as specific as “I want to have half of my report cards done.
Measurable – be able to measure your goals progress. Like the above report card example, you can measure how much left of your goal you have to complete by your progress.
Attainable – make sure your goal is something you can complete. Set steps and milestones that you can achieve to keep yourself motivated.
Realistic – just as with making your goal attainable, also make it realistic. If your goal is to have your whole class receive A’s in math, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment because realistically not every student is at this level. Instead, think of the percentage of students you’d like to reach this goal. Or set a target for each student to improve their grade by a certain amount relative to their current grade.
Timely – your goal should have a time frame. “I want to complete all report card comments by Saturday” is a great SMART Goal because it satisfies all the requirements.
Finding what works for you is something that will take a little trial and error, but as long as you know where you need to be (and when!) you’re farther ahead than most of us.
Keep a planner: Plot all of your events, projects, and assignments that are due in your planner to keep your work life organized. Work-life balance is always a bit tricky – add family events and milestones to your planner too! We love digital planners (we hear Planboard can be a handy dandy tool), but understand that a trusty pencil and paper are often irreplaceable.
Shift Your Schedule: Go in early to get everything ready for the day ahead. Or if you cherish your sleep on a Monday morning, stay late after your students leave to prepare for the following day. Coming into your class, coffee or tea in hand, with everything organized and ready to go, is a great stress reliever. Your students may think you make it look easy, but don’t worry, we know how much time you put into that seamless lesson plan!
Try Different Teaching Strategies and Techniques
By switching up your teaching routine, you’ll help keep your classroom lively, motivate yourself and students, and keep things fresh. If your students see you enjoying your lessons, they’ll enjoy them too.
Gamify: “Hook” your students into your class for the day by showing a fun and relevant video or having them play a game that teaches a skill they are going to need to know for your lesson. Gamification of lessons is all the rage!
Understand Your Audience: Know what kind of Multiple Intelligence your students have. At the beginning of the year, have your students take a Myers-Briggs test to see how they learn best. Are they Audio-Musical learners? Are they Visual-Spatial learners? Bodily-Kinaesthetic? While these are the three most common, don’t neglect your students who may have the Naturalist intelligence (nature smart), Interpersonal (people smart) or Intrapersonal intelligence (self-aware), and Logical-Mathematical intelligence. All students learn a little bit differently, and knowing this earlier on in the school year can help you customize your valuable classroom time with them
Pinterest: If you aren’t already using it, Pinterest is a fantastic tool to find classroom decorating ideas, fun ice-breaking activities and more!
Planboard: Bulky binders be gone! Plan all of your lessons online, tag standards directly to them, and access each lesson plan from your mobile devices. If you notoriously misplace slips of paper with your notes on them, you will find a lifesaver in this app.
Google: Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets allow you to collaborate with other teachers on those bigger, more complex projects. Are you co-teaching and are finding it difficult to sync up your schedules for a meetup? Work virtually on that presentation together and separately at the same time!
Bonus – these links can be embedded directly into your Planboard lesson plan for easy access during class.
If you often think, “I just don’t have time to get organized,” these tips should help make that task less daunting. Use technology at your disposal, including Chalk! Planboard makes your lesson planning and executing easier. Sign up with Chalk to link with other teachers around the world, upload your lessons for easy access, and to find more useful ways to maximize productivity so you can spend more time where it counts – with your students!
Written by: Claire Savoie
Edited by: Laura Jonson