Strategies to Work Smarter, Not Harder In the Classroom

We just finished up April break here in New Hampshire and we are entering the final stretch. As my kiddos would say- dun, dun, duuuuuun!

Looking at the calendar is frightening. There’s so little time left and so much to do. At this point in the year, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the chaos of it all. That being said, I’m coming back to some tried and true strategies that I find help me work smarter, not harder, in the classroom.

Grade Every Fifth

I remember hearing this suggestion in college. I think it works a little different for everyone, depending on your grade or subject or school policy. However, the fact of the matter is this: do not grade everything your students complete. Do not spend all your time correcting assignments. I like the “grade every fifth” rule because it reminds me that sometimes I can get a full picture from just a few snapshots. Do I look over student work to see what they’re understanding and what’s been lost? Absolutely. I do not, however, hand them back a paper with a grade every single time. I find I can be much more informed just by circulating and observing during lessons.

Work With Your Team

My team has been hands-down-amazing this year and we will all be leaning on each other in the months ahead. We’ve created a “team doc” shared through Google Classroom where we input links, lessons, notes, reminders, etc. We’ve also elected to share resources, daily slides, and work loads. Because I used to teach science, most weeks, I’ll tackle our science lessons. It’s not always the case and if I finish early or need help, we may shift. However, working as a team saves us an incredible amount of time and energy.

Give Students Ownership

Giving students ownership can be both exciting for them and beneficial for you. This can be as easy as asking them what they want to learn about or how they want to learn it. If there’s one thing our students have had to give up time and time again this past year, it’s their autonomy. Letting students lead the lesson, discussion, activity, etc. is crucial for an engaged classroom community. Not only will this make them happier- it will make your life so much easier.

Include Times For Rest In Your Schedule

This is something new I’m trying and loving. Need a minute to sit in the dark with your eyes closed? Chances are, your students do to! Meditation, breathing, and rest are critical to include in your schedule. Add them to your SEL time or break up transitions with a few quiet moments. Your kiddos might not be on board at first but slowly (trust me on this one) they’ll come around. We all need a little extra peace in our day and your students will recognize that.

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