Back to School Hack #4 - History Gal

Back to School Hack #4

Teaching can be overwhelming. If all teachers had to do was teach, it would be great. Instead, teachers also have to grade assignments, tests, and projects; maintain websites or blogs; answer emails and voice mails; go to department meetings, staff meetings, district meetings, parent meetings and professional development meetings; go to morning, lunch, and afternoon duties, and the list goes on and on. There just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything that needs to be done, done.

 Here are some tips that will help you keep your sanity this school year.

1. Set aside one or two days that you will stay 1-2 hours after school to get things done. On those days minimize distractions. Shut the door (turn off the light if that will help convince co-workers and students that you're actually gone), turn off or silence your phone, and unless a task requires you to get online, stay off the internet. It's time to get things done.

2. You don't actually have to grade every assignment. Really. Let students grade their own classwork, quizzes and even the matching/multiple choice/true-false parts of tests. Require graders to use pens or markers to grade so they can't change answers.

3. Use grading rubrics for projects and essays. Rubrics will help you grade faster.

4. Multi-task. When students are watching a video or working well on an assignment, take a few minutes to enter grades into the computer.

5. Make entering grades easier by having a colored folder for the graded papers that need to be entered for each class. When assignments are turned in, alphabetize them and place them in the folder- no more hunting for names as you enter the grades! You can make the alphabetizing easier on yourself by creating a seating chart that places the students in alphabetically order and having the students pass up the homework assignments through the rows. Another method is to assign each student a number that corresponds to their alphabetical order. Students are required to put their number along with their name on everything they turn in. Once the assignment is turned in, simply put them in numerical order!

6. Create templates for documents you use frequently so you don't have to reinvent the wheel each time.

7. Each afternoon, pull together everything you need for your classes the next day and place them together.

8. Set boundaries. You are not a doctor who is on call 24/7. Tell students and parents that you will check email (and voice mail) between the hours of 7 am-5 pm Monday-Friday (or what ever hours you pick) when school is in session and you will respond within 24 (or 48) hours. Stick to it.

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