Friday, 12 August 2016

For many teachers, it feels like most days are a scramble to fit in as much learning as possible while meeting logistical and policy requirements before it's time to go home.

That's why we took an informal poll of teachers across the country, and learned their top time-saving tips.

Tapping into technology

Social media crowdsourcing has been a life-saver for Kimberly Moran, a Gifted Education teacher for K-5th graders in Hampden, Maine. "When you use the online world to customize what you need for professional development, you get the help you need when you need it," she says. "So if you are looking for a book about civil rights that will work with third graders, you tweet the request and within ten minutes, teachers will tell you what to use. It's the power of the collective."

She taps Google Docs, so the work is updated and immediately accessible. "When kids write, they share it with me and I can read it anywhere I am, and make comments and they get them instantly," she says. "It's like carrying your teacher with you."

Moran also favors what she calls "flipping the classroom,"which means assigning a video for kids to watch elsewhere so that when the kids arrive in class, the lecture has already been absorbed and the associated activity can occur.

All systems go

Moran says it's important to choose systems and stick with them—not only for yourself, but also for your students. "Whenever there are systems in place that are not changed, students and teachers function better," Moran says. "Time is saved."

Allie Magnuson, a kindergarten teacher in Nevada, is a master time-saver. Some of her tactics include:

  • During holiday times, she plans crafts that don't require prep from the teacher or student, allows an extra half hour so students can help clean the room, and buys a few gifts (such as games) that all the students can enjoy instead of individual gifts.
  • She  combines counting  and other exercises with snack time.
  • She taps the  school's office  when there's a huge volume of copying that needs to get done quickly, or when she needs supplies she might otherwise go out and buy.
  • She has a filing system so she has copies of everything she needs for students and parents in easily accessible binders.

Genia Connell, a Michigan third-grade teacher, keeps  encouraging phrases  ready to go for report time, and combines them, Chinese-menu style.

A New Jersey sixth-grade literacy teacher, Rhonda Stewart tries to keep her classroom and storage areas  organized  throughout the year so that the end-of-year cleanup and the beginning of next-year setup are a breeze.

Protecting your own time

Jess Burnquist, a high school English and creative writing teacher in San Tan Valley, Ariz., says that she grades one assignment per night. That way, her weekends aren't buried in paperwork and she can enjoy her off time.

Eva Foster, a teacher at Houston Community College, reminds teaching professionals that there are other help available to your students. "Remember, you are not the only resource for your students. Sometimes it makes more sense to send them to the tutor, the librarian, or the counselor. These professionals have expertise in areas you don't. Lean on that, and it serves both you and the student," she says.

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