Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Work Smarter: Tip #2

I can't believe the 2nd week of school is almost over! This week, my own children started school so life has gone from crazy to absolutely nuts! I was never one to sugarcoat anything....teaching full-time and parenting is not for the faint of heart. As things are getting more stressful at work, life at home is no picnic either (get 3 boys out the door on time in the morning, come home, eat-thank God my husband cooks, run to football practice, home, baths/showers, bedtime for kids, about 3 minutes for my husband and me, schoolwork and off to bed). This is usually the time of year I begin to feel overwhelmed. But, this year, I made a promise to myself to be a healthier teacher/person (as discussed in previous posts).

Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely LOVE "The Sisters". They are so REAL, and they have such great, effective (simple) ideas for transforming your literacy block (and your students). Their work involves a lot of goal setting and checking-in with students. This is really a great way to set personal goals too. So, I'm using their style of goal setting/checking-in with my own personal goals. Let's see how I'm doing...

1. Meditate at least 3 times per week: I am doing well with this goal. There are some great mindfulness apps with guided meditations. I am up to about 5 minutes. During the meditations, I still need to refocus my thoughts A LOT, but I do find myself more mindful of my breathing and overall emotional state throughout the day. When I feel that cramped up feeling in my stomach, I remember to stop and go with it (instead of fighting it) then refocus my breathing. This has been very helpful.

2. Exercise 4-5 times per week: I'm doing well with this as well. Even though I'd like to exercise for a solid hour each of those days, I've come to accept that the 25 minute jog or walk I do is better than the 6 mile run I never do.

3. Be a more active listener: I am doing better, but I've caught myself cutting people off a few times since last week. At least I am more aware. I do have a problem though, when people talk way too much, and I just can't get a word in. It's usually when I interrupt.

Goals will remain the same until I've met one (or more) at least 3 times, consecutively (just like "the Sisters" would do with readers).

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Tip #2:
In an effort to be a healthier teacher, it is very important to be an effective teacher without spending SO much time on meaningless tasks. Here is one tip that has been a lifesaver:

Here are my personal reasons why I do not suggest the use of morning worksheets (a.k.a. busywork until all students arrive):
1. Your students who arrive late never get a chance to do it.
2. Most likely, you will be greeting students or helping students with a skill they need practice with, therefore you will not be available to explain the worksheet/give assistance with it.
3. You will have to make sure you have a worksheet EVERY morning (what a copying nightmare)!
4. They will have to be corrected. Who wants to do that on top of everything else you have to do?
5. They waste paper.
6. They are probably not differentiated.

Try these differentiated, no teacher correcting required ideas for morning work:
1. Have your students "shop" for new books (from the class library) for their reading boxes or bags.
2. Students can independently read from their book boxes/bags.
3. Students can read with a buddy.
4. Math games: set out some previously learned math games for students to play.

When I taught 1st grade, I had my students do #s1-3 everyday. It made life so much easier, and it was a great transition to the new school day. It also allowed me to address any student needs, greet students, monitor students' book selections and even hold a reading conference with 1-2 students (lessening the amount I had to do later in the day).

What do you do for morning work? What are your personal goals to become a healthier teacher?