My summer has begun! That's why I'm sitting here making a plan and setting goals for back-to-school prep and planning.
I can just hear you... "Planning for Back-to-School? Lisa, wait. We're just heading into June! Goals for back-to-school? I just got done with this year! What are you talking about? I'm going to soak up some rays and chill. I got it covered. No plan needed. Right?"
YES! I'm all for a break - 100%. Actually, I insist that the teachers I work with commit to taking a long break over the summer. But at some point, prep for back-to-school has to begin. Start your summer with a quick plan for Back-to-School, so you can relax. Knowing where you are going to begin at the end of the summer will help make you less stressed and be super productive later.
You'll be the together teacher come fall if you do a plan now for what needs to get done at the end of your summer. Plus, you'll be able to relax, put school out of your mind for...
One of the hardest things to get done within the bounds of a busy school week is lesson planning. We all know it is so essential to have well-planned lessons. But, making time for all of this can sometimes seem overwhelming.
Do you wind up planning late on Friday or over your weekends? Been there. There is a better way!
Decide. What kind of planner are you? All at once or manageable chunks?
Schedule it. Block out time on your calendar for planning time.
Break your planning up by subject.
Plan one subject each day or plan the whole week in one sitting.
Schedule time on Friday to gather supplies for the next week.
Guard your time. Shut your door and post a sign- Do not Disturb... planning in progress.
Think. How do I get the most done? What will I stick with? Do I get in a zone and just go get it done? Or am I a do a bit each day and on a regular basis person? Find...
This week I have been so exhausted [already], and I couldn't figure out why. I went to bed last night wondering what I was doing wrong. Then, it dawned on me. I was trying to do way too many things and accomplishing very little. Do you ever do that or is it just me?
When I get overwhelmed with how much I have to get done, it's usually because I have lost my focused approach. If we are honest with ourselves, multi-tasking is a myth. I once heard it called switch tasking, an appropriate name. That what I was doing the last few days, switch tasking. I hadn't taken the time to lay out all of my "to dos" and make conscious decisions about each task or project. Instead I was trying to do a bit of everything. What was I thinking?!
There are lots of ways we can get focused. Here's mine. I set a timer for 5 minutes and list everything I need to do, no matter how small it is. Then, I highlight the items that are...
When I first started teaching, I worked at a school where staying late was not an option. It simply wasn't safe. So, I used to lug home a bag or grading and planning every night. Most of the time I got to all of it and then rolled not bed. I wasn't married, had no kids and so my time was my own. Fast forward a few years.. add in a husband and a couple of kids and rarely did I complete all that I dragged home. Sound familiar?
Here's the gig. Teaching is exhausting- emotionally and physically. We have to take care of ourselves too. I see teacher parents grading at their kids baseball games, posting about how late they stayed up to finish everything, etc. Our families and our health are much too important for us to continue in that vein.
Get your calendar and schedule regular grading time.
Add in extra grading time to your schedule as soon as you assign a project.
Starting off our day feeling together and ending on the right foot makes all the difference in getting and staying organized.
As teachers, we often live and work at 100 mph. By the end of our school day, we are left feeling worn to the bone. It's so easy to just pack up a few things and head home. However, leaving items to be put away in the morning or prep for tomorrow undone until that morning is like leaving the dinner dishes in the sink over night. It sets us up for a hurried morning where we start out feeling behind.
Take 30 minutes to tidy up, decompress and get set for tomorrow. Create a checklist of items you want to take care of each day for your shutdown routine. Then, create a morning routine to get you going. It will change your whole perspective and set you up for success each day.
Check mailbox. Quick hellos. Hydrate, pray, organize all the materials I will need for...
Remember when "You've got mail" was a good thing?! Not so much anymore.
Is your inbox stressing your out? Are you drowning in emails? Before getting your classroom ready, get your inbox under control.
Decide how you plan to keep tabs on them- when and how often. Consolidate what you can and get rid of any extra email addresses you don't really use anymore.
Choose a set amount of time to deal with the backlog every day until your inbox is to 0. What?! Zero? That's not possible, right?! Wrong. Totally possible and do-able.
Check your email a couple times a day. That means quickly flip through it and deal with anything that is URGENT. Leave the rest.
This is when you will do something with every NEW email for that day- read, file, respond, delete, something to get it taken...
As I was getting my planning done for 2018, I took the time to create a theme for the year. This is something new for me. But, I thought I'd give it a go.
It's so easy to let life and work get complicated. The teachers I am working with right now are all asking for ways to simplify and create calm but still have high impact teaching. Music to my ears!
Here's a good place to start. Get rid of the clutter.
Physical clutter often becomes brain clutter. What do I mean? Well, our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. Yes, multi-taking is total bunk. I've heard it called switch-tasking, a much more accurate term. When we live and work in cluttered spaces, our brains are less efficient because they are distracted (in varying degrees) by all the stuff. Staying focused and concentrating in cluttered spaces is difficult for our brains. The seconds and minutes that are lost as our brains focus, switch...
No matter our personality type, we all have habits and rituals even if we don't know it. If we are intentional in creating our habits and rituals, then we are in charge of our time. But... more often than not, we develop default habits that steal our time and contribute to our overwhelm.
Overwhelmed? Yeah, I get it. I've been there. Here's the deal. As you head into Christmas break, you have time to start fresh with intentional habits and rituals. Take charge of your day. Use these 2 habits of ultra productive people - Morning and Evening Rituals.
Create morning and evening rituals or habits. A morning ritual will get you moving and ready on time in the morning without stress. An evening ritual will get you to bed on time so you wake refreshed and ready. These two small changes will change your life, I promise!
Raise your hand if you stress out over school at the end of your Christmas Break. We all know it's coming- the January Back-to-School craziness. Let's prepare for it now, so you can enjoy a true break. That's crazy talk, right?! No, it's your new normal.
After the break, things start to really move fast in school. We have standardized testing, Valentine's Day, Black History Month, the general retraining of our students and ourselves and much more. Let's face it. As lovely and necessary as it is to have a break, it's a lot of work to get back in the swing of things. In fact, it's nuts!
Lessons planned (~ 2 hours)
Copies made (30 minutes or less)
Extra items for activities, demonstrations or experiments purchased or gathered (~ 1 hour)
Lesson Materials organized and ready to go (last day ~ 20 minutes)
Assessment Materials: Create, adjust...
I got so tired of survival mode, so I chose a new way to be. I call it Thriving Mode. It's all about investing in systems to make your life run smoothly. Can you say auto pilot? There are many things we do that need to become habits so we can put them on auto pilot. Why do we train our students, but don't train ourselves? It's time to lead by example.
So, the first question is... What can go on auto pilot, and what can't? I'm so glad you asked!
Just do it, I told myself. I trained myself in the new habit of getting to school 1 hour early. I say HABIT intentionally. A habit is automatic, no thinking required. This became my best work time- uninterrupted, focused planning time.
I train students in the art of the 2 Minute Tidy. At the end of the school day, I leave 2 minutes to clean up. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Then, everyone works as fast as they can to clean up everything...