Tuesday, December 04, 2012

How Do You Do It All?

How do you do it all? A local professor posed that question to me recently as his student teachers were asking him for advice on how to get it all done as a classroom teacher.

I told him I'd list some of the actions that help me, and please feel free to comment and add additional strategies that help you.

Stay Healthy
  • Make time from the start for physical exercise and health. (I'm still working on this one and know that good routines from the start make a big difference.)
  • Get enough rest and eat well.
  • Wash your hands often during the day.
  • Establish healthy routines in the classroom including recess, washing hands, and healthy food choices.
Be Prepared (Leave room for error and the unexpected)
  • Stay about a week ahead with respect to plans and preparation.
  • Keep the learning team informed of what you've done, are currently doing and will do in the future.
  • Spend the time upfront at the start of the year to prepare the classroom carefully.  Ruth Charney's Book, Teaching Children to Care will set the stage well for that preparation.
  • Have a basket of extra lessons and books that can fill a hole in the schedule when needed.
  • Always prepare for one or two extra students. That will take care of students who lose their work and new students who arrive during the year.
  • Respond to emails and requests right away rather than let that pile up.
  • Create files and save systems on your computer so that you can easily pull up important documents and lessons for revision and enrichment in the future. 
Positive Routine
  • Establish a positive weekly pattern that includes all the required elements and expectations of your work.  
  • Possibly include one day a week with extra time for "catch-up." One night a week I work late and my husband comes home early to facilitate family needs.  That gives me the time to catch up with the weekly work.
  • Put aside time in that weekly schedule for teacher or parent meetings, and when people ask for your time, you can offer the time you've put aside and still maintain the time you've scheduled for yourself, your family and your interests.
  • Simplify your expectations--you can't do or be all things so you'll have to prioritize what is most important to you, and make time for that. 
  • Include a weekly routine of professional development whether it is attending a course, reading an article or participating in a webinar.  That will keep you fresh, up-to-date and interested.
  • Join colleagues at school to collaborate on efforts related to student learning.
  • Establish a PLN (professional learning community) online and off. Your PLN will offer you ready advice and quick response.  I suggest one begin by joining Twitter and following #edchat. Then "friend" other like-minded teachers to start your online PLN journey. 
Interests, Friends and Families
  • Make time for interests outside of your school life.  Even if it is a couple of times a month, continue to build and enjoy an interest you enjoy.
  • Make time for friends and family--they're the support network you'll need as you embark on your career as an educator. 
Every educator creates a personalized pattern for their professional work and effort.  So while you take note of others' efforts, more importantly spend time creating the pattern and response that best supports your strength and skill as a teacher.