Work Smarter, Not Harder

With a new school year approaching, I wanted to share how I like to “work smarter” and not harder. I will say, one of the best skill sets I have is TASKING! Even when I worked in retail, my manager would always brag about how quickly and efficiently I could complete daunting tasks.

If you hear anything I’m about to say HEAR THIS: Utilize and exhaust ALL of your minutes at school so when it’s time to leave you can feel good about being prepared and enjoy your personal time outside of the classroom. I’ll get into more of this later

On to effective and smart tasking 101. I’m no pro or veteran, but I will share what has worked well for me in hopes that it could provide you with some insightful help, too.

Prepping is a giant task, don’t think you need to get it all checked off at once because you will tire easily and lose momentum, I promise! (A-type person here)

MY Getting Ahead Do’s:
1. I always print my center activities a month in advance. JUST PRINTING! IF I’m feeling up to it maybe two months. After printing, I clip them with paperclips and put into a manila folder with the month labeled on the cover. It may not seem like it, but you’re already ahead of the curve.

2. As the month approaches, I pull the folder I need and cut, laminate, and bag the pieces (Walmart baggies) I need for ONLY the FOLLOWING week. I only do this for what I’m using the next week, and I only do this at school during my planning period by scheduled days.
If you try and do too much at a time, you will start to get behind.

My bagged items live in one of those plastic Sterilite containers. (I bought 10 of them at Family Dollar to have for the entire school year.) I slap a label on it and by the end of the month it’s filled with everything I’ll need for the following school year. It’s organized in cheap Great Value twist tie baggies from Walmart. My pieces are cut and organized by activity.

My Planning/Prepping Schedule: (Roughly 35 mins)

Monday: Type lesson plans for the next week, pull student copies for the next week, and decide on which centers I want to use next week. (THAT IS IT)

Tuesday: It’s shared planning, so I will not be in my classroom working.

Wednesday: I pull my folder out, take out my resources that I’m using the next week and start to laminate them. Once I’ve laminated, I’ll bag them and put in my Sterilite container. (Notice: I’m not cutting anything) I also type up my class newsletter on Wednesday and submit for approval for the next Monday.

Thursday: I organize my copies for the next week and place in my M-F buckets. I start any anchor charts, and pull books for the next week. I allow my Thursday to be very flexible in case of conferences or last minute meetings. (Can also work as a FLEX day)

Friday: I cut apart my center activities and set up my centers for the next week. Enter intervention/data notes into the computer

I’m not going to lie, I’m very A-type, and I would always feel like I needed to get EVERYTHING done in one day and that’s just not realistic in teaching or fair to yourself accept it! Someone once told me, if you’re ready for the next day you’re prepared! This routine has really helped settle my anxieties about that feeling of being “prepared” in teaching, it’s hard to feel prepared sometimes because of all the little things that take place or come up, but I promise, I leave when I’m allowed to and feel great that I’ve set myself and students up for success!

On the topic of leaving “early” I’m not a fan of this saying for many reasons! At my campus, my contract time ends at 3:45pm For me, I don’t consider this “early” because I’ve stretched every minute of my time during my planning period/lunch getting stuff done for the following week. I didn’t just sit around and chat. Because of my routine schedule, I know that I’m ahead of the game for a whole week! So, I leave between 3:45 and 4pm and do not feel guilty one bit. Please do not let other people make you feel guilty for using your personal time for whatever makes your heart sing! It’s healthy to finish your work and be able to leave to get that self-care time in your students will thank you for it! Now if there is a NEED to stay later, I sure don’t mind helping out or meeting with a parent. But, if I’m all done and caught up I’m not going to waste minutes just to stay in my room just because that “seems” like the best thing to do because it’s what other people are doing.

To each, their own! As long as your prepped and ready to go for the next day, Go on, Do you, Boo! After all, you know your hustle the best!

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