Summer Blogging Series 5: 5 Ways to Make Next Year Better
Alright y’all: my Summer Blogging Series is wrapping up today! TIP NUMBER ONE for how to make next year better was to set your goals each month, but break them down into bite-size chunks. TIP NUMBER TWO was on using timers to knock out tasks more quickly, and stop procrastinating things. TIP NUMBER THREE was all about simple ways to prep for tomorrow, right now. And TIP NUMBER FOUR was about finding ways to rest during the school day.
And up today: Tip 5-the final tip for how to make next year the best it can be!
Teacher Productivity Tip #5: Batch Tasks
I use task-batching as my system for getting things done in lots and lots of aspects of my life, specifically in business. I have blog writing days, where I write as many blog posts as possible in one sitting. I have social media days to schedule out social media posts for weeks at a time. It goes on and on.
This past year I decided to batch tasks in teaching, because if it worked for all of those boss moms working from home, why couldn’t it work for me in my classroom? I’m here to tell you that it does work, friends. This is how it looked in my classroom, and I hope you can draw some inspiration for your weekly schedule!
Monday: Lesson Planning
It’s tough to get in a rhythm of lesson planning when you’re a newer teacher. But I promise that if you typically take hours to write lesson plans, it gets faster and easier with practice! When you’re really familiar with your content, you can crank several subjects out in one sitting. On Mondays, I sit down during my planning and sketch out the next 1-2 weeks of lessons, typing them roughly into a template on Google Drive. I will go back to fine-tune them late, if I have to. But I like to get standards plugged in, how I’m going to assess, and the gist of the activities/small groups I’m going to do. Some schools require more or less than this, but this is really all my principal ever needed, so I could crank them out pretty quickly!
Tuesday: Pull Copies
Now that my activities for the next week are planned, it’s easy to use my planning period to pull everything I want to get copied for the week. I have had workroom assistants some years, who run copies for you, but I’ve also worked in buildings that don’t have the budget for such a luxury, so I asked a parent volunteer to come one day a week. I know that’s also not a luxury that’s afforded to everyone, but I always recommend asking to see if you have anyone who is willing to run copies, cut laminating, etc. It saves you a lot of grief to just be responsible for printing and compiling the masters of things, and then passing it off to someone else. And, a lot of parents love having the opportunity to help!
For all of the activities I planned the week before, now the grading has piled up a bit. I teach 2nd grade, so not everything needs to have a letter grade on it (and honestly, when I taught 4th I felt the same way). I try to have the kids sort things for me into piles of the same assignment and paper clip them together as they get turned in, so I don’t spend 25 minutes of my precious planning time putting paper into piles. 🙄
I choose 1-2 things a week to grade. This does not include tests, which I either have the students grade with me and reflect on their scores in a data folder, or I grade as they are turned in. These are center assignments, whole group assignments, etc. Only 1-2 things! Everything else gets a smiley face or a sticker and gets sent home. Stamps that say “Completion Grade” are helpful to, so parents aren't confused about why their child got a smiley face for an assignment that has a few errors. :)
By Thursday, l am really looking ahead to the next week. This is my day to make sure that all copies I had gotten made are sorted into baskets. I pull read alouds that I want to use and toss them in those baskets. I prep anchor charts and posters. I’ve had the week to think through my lessons and how they are going to go, and I can get things all put together in a way that makes it easy for me to walk away for the weekend!
Friday: Scheduling Communication
If you don’t do a weekly newsletter or email, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you to please start. Fridays is typically when I would schedule newsletters with upcoming school events, test dates, standards we were learning, etc. This is a relatively brief task, and I liked to keep Friday light. First off, because I’m REAL tired by Friday. But also because sometimes meetings are scheduled during your planning time, and you can’t fit everything into a working lunch, so things get pushed back a day. If I didn’t get to this during the school week, I wasn’t bothered by sitting down to write a newsletter on Sunday evening. But that really was the max that I wanted to commit myself to over the weekend. You may be able to squeeze in some sort of weekly communication scheduling before school starts one day, too! Freeing up a day for yourself.
All of the other tips come in handy here. It’s so helpful to have a ‘theme’ assigned for the day, so that when you’re making your daily lists, setting your timers, etc. you have a clear focus on your week and know exactly what you want to get done. It seems like a bizarre amount of organization (and it probably is)…but y’all. I have not worked on the weekends (except by choice. and sometimes I get excited about a new assignment and WANT to hammer out some quiet time in my room) since year two of teaching. Coming up by choice is one thing. Coming up on the weekends because you are so scattered throughout the week that you didn’t get anything done is a completely different story. The hyper-organization is worth it!
As you move towards your school year next fall, you may need a planner that helps you map out which tasks you’re going to batch throughout the week. I have just the one for you! My Teacher To-Do List planner is now in my TPT store! This planner will keep you organized, well-planned, and on top of your goals for this year!
Soak up every second of your summer break, guys. Then bottle that happy teacher up and keep her alive all year long. ❤️
And that’s a wrap on the 5 Ways to Make Next Year Better Blogging Series. My next series rolls out THIS THURSDAY, because I’m a little off-schedule after a summer vacation! It comes with a shorter name and everything (Hahaha) so be sure you don’t miss out!