Prioritizing Your Teaching Life (Part 5) – Logistics

Article by Christy Vacchio

In the well known book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey has dedicated Habit #3 to “Personal Management.” In essence, everyone will have activities that will fall into one of 4 categories. While most people tend to work under that category of putting out the fires, it is often more productive to work on the activities that are important but not urgent.

All Those Other Things You Have To Do Besides Teach

Think about all of the “other things” you have to do besides teach. In the elementary school, it might be things like collecting field trip money, taking attendance, attending staff meetings, volunteering at the fall carnival or bake sale. In the upper grades, you might have bathroom supervision, bus duty, commencement exercises, or sports events. While these duties will vary from district to district and even from school to school, every teacher has these non-teaching duties and you will not be excused from them. However, you can prioritize these activities and they don’t have to take over your life or interfere with your classroom instruction.

Find Tasks That Can Do Double Duty

Taking attendance can be done in so many ways, but rather than taking up your time, how about having students pick up their notebook as they come in or placing their names into a lunch choice. You now have automatic attendance (and just have to enter into the computer) and students have completed two tasks in one.

If you are on cafeteria duty, why not use that time to build relationships with the students. Get to know them outside of the classroom by asking them about their outside activities (How did your last game go? How is your new puppy?) instead of gossipping with your colleagues. On bus duty, why not take the time to build relationships with the parents. Mention how well behaved the students are as they get out of the car. If the student(s) are one of your current students, mentioning something positive to the parent quickly will go a long way toward building that relationship that is so necessary before addressing an area of concern.

Just Say No

Sometimes you just have to say no to activities and tasks that are not required. While you may want to serve on multiple committees because you feel guilty if you don’t, there is a limit to how much you can do and you don’t want to get burned out on volunteering. It is not necessary for you to bake cupcakes every month for everyone’s birthday. Just because there are multiple lines on the volunteer lists for the year, doesn’t mean you have to sign up for every single activity. Check with your principal and your contract to determine what is required. Then compare that with your other family or personal activities and schedule them accordingly. Also, leave yourself some margin. Creating margin in your day can ultimately allow you some breathing room and help you to not feel so rushed and frazzled on a daily basis.

Prioritizing Your Teaching Life (Part 3) – Assessments

Article by Christy Vacchio

We all have to do them. Assessments are just a part of life when you are a teacher. But they don’t have to be a thing of dread. Assessment can and should be built into every lesson as a way of determining student mastery. So how do you do so much assessment without actually gluing yourself to the couch all weekend and missing out on your family’s life? (When did my 2 year old turn 8?!)
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Prioritizing Your Teaching Life (Part 2) – Lesson Planning

Article by Christy Vacchio

You want to go on a vacation during the summer to see you best friend in Colorado. What do you do first? You call her to coordinate a date (you don’t want to get there and find she went home to Minnesota to visit her mom!). Next, you map from your home to hers to see how many miles it is. You will probably have to decide if it is worth the money to fly or worth the time to drive. Then you plan which activities you want to do while you are there and budget your money and time to save before you go.
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Prioritizing Your Teaching Life (Part 1)

Article by Christy Vacchio

Misconceptions in the public abound when it comes to the life of a teacher. Things like having summers off, 2 weeks at Christmas, Spring Break, and working a 7 ½ hour day are part of most public education contracts. However, as most teachers know, that is not the reality. As teachers, we did not go into education for the pay. We entered into this prestigious field for the love of children. And to love them, we will give them all we are in order to see them be successful.

But does it have to be that way?
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Backwards Design

Article by Chris Anderson and Christy Vacchio

The goal of education is to prepare students for their adult lives. Getting there takes many years of building skills, learning how to apply those skills in real-world situations, learning how to work in teams, and building social networks. However developing those skills in the students in your classroom is challenging. Master teachers must plan with the end goal in mind. So how do we get there?
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