When the new year started, I wanted to set some goals in my teaching life. Like many others, there is a fuzzy line between my teaching job and my personal life. You know...when you're out shopping and you see a hat in the shape of a flower and you HAVE to buy it because it would go great when you teach plants in Science? And you know the look your significant other gives you when it happens? Like they want to roll their eyes, but they don't want to hear the wrath of the teacher lecture as to why you MUST have that hat?!?! THAT FUZZY LINE.
Well, my teaching job has consumed so many hours of my personal life that I had to do something about it. Even if it was just something small.
So my first New Year's resolution was this:
*Never bring schoolwork home, even if it means I have to work late at school many nights of the week.
(I hear your laughter.)
It was a good shot that first week. I stayed until 4:30 at least, with some nights reaching 5:30-6:00. One night I was reminded (about 5 times) that closing time was fast approaching.
I had to modify my resolution to:
*Never carry work home AND make sure next week is completely ready to go by Friday of the week before.
This resolution is working. And.I.love.it!
Here is how I do it.
1. I do my lesson plans at home. Luckily, I have a copy of each book I use at home, so that makes it easy. I do my lesson plans on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. I submit them to my principal on Thursday evening via email.
2. On Friday after school I write all the homework for the next week on my homework board. Then, I write my objectives on the board for Monday. I clean up my teacher table area and make copies of any homework worksheets that are needed for the upcoming week. All books I need for Monday's lessons are in an easy to find area, and then I straighten anything else up. Often I have to clean my white board to make it look nice and clean after a week of erasing cheap dry erase markers.
3. Throughout the week I make sure I grade at least one class set of papers daily. Sometimes I try to squeeze in two sets. Before I leave each day, I make sure that all areas of the room are clean and papers are filed or put away properly. I make any copies that I need for the following day, and update any objectives that need to be written on the board.
Happy weekends to me!
Here are some things I do to make grading items a little easier on myself:
1. When grading something in a workbook that I collect, I have my students open to the page I want graded. They write their name at the top of that page, and this saves me a lot of time.
2. I teach three classes of middle school Literacy, so papers are a given. I have a basket for each class that is 4 or 5 inches deep and clearly marked with their homeroom number. If papers are collected, they go in the basket. If I collect papers, they go in the basket. If I have to sort papers from my table, I paperclip them and they GO IN THE BASKET. This prevents me from misplacing any papers that need to be graded. At the end of the day, I pull out loose papers and put like items together. This takes about three minutes. I paperclip them together and place them back in the basket. This makes it super easy when it comes time for grading because I can just grab a pack and take them to my table.
3. Since my gradebook is online, I do not need to tote around a binder with grades. Instead I use a photocopy of their attendance sheet (I got this from the office). As I grade an assignment, I write the grade next to each student's name, then I write the name and date of the assignment on the sheet. I place the graded assignments in a student file or UNDER the basket if it needs to be handed back to the students. The grading sheet gets clipped to my "teacher clipboard" that houses a number of things that I'm currently using (examples: today's printed lesson plan, behavior management spreadsheet, parent notes needing attention, etc.). I find time about three times per week to log on to the online gradebook and I enter all the grades from those grading sheets at that time. Then, I write a little note at the bottom saying "grades entered" so I know that I've gotten those grades into the system. I store completed grading sheets in an accordion file by classroom.
Oh My...it's still the weekend and I'm talking about school. Until the weekdays...