Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to remember why we’re all at home blogging today: Veterans’ Day. If you know someone who’s an active in the military or retired, or a family who has someone serving thank them. I don’t want to get too political here, but we have a lot of great freedoms in this country that not everyone in the world has and our military defends those rights and protects us.
And now I’m excited to participate in Blog Hoppin’s linky for this week. It’s a cute little play on Thankful.
See, I told you. Cute, right? I’m going to give you my top three time savers.
Whether you use an egg timer, the timer on your cellphone, or some other secret timer option I feel like timers save my behind multiple times a day. Timers help me make sure I’m not keeping my little nuggets on the carpet too long (yes, I set them for myself when I call my kids to the carpet), and they make sure I’m not spending too much time on an activity. One of the first things I teach my kids on the first day of school is what they should do when they hear a time in our classroom. (And in case you’re curious, it’s put down whatever might be in your hands, zip your lips, touch your shoulders, and look at your teacher. It sounds like a lot, but we practice. It takes about 5 seconds now.) I even set timers for Brain Breaks and transitions, starting Morning Meeting, and when we go out to recess. I have been known to get so into Fundations that I forget about recess.
Keep your eyes on the prize!
This sounds weird, right?! But stick with me here. This is something we’ve done in my grade level band that has REALLY helped us in meetings. As teachers, it’s easy for us to become distracted by details, minutiae, and what ifs. We start talking about these things during a meeting, and then suddenly our meeting is over, and we haven’t resolved the issue that brought us to the table. (Please tell me that’s not just our school?!) We’ve used 2 solutions that have been helpful for us making meetings the most useful they can be. First, we’ve been very strict about using a Parking Lot for questions that aren’t 100% connected to what we’re discussing at the moment. Even if there isn’t a physical parking lot we’ll write the question down, or email the person who has the answer to said question or could help us find the answer. It’s really helped us stay on track and be more focused in meetings. Another thing we’ve done, and I’m going to be honest–I really wasn’t on board with this at first because it felt so artificial to me, but we use protocols to discuss student work. It helps save time because there are specific steps with times attached. So rather than just discussing student’s work, you get 5 minutes to talk about the assignment and what the student produced, other teachers have 5 minutes to ask you questions about the work, you work together to pull out this student’s “glows”, or things they did well, and then you take 5 minutes to discuss what this kid needs to move forward.
Make your students do as much as they can.
Say, what?! Before you think that sounds completely obvious, stick with me. Here’s what I mean: rather than always collect the papers and pass them out yourself, make that children’s jobs. Instead of cleaning up the scraps of paper after you were cutting and gluing make a kid do it. Now I hear what you’re saying–it takes them so long, it’s actually wasting time, I’m too uptight for that. (No, you’re not saying that?! It was just me??) I was with you. I thought there was no way I could release that much responsibility to my kids. Now, when we clean up, my kids get 1 minute (2 if we really made a mess), and the kids who have jobs perform them and the kids who don’t have jobs take a brain break. When the timer goes off we’re ready to move on and everyone has had the opportunity to move around. It’s a win-win-win.
Don’t forget to thank a veteran or active military member today. =)