Blog Hoppin' · conferences · data · · organizing · reading · Teacher Week

#TeacherWeek15: Sanity Savers

Hi, friends

So, I skipped yesterday’s classroom tour link up because I don’t have a classroom this year, and I never took enough pictures of my classroom to do a tour of an old classroom.  But I am back in business for today’s Sanity Savers conversation.

I think as teachers one thing that is INCREDIBLY important is working smarter, not harder.  I mean, teachers definitely work hard.  But it’s also important to work smart, or you’ll never get anything done.  So I’m going to share a few of my work smarter/stay organized strategies that helped me stay organized and calm when I was teaching.

Number those nuggets.
Every year, I numbered my kids.  Generally, our list followed ABC order, but invariably we’d gain and lose some kids throughout the school year so it wasn’t always 100% true, but close.  Here are reasons why numbering kids is a sanity saver.
1.  It allowed me to reuse materials when students came and left class, so I could get more bang for my buck.  Students could use the same folders, pencils, scissors, and crayons as the student who just left.
2.  It eliminated line up issues.  Students always lined up numerically, so there was no arguments about who was busting, or how someone cut in front of someone else.  (Line leader was a job in my class; that person would just line up in front of number one for that day.)
3.  It gave students a certain sense of anonymity.  While students did know each other’s number as the school year went on, it let me organize data, conference notes, and assessments in binders by number and they didn’t necessarily know whose it was.

Use pictures whenever possible.
Now, I realize that this is mainly an early elementary tip, but using graphics in my classroom was key.  Especially early in the year, and especially with my lowest nuggets.  For example, our work station rotation board always had pictures as well as group names and pictures as well as the written name of the work station.

This was part of our fall work station board.  Each group is clearly named, but also has an icon/graphic to go with it so that if you can’t read the word pumpkin you still know your group.  
And here’s just a quick example of rotation cards.  Station name underneath, with a picture on top.  
Organize your student data.
Okay, so I realize this is a terrible tip because obviously you want to stay organized.  I don’t have pictures to go with this, but I am planning a Periscope in the next few days about this same topic.  (You can follow me at Whale_Tails_DC.)  I’m going to give you the highlights of how I organized student data.  First, and most crucial, was a grid that I created and printed weekly.  In the header, it had the week (Week of August 31) and then below was a grid.  It would have each of my students’ name in a square, and beneath their name it would say “math, reading, writing”.  When I conferred with that student, I would highlight the subject so that as the week went on I could see at a glance who I had met with and who I had not.  When I met with students, I would quickly jot notes on address labels.  Address labels come in lots of sizes, but I have big handwriting so I always liked to get the biggest address labels, but you can get them in any size.  I would just jot their number or initials, the date, and the subject (which I usually abbreviated–M, R, W) and then at the end of the day I would stick their label on their page in the binder for that subject.  I realize that pictures would be really helpful to this; hopefully, it will make a little more sense after you see the ‘Scope, but I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about this method.  
Thanks for sticking with me to the end!  Those are my top 3 Sanity Savers.  And don’t forget to check out Blog Hoppin’ to catch other teachers’ brilliant ideas.  You’re almost to the weekend, teachers!  You can do it!

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