By Teachers, For Teachers
How would you feel if you could use classroom management to leave work knowing that everything is done and when you get home you can have time for yourself and your family? Sounds pretty great, right? When you’re a teacher, it’s hard to shut your mind off from teaching even when you’re home with your family. In your mind, it’s like you have 20 tabs (websites) open on your computer at all times. It’s hard not to think of all of the classroom management stuff that needs to be done. That’s why when something comes up for school (even when we’re at home), you dive right in without a second thought. No wonder there are so many teachers that are left feeling burned out. The thing is, you can leave your schoolwork at work and still be OK. Your students will be OK and you will be able to still get things done. Here are five simple classroom management methods you can use to stop taking your work home.
If you have the mindset that the only way things will get done is if you take your work home with you, then you must change the way you think right now. Just like you teach your students to set goals for themselves, you must also set the goal of not taking any work home with you. As you know, habits are hard to break, so it may take you some time. But just like they say if you stick to it (21 days is recommended), then it will become a habit. Think of a motivator to move your goal along. Do you crave more alone time instead of doing work, or is it spending time with your family that you want? Whatever it is that motivates you, let that be your driving force.
You won’t be able to accomplish your goal without planning ahead. Set a day and time where you plan everything out for the week ahead. I recommended choosing one day to stay after school for about an hour to accomplish this goal. Just make sure that this is not on a Friday, because by the end of the week you’re not going to have the energy to plan ahead -- you’ll just want to run to your car and get home to your family. Once you choose your weekday, then make sure that you are organized and know exactly what you want to accomplish on that day each week. Use a planner or download an app to make it easy on yourself. Planboard and Nearpod are both at the top of the list for the best apps to help an organized teacher.
No one ever said that you have to reinvent the wheel. It’s OK to reuse, borrow, or even purchase lesson plans. Just because you browse Pinterest and see all of the amazing lesson plans from these amazingly creative teachers, doesn’t mean that you have to be one of them. Let them do the work, and you just benefit from it. They are doing it to help people like you. Let the teachers without families that have a lot of time on their hands be the creative ones, while you focus on just getting your students to understand the lesson.
The actual amount of time that your students are learning should be your main concern. Don’t sweat the small stuff and think about busy work. Use your planning time to figure out the important lessons and concepts the students need to learn. There is no need to focus your energy on fillers and transition time between classes. All you need to do to fill this time is to create a checklist on the board that students need to follow for these moments. Once you do this, then you will free up a lot of your planning time to focus on the important things.
Everything that you do doesn’t need a grade. Your students don’t need to know that, but it’s true. Just randomly choose what you want to grade and tell the students that everything has the potential to be graded, but they will never know what makes the cut. This way, they still have to put forth the effort, but you don’t have to be tied down to grade every single thing they do. You can also enlist your students’ help by having them peer edit. This is a quick way to lighten your load while giving students the opportunity to play teacher.
Ultimately, you’ll know how much you can handle and what makes you feel burned out. Remember, your goal is to leave your schoolwork at work, not bring it home. So if you find that you’re still bringing your workload home with you, be sure that you are implementing all of the above tips into your life.
What are your classroom management tips for leaving work at work? Please share them below, we’d love to hear what works for you.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.