10 Ways Teachers Are Actually Making More Work For Themselves

10 Ways Teachers Are Actually Making More Work For Themselves

Imagine if teachers could bill their hours like lawyers do…. instead of working many unpaid hours beyond contract time. If you’re finding the hours too long and onerous, check out this list to see if you’re inadvertently making more work for yourself. And yes, some of these aren’t possible to change in a pandemic, but here’s hoping COVID protocols won’t be a permanent fixture in our classrooms!

Teachers, here are some ways to stop making more work for yourselves.

1. Grading every assignment

You don’t have to mark everything your students produce. A quick glance over it, some oral feedback in the moment, and you’re good to go. Would you want to be graded on every single lesson plan? Nope. So just mark select things, throw out a sticker or two, and check for completion on everything else.

2. Writing full lesson plans

Speaking of lesson plans, if you’re still writing them out in full, throw on the brakes. Only subs and admin need to see the real deal. So on a daily basis, as long as you know in your head what you want to accomplish, and can justify doing it if anyone asks, quick jot notes will do.

3. Not having students check their own work

On rote tasks (think skill and drill math sheets), marking 27 worksheets is a real time-killer when you could get the students to mark it themselves. This can be done individually, in pairs, in small groups, or as a class. Bonus: it forces them to pay attention to their mistakes.

4. Over-planning activities

Do you spend a lot of time making sure everything needed is all laid out and organized? Instead, try having the students figure out what they need to complete the task, then gather their own materials where possible. It gives them ownership while taking the load off you.

5. Not allowing students to lead their learning

Student-led learning puts a lot of the process in the hands of the students. Sure, you can plan the task, write the rubric, create the graphic organizers, set up the slides, and give students the information. Or, you can have a guided class discussion where they brainstorm ideas for the task, generate a checklist, and decide what format they’d like to use. Then let them run with it while you monitor the process and progress. Project planning: check. Done within the school day: check.

6. Writing new rubrics for every project

Speaking of rubrics – if you are making a new rubric for every project, you probably don’t need to. Reuse generic ones and tweak them slightly as necessary. Make sure your key look-fors are included in the generic rubric, such as planning, organization, communication, collaboration, etc.

7. Over-communicating with parents

Are you emailing or texting parents simple information that your students are capable of communicating? Save time by putting them in charge of their own agendas/planners. Build in five minutes at the end of the day for students to write down their homework and upcoming dates. Then save the emails for less frequent, more pressing communication.

8. Making everything Pinterest-perfect

Making fancy learning games and materials can be a fun and engaging way to get kids interested in academic concepts. But it isn’t necessary all the time. Not everything needs to be complicated. You can color, decorate, and laminate those fancy signs, or you can quickly print them on post-it notes. If the game is fun, the kids will be hooked, post-its or no. And hey, if it goes well and you want to keep the game for later, laminate the post-its!

9. Spending hours on bulletin boards

Are you in love with awesome bulletin boards and amazing door decorations? If so, go for it! But if thinking of decorating your classroom is overwhelming, simply put plain fabric on your boards and edge them with borders. Then have the students do the rest. They love cutting out and coloring letters to top the boards. Use their art and schoolwork to fill in the rest. It’s their classroom too, so let them put their stamp on it. You save time, and they feel ownership of their space. Win-win.

10. Cleaning up after students

And finally, stop cleaning up after your students. At least, when the pandemic is over, that is. Kids can dust, kids can organize, kids can sweep, kids can tidy up. The math manipulatives are out of control? Art cupboard overflowing? Let the students take care of it. They absolutely love to help, and they can do a pretty good job with some direction too. Check out these awesome student-led organization hacks for more ideas!

Now all that’s left is to decide what to do with all this spare time you’ll have… (sarcasm intended).

Are there other ways teachers are making more work for themselves? Let’s disucss in the Empowered Teachers community!


10 Ways Teachers Are Actually Making More Work For Themselves

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Anne Lefebvre

Veteran Member

I grew up in the city but now call small-town Ontario, Canada home, along with my husband and two teenage boys. I’m a passionate elementary school educator, but when I’m not at school you can find me playing a sport, reading, or drinking a cup of tea.

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