Stop Taking Grading Home: 8 Tips to Take Your Life Back

Eight Simple Tips For Taking LESS Work Home!

Every teacher knows the routine: stacks and stacks of papers go into the bag. The bag goes home, gets slung on the counter. It taunts you all afternoon and into the evening until you’re grading papers while falling asleep to the sounds of the Jeopardy music. The truth is, that after engaging with students all day and very little downtime for grading and planning, taking work home often seems like a necessary evil. However, there are some things you can do to, literally, lighten your load as you head home. 

1. Not All Assignments Need Grading. 

Stick with me, here. I am not suggesting busy work or work for the sake of work. However, there is such thing as good old fashioned practice. Some activities lend themselves to evaluation through class discussion or are simply a step in the larger learning process. Be okay with letting those things slip past the grade book. 

2. Active Monitoring Saves Lives

This may be a touch dramatic but it will save your sanity! As your students are working, you can roam the room to assess their learning. You can input a grade for participation or effort. If you are monitoring their progress in the classroom in real-time, you do not have to grade as much later.

Eight Simple Tips For Taking LESS Work Home!

3. Be A Good Steward of Your Planning Period

This is definitely the hardest one. Once the kids are gone for that precious planning time, it’s tempting to want to socialize with your peers, eat in silence or ya know, pee. And while these things are all necessary and important, be sure to carve out some time for actual work between decompressing and other obligations (#meetings). Set a timer for 15 minutes and see how much grading you can do before hitting the break room. 

4. Use Your Resources

By now, most school systems pay for platforms that will host and grade your assignments. Things like SchoolNet or Canvas can be intimidating but once you get the hang of the system, you can input your assignments. This is great because it gives students instant feedback, saves paper and often gives you a breakdown of performance by standard and/or question. 

5. Work Smarter, Not Harder

Being an innovative teacher is admirable but when the work is piling up, it’s okay to take a reprieve and revert to what you know works. There’s no need to spend hours planning to reinvent the wheel when there is a free or cheap resource available to you online (TpT here I come!). Beg, borrow and steal. Then when you’ve got some free time and some great ideas, return the favor–ya know, like in July. 

Eight Simple Tips For Taking LESS Work Home!

6. Set Boundaries

Ultimately, there will simply be times when you can’t get it all done within the school day/week. If you have to take work home, be reasonable. Treat yourself to a Sunday afternoon at a coffee shop while you grade papers but also know that you are a whole person with a real life and almost everything can wait until Monday. You will be a better teacher with rest and time to relax

7. Touch Everything Once

Whether it’s a field trip form that needs to be submitted, worksheets that need grading or something that needs to be recycled–handle it the first time you pick it up. The endless shuffling of papers leads to lost items and forgotten tasks. That leads to overwhelm which ultimately puts you behind. The temptation is to get sidetracked or avoid less than savory tasks but “eat the frog”, as they say, and deal with things right away so they do not pile up on your desk–or in your take-home bag.

8. Use the Summer

There is something to be said for using a few hours of your summer break here and there to organize your classroom or plan well in advance to help streamline the school year. Even an hour or two a week can make a huge impact on how the school year goes and ultimately pay dividends by freeing up your evenings. 

Also Read:

Eight Simple Tips For Taking LESS Work Home!

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I am a Southern gal, mama to two kids (8 years and 6 months) and I have been teaching middle school for over 7 years. I love to go hiking or read a book in my free time. My favorite part of teaching is connecting with kids over things beyond just academics--teenagers are awesome!

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