Thursday, September 3, 2015

Teacher Week 2015: Sanity Savers

Hi, Teachers!

Today's theme is all about saving your sanity. This is a biggie for me! I really believe that taking care of yourself as a person first lets you be a much, much better teacher.

So what are my tips and tricks for making my work life easier? I'll share some! And I'd LOVE to hear yours in the comments, because I definitely will take all the help I can get in this area!

  1. Managing Time Effectively:
    In this blog post, I discussed how I actually have a schedule for writing my lesson plans. I used to run around like a chicken with no head trying to get everything done. As a result, I would do 3 things at once, and they would take 4 times longer than they would have if I did them all alone. This process gave me an end-goal and REALLY helped me to focus and complete what needed to get done.
  2. Developing Personal Routines:
    This might sound silly, but I have many routines that I use that really help me to save time.

    Word Study (Sorts): After giving all of my students Developmental Spelling Assessments and figuring out where they are, I plan for my groups the same way each week. I put sticky notes in my books where there sorts are to make copying easy. I've even written the name of the group and the number of copies I need for each group on the sticky. I leave that part of the sticky on the page when I make copies. Then kids can go in the extra papers bin if they need another copy of their sort and they will know they've found the right one. It also makes storing the sorts easier for me. Because I leave the stickies in the book, I know which sort my kids left off on. I can either copy the next sort or skip one or two if my kids don't need them. I write what they'll be doing in my word study folder and viola! I'm done!
    Word Study (Word Wyall): I also use certain papers every week for teaching the kids their word wall words. I give my kids flash cards they can practice with, make copies of a few games, etc. I have all of these papers copied and stapled together in packets. Each week, I write the words on each page and then make copies of them. It's much easier than grabbing every page every week. It's such a small thing, but it saves me so much time. At the beginning of the year, I make thirty or so copies of these packets and I make more during the year as I need them.
    -Planning: Every time I plan lessons, I copy and paste each individual lesson plan into a document for that unit. For example, the first year that I'm teaching a unit on addition, I have a word file for that. In that file, I copy and paste every lesson I teach in order. The next year, I can look at that file and copy and paste previous lessons into the current year's lesson plans. Of course, there are many times where old lessons need to be tweaked a bit or completely changed depending on my class' needs. So, I copy and paste new lessons in there too. After a few years, I have a really great collection of lessons to pick and choose from. I am always updating these documents, but they help me to see my thinking as years go on. I can look at old lessons and say, "THAT WAS AWFUL LAST YEAR! I'm DEFINITELY not doing that again!" or I can say, "WOW, I did NOT expect that to go over so well. I need to do that this year!" I do this for every subject.
  3. Take breaks:I really find that when I take a break, I am able to tackle the task at hand. I make a point of stopping during lunch, even if it's only for ten minutes in my own classroom. Similarly, I make sure my KIDS take breaks. They really need it! I love the 3rd Grade Thoughts brain breaks, which you can purchase here. You will feel much happier when your kids can focus. I also use the website Go Noodle for both energizing and calming brain breaks. Responsive Classroom has a great YouTube playlist of brain breaks you can use with students here. Check them out! When I started giving my kids breaks, I got through content much faster than I did before, and my blood pressure was much lower. Happy kids = happy teacher!
  4. Get an organizer to house your copies for the week:Getting something like this really helped me. You can buy this one by clicking the picture below. Each drawer is assigned a day, Monday through Friday, and I house all of my copies in there. It saves space and I don't have to look for stuff I've copied. Everything is organized during the week. I actually have a 6 drawer one because I use the last drawer for extra copies or copies of things I will be using soon.

These are my big tips for now! How is your first week going? What do you do to stay afloat? Comment below!


  1. LOVE the five drawer organizer for your copies - that's a great system! I love monarch butterflies, too!

    1. Hi, Susan! Yes, it works REALLY well for me. Let me know how it works for you if you try it. :)