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3 Ways to Simplify!

Hey Peeps! It's Traci from Dragonflies in First here.

Things have been very hectic at work over the last couple weeks due to conferences. It seems like a perfect time to share a popular post I shared on my blog last year  -  all about keeping things simple and lightening your stress load.

Desert 5 ways?! Yes please.


Now this post is going to be a little disappointing because it has nothing to do with several ways to do dessert. Or anything delicious for that matter.

But I do have 3 keeping it simple in your classroom ideas to share with you.

How many times have you carted the same stuff back and forth to work?
How bad does your shoulder hurt from carrying that heavy bag?

I don't use a bag. I walk to and from work. 2 miles each way! And, going home is ALL uphill. Doing that walk with a heavy bag is just not fun at all. So here's what I do so that I don't have to worry about carrying a bag.

LUNCH: One day a week I bring in a bag of groceries for lunch. I bring everything I will need to make a salad for lunch all week plus a few extras. Most things last longer than a week, so I don't need to replenish much each week. No preparing lunch the night before or the morning of work. (As a side note: I also keep a little make-up bag and "freshen up kit" at work, too.)

DIGITAL STORAGE: No reason to carry a computer back and forth. I save things I will need both at home and work in DropBox or Google Drive. I've made sure that the computer I use at work and the computer I use at home have the same fonts installed so I never have to worry about my documents not looking right.

PLAN & PRIORITIZE your SIDE WORK: Each week I plan WHEN I will do all those extras that end up taking so much extra time and so often used to end up going home with me after work. A to do list is a lifesaver, but it has to be attainable. I am now very realistic with myself. I make a doable list that is prioritized with the most imperative things at the top. If I don't get to the bottom items, I move them to the next bit of prep-time that I have. I do not let myself take anything home unless it is something that must URGENTLY be done by the next day.

I've said this before - but it's worth repeating - PLAN AHEAD. Copy and plan a month ahead. Set aside one day a month to plan for the following month. You will be thankful for the extra time you spent that ONE DAY for an entire month... AND you won't have to cart things back and forth between work and home.

Some teachers have very complicated student jobs. I know a teacher who makes sure that every single child in their class has a different job every single day. For over 30 kids! That's a LOT of work! I used to have 8 different jobs, then 5... now I'm down to 3! Three has been the magic number for many years now. Each year I tweak the job description of these 3 jobs depending on the kiddos and things that come up... but here are my jobs:

JANITOR - Dismisses students who have cleaned up their area to line up and selects 2 friends to help him/her empty the trashcans at the end of the day into the "big cans"

MESSENGER - Takes anything that needs to be delivered elsewhere (usually chooses a friend to go with him/her), puts papers into cubbies (again with a friend), and runs the pledge, calendar and morning sight word reading.

LINE LEADER - Besides the obvious, the line leader is also in charge of making sure centers are clean and orderly at the end of each day.

These jobs last a whole week. With 30 kiddos, each child has a turn at doing all 3 jobs before the year ends.

This is a piece of scrapbook paper, trimmed slightly and glued to another piece of black scrapbook paper. On that I glued 3 black circles with the job names on them. (These jobs cards are part of the Basic Black Labels FREEBIE in my Fan Freebie tab on my Facebook page.) Then I laminated it. After stapling it to the wall I screwed 3 cup hooks through it. Then I put 10 name cards on each hook. Each week, I rotate the card in the front, to the back. After I've gone through all of the names, I rote the entire stack of cards clockwise and start again.
This one is quick and easy but took me FOREVER to learn. It took me a long time to learn that I don't need to grade everything. In fact, the kiddos (even the little ones) get more out of grading things with me. I have strict rules. We use red pen to grade. NO going ahead. You MUST fix anything you got wrong with RED PEN. If you don't follow those simple directions you lose your paper and all your hard work AND your tile gets moved (my behavior management system). I let the kids parents know that we do this in class so the kiddos can learn that:
  • no one is perfect
  • we all have things to learn 
  • it's okay if you don't know, but not ok if you don't try
  • we learn things ALL day - even when we are correcting work
When we "grade" things - the kiddos are usually the ones giving me the answer, not the other way around. AND they cannot just tell me the correct answer. They must give the answer in a complete sentence that includes the word "because".
EXAMPLE:  "(b) cat is the correct answer because (a) boy is not an animal and (c) dog is not an animal that says meow"

So there you have it. It's not dessert. But a simplified work week is almost as good as dessert.

Ok - it's not.

But it's more enjoyable than "chaos 3 ways". :)

What are your favorite things to do that SIMPLIFY your work day?

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