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Teacher Tips to Achieve a 40-Hour Work Week

We understand that a teacher’s workload is seemingly never ending. With all the extra time required for paper grading, lesson planning, IEPs, and paperwork, a 40-hour work week for a teacher is almost non-existent.

However, we also understand that students can benefit more from a teacher who is well rested, and fully present than one who is burnt out and exhausted. Not to mention, it’s extremely important to take care of yourself for your own health. These teacher tips come straight to you from a National Board Certified Teacher with 11 years of classroom experience, Angela Watson,  who has been blogging teaching techniques and organizational tips for over a decade. She introduced these 6 tips to provide a helpful guide to lessen a teacher’s workload in order to achieve a closer-to-40-hour work week and a better work-life balance!

1.) Hands-On Activities Mean LESS Grading

Just as true: pencil/paper work means MORE photocopying and time spent grading! When you can, work in more hands-on activities instead of worksheets and handouts. These will activate the students’ creativity and cooperation skills, AND lessen the grading load for you.

2.) Saved by the Bell!

If there’s an assignment on the board first thing in the morning when the bell rings, or after the lunch bell rings, this will give you some extra quiet time to complete attendance, check all homework, and even read/respond to parents’ notes. Working on an open-ended activity is also a great way to wind students down from the chaos of school drop-off or lunchtime.

3.) Keep the Bulletin Boards Up

Pick a color of background paper and and border that you’ll be comfortable with for the whole year. Avoiding decorations that are tied to the holidays or seasons will keep your bulletin boards looking timeless all year round. Switching out student work once a month and letting your students be in charge of which work assignments go up are great ways to add variety while still keeping the kids involved.

4.) Clean as You Go

While this may seem like a no-brainer, taking a couple minutes (or even seconds) out of the school day to straighten up, fix a poster, or clear up piles of paper while your students are busy can make a huge difference in your after-school To Do list. If you accomplish little cleaning tasks as you go, this will lighten your load at the end of the day and allow you to get out of the classroom a bit earlier.

5.) Find the “Extra Hour” Time that Works Best For You

Working extra hours when you’re exhausted or distracted tends to affect your productivity like a vicious circle: The more tired/distracted you are, the longer it’s going to take to get your work done. The longer it takes to get your work done, the more exhausted you are. Whether you’re a morning person or an evening person, pick the overtime slot that will give you the most consistent quiet time.

Tip from Angela Watson “I found that I could remain completely undisturbed for at least forty-five minutes if I came in early, but staying late was pointless because I’d end up hanging out in a co-worker’s room or slumped at my desk in exhaustion.”

6.) Create a Self-Running Classroom

This means giving students ownership of the learning process and empowering them to take charge of their learning. Sometimes all it takes is teaching kids simple procedures for each task in the classroom—classroom activities will flow more smoothly, and you’ll have fewer disruptions! Allowing students to take charge of classroom duties (like erasing the board, distributing papers, etc.) lightens your load and provides students with a sense of classroom ownership and pride.

Read more at The Cornerstone by Angela Watson

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