How To Work Less

One of the most common questions I get as a blogger/teacher is, “Where do you find the time for everything?”  Today I am going to talk to you about how to work less.  I have a list of 10 time saving tips for special education teachers!

Over the years I have learned to balance my time and multi task like my life depends on it.  With everything in my life, I prioritize and cut out the unnecessary things.  I have learned to “let the little stuff go.”  The little things no longer need to be perfect, not every art craft has to be pinterest worthy and not every lesson will be award winning.  The bottom line is that I am a great teacher, even though I am not perfect.  It is important to manage time and enjoy life too.  Teachers need a re-charge if they are going to make it in the long run.

I rely on my aides heavily throughout the day.  I utilize every minute of the day to the fullest to get everything done.  Special Education teachers have so many requirements when it comes to data, paperwork and organization.  If we slack off, we fail.  Failure is not an option, so over the years I have found some tricks.

Here are my 10 time saving tips to help you leave with your students every day!

1.             Set schedules.
2.             Wipe down tables/desks
3.             Re-set any token boards and working cards
4.             Place working cards/schedules on desk
5.             Re-set Morning Meeting cards
6.             re-stock any empty work folders
7.             Have first “group” of work centers set up at the tables
8.             Plug in/update technology
9.             Wipe down toys
10.           Sharpen pencils if/as needed

This list may look like A LOT of things to get done at the end of the day.  It might seem impossible to do before you send your kids home. However, if you look at it, this can all be done during the last 10 minutes of the day when the students are still here.  I have taught my students to set their own schedules.  I find this to be a crucial skill for students.  As I reset the class schedule in the front of the class we talk about the activities for the following day.  Students set their own schedule to match my schedule and get help when/where needed.  

While I am assisting all of my students with schedules, my aides are working efficiently as well.  I will have one aide wipe down everything with Clorox wipes as well as plug in the iPads and check for apple updates.  I will have a student assist with pencil sharpening if needed once they complete their schedule.  This is part of the classroom jobs bundle I got from Sailing the Spectrum.

My second aide will pull out student work folders at each center for the first group for the following day, the supplies needed for the work as well as pull out the colored clips for their working cards.  Having all of the work already set up cuts down on my prep time for the morning the next day.

Lastly, I have students place their schedule on their desk neatly as well as any visual cue cards/working cards they use throughout the day.  I also add any fidget toys or headphones where needed so these are ready for students when they walk in the door.  Having students set their desk up for the next day helps to set the tone and set expectations for students.  While this helps me greatly, it helps the students too.  This helps build independence as well as prime students of the next day.  If I had to do each student schedule and visual cue card I would have to stay an extra hour each day!

Life is all about balance.  I have a lot on my plate, there is no hiding that.  Every day I take my purse with me to the bus when I take my students out to go home for the day.  I leave from the bus at 3 and I do not take any work home.  I know most readers will say that that is just not an option.  Trust me, it can be.  I choose to leave a 3 without any work; however I do give up my lunch and work through it.  I utilize my lunch break for making copies and planning.  Of course I eat while doing so; I just don’t take lunch as a “break.”

If you follow all of these steps at the end of the school day, I promise you will go home with a lot less stress.  I have been using this system for the last two years and I have found it cuts down on stress.  I no longer lay in bed at night thinking about what time I need to set my alarm so that I can get all of these crucial things done.  This gives me freedom in the morning to stay home and have that extra cup of coffee if I want to.  I get to school about 45 minutes early each day.  This gives me just enough time to check my mail box, check in with the office and take care of my entire house keeping to do list.  This includes emails/scheduling and such.  

The only exception to my “leave when the kids do” rule is when I have meetings before/after school.  Of course we have obligations such as IEP’s, staff meetings and committee meetings.  These cannot be avoided!

If you follow these tips within the school day, you will find yourself to have an extra 5 hours a week at home with your family.  The key is to prioritize, maximize and be efficient.

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