Time. We never have enough and so I am obsessed with time management and productivity! Here are a few ways to make your lives a bit easier once the craziness of the year begins.
1. Leverage tasks to students
Students always want to help and there are plenty of tasks that need to occur in any given class that we can delegate. We do not have assistants (usually), but we do have kids who want to show that they too are valuable to the class …of course we know how important they are, but do they?
How to implement: These are tasks like handing out instruments, passing out music, cleaning up, etc… At the beginning of the year show kids exactly how to complete a given task correctly, have them practice it, then create a rotation schedule that they can see and your done!!
2. Systemize as much as you can
The less you have to think about, the better! Systems is how McDonald’s grew into the huge company that it is. The owners knew that if they had very simplified instructions to repeated tasks, any 18 year old that had the job could do it. This meant that not only was the quality of product successful in every store, but no time was wasted when a new restaurant was opening up; the operations were all set!
How to implement: Teach your kids procedures for coming in, sitting in their seat (assigned seating might be helpful, depending on your students), moving to the carpet, etc.. Again, use the first few classes to go through these. A very important point is that kids need to practice these procedures like the tasks above. In the beginning of the year, kids want to please, so it is the PERFECT time to go through these and “catch them being good!!”
3. Know your outcomes
In practically every productivity book out there, this one shows up. You need to know what you are working towards. This is no surprise, however, Tony Robbins adds a nice twist to it. One of our outcomes could be to prepare kids for the upcoming concert, but sometimes things come up (ok, something ALWAYS comes up) and you can’t get to all of the music on the program, so what do you do? Decide what must get done and do only that. (For more info on this, Google Robbins’ Time Of your Life ~ choose from videos, articles and products.)
How to implement: Going back to the previous example ~ your outcome is to prepare your students for the upcoming concert. Let’s say they are singing and playing 5 songs. Of course, you would like to cover ALL of the songs and instrumental parts, but the class has yet to unfold. List all of the songs and all of the specific items (measures to go over, pitch, dynamics during a certain section, etc…) you want to work on in those songs. Then star the items that are absolutely necessary. The bottom line being that if you are crunched for time, you already know what you can live without. There is no time wasted on the inevitable “Oh no, what should I do?…. now that the teacher has shown up 15 minutes late because they had to finish some ridiculous state test (not that I have an opinion on such matters J) Also it is helpful to list them in order of importance.
4. Have a plan for behavior
I know I keep bringing this up, but Fred Jones’ Tools For Teaching goes through this beautifully. If you have missed my blog posts on it, here is the main one: http://noteknacks.com/what-to-do-with-behavior/ . It’s worth checking out!
How to implement: This book covers it all ~ from setting up your classroom for success to strategies for the pumpkins we will surely encounter.
5. Have at least an outline of what you are going to cover in the upcoming year.
It is true that we all have state standards to cover, but at the end of the day, it is up to us to decide what to teach when. If we do some of the major planning on the front end, the year will go a lot smoother.
How to implement: This summer…or right before school starts…create an outline of what needs to be covered when, as well as what pieces, songs, folk dances etc.. you want to cover. When you finally get into your classroom, make sure all of the materials are ready to go.
Resources: Books, articles, YouTube videos from Tony Robbins, Darren Hardy, and David Allen