Unshakeable Day 2

20 ways to enjoy teaching every day...no matter what

#2 Allocate your time and energy wisely through productive routines

I was worried this chapter would be the same old "work smarter not harder" baloney. IT WAS! However, the author actually had some good strategies and reminders.

I think the main idea I got from this chapter was: Manage your energy not your time.

#2 Allocate your time and energy wisely through productive routines.

In chapter 1, the author wrote about the importance of having a rich personal life to inspire your teaching, be a passionate person, and create rapport in the classroom. “Spending time with people you love gives you more energy to teach.” But how do we find the time with all the demands of creating engaging classrooms and lessons? Get more done with less time and energy.

Productivity Level: At first I was going to be furious as I started this chapter. I was thinking, “Really? Another person telling me I need to work smarter not harder.” Yes, that’s what she’s saying, but with strategies in how to do this. I opened my mind. I agree that from 3:30 - 5:00, I’m not always “working.” I am having a snack, surfing the net for ideas, visiting, unwinding. I wonder how much time I am working? Then how much time am I spending on work that I take home? Maybe I can free up an hour or more a day for the things that energize me and still my job top notch.

Be intentional with your time and go to school to WORK. Set goals for the day, no personal diversions checking personal email or Facebook. Those add up and time is sucked away. Early mornings can be the most productive time to work. This can be hard if you aren’t a morning person, or have to wait to take kids to the babysitter. But….. if setting the alarm an hour earlier and checking email at home in pjs with coffee and getting the mind ready for the day is a big step toward being ready to work when you get to school. I can easily let mental exhaustion at the end of the day get the better of me than in the morning.

Don’t do things in the morning that will put you in a bad mood. First thought - fighting with the jamming of the copier - best left for afternoons. The author talks about triggers that get you boiling and tasks that are essential for the rest of your day should never be done in the morning. “Create a pleasant morning ritual for an easy transition into your day.” Do things that will get you excited. Turn on music, have a cup of coffee, go through plans for the day. Greet your students. I tend to have an afternoon routine as well. I go through plans before I leave and make sure my desk is clear. I can’t start the day with the desk covered.

This sounds totally familiar:

  • I can’t count the number of times I’d intended to get something done during my prep period and then gotten sidetracked by an “emergency” that left me unable to finish the task. I’d glance at the clock and realize that I was completely out of time, race over to pick up my students from art or P.E., and then frantically try to figure out an alternative lesson while the kids finished their warm-up. Lesson learned: planning time is not guaranteed, and if there’s a task that must be done in order for me to teach a lesson after my planning time, I’d better handle it the day prior!

Angela Watson. Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day...No Matter What (Kindle Locations 343-345).

This is dorky, but it’s who I am. I subscribed to FlyLady.net. When I was in the classroom, she helped me think of my room in zones and my desk like my kitchen sink. My desk cleaned off each night before heading home. Plan time was dedicated to planning a content area for the next unit (or adjusting for next week’s lesson) and setting a 10 minute time to straighten up one zone each day in my room (math center, library, computer pod, writing center). This routine alone made my time so much more productive. Then prepping was after school. I use different apps to help me with time, too. I'm sure we all have our favs.

Re-energize at lunch We are so lucky to have a lounge that looks relaxing and people that are fun to eat with. This year has been great. Some teachers work through lunch, others eat with students and others just want the lights out and quiet solitude during lunch. Figure out what works for you.

After the students leave: do mindless tasks first and stay in motion. No collapsing in your chair. Productivity! Do something that doesn’t require mental energy - straighten chairs, erase the board, organize materials. Check email only when other things are done! Don’t get distracted by the computer that might lead to reading an article or surfing pinterest. You can do that at home.

Work during work.

What routines will you set for yourself to be more productive but not exhausted?