Avoid the Late-Winter Slump


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3 ways teachers can stay organized and focused

By Rachel Wilser

The time between winter break and spring break can be a slog. Depending on your district, you might only have a day or two off here and there. You’ve probably got a set of report cards due, and you might also have a round of data to collect and/or conferences to hold. You probably also have assemblies to prepare for, and, you’re likely gearing up towards whatever standardized test your district uses. If you’re not careful, this can be an overwhelming time of the year. Today, I’m sharing three top tips to help you stay focused, organized, and optimistic during this time of year.

  1. Write down ALL. THE. DEADLINES.
    I’m a big believe in keeping just one calendar, except for when I’m not. Stay with me here. I’m definitely not one of those people who has 3 different calendars, but I also don’t like to clutter up my personal calendar with every single thing going on for school. So, here’s my happy medium: big deadlines (report cards, end of quarter, conferences, benchmark testing) go on my personal calendar, as do breaks. Anything smaller goes on my school calendar, usually a desk calendar that I can just to as I read emails, and so on. I do also make sure to add weekly meetings, events, and the link on my weekly lesson plan template.

    The process might look something like this: tracking all meetings, coaching sessions, and deadlines on my desk calendar; making sure that all significant deadlines are on my personal calendar (so I don’t do anything crazy, like plan to go home the weekend before report cards are due or something like that). Then, I make sure that each week as I plan my weekly lessons I note any meetings or abnormalities in our schedule (assemblies, concerts, etc.).

  1. Do one small thing every day.
    Don’t let the large tasks wait; break them into smaller tasks and work on them daily. Even if your small task is something unrelated to the larger goals. I suggest that you set yourself a time to leave school daily. For me, it was usually about 45 minutes after dismissal, but rarely longer than an hour. Some days, all I did after school was clean up my classroom. Other days, I would run copies, grade papers, plan for small groups, or contact parents. Before a large deadline, I might make sure that I have the materials I needed for data assessments or write a few report card comments.
  1. Leave school at school.
    My last tip for staying positive is to not bring home a bunch of work nightly. If you’re using your planning time, and also accomplishing one task every day after school, then you shouldn’t really need to do too much at home. Teaching is such an emotionally taxing job already that you really don’t want to bring much home.

Late winter can be a demoralizing time of the school year, but with a little effort, organization, and planning, you can stay organized and optimistic during this busy time.

Besides, spring break is coming.

 

Rachel Wilser has spent the better part of a decade in classrooms around the country — in private, public, charter, elementary, and middle schools. Now, she chases twins and drinks coffee while planning her return to the classroom.

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