Hands On Math Projects With Real Life Applications 8Th Grade Keep It Super Simple – Work Smarter, Not Longer

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Keep It Super Simple – Work Smarter, Not Longer

I have heard of so many teachers who spend 60, 70, 80 hours a week working. I like my job. I love my students. I love teaching, but we don’t get paid enough to devote that time to our careers. And the best thing is that you don’t have to.

I work from 6:30 to 4:00 most days. Then I go home empty-handed and don’t think about school until the next day. Even keeping these hours, I am able to lead a well organized, exciting, academically driven and high performing classroom.

My goal is to give you some quick strategies to streamline your planning, organization, and work so you can be successful as a teacher and still have a life!

First, plan with a team. In team planning you “share the wealth”. Each teacher brings strengths to the table, and bringing them together to plan raises the level of everyone’s plans. Working in a team also gives you the opportunity to bounce ideas off others in a non-threatening environment.

If there are no other teachers at your school to plan with, find one in the area. Teaching is, unfortunately, a mostly isolated profession: teaching, planning, grading and working alone. Planning shouldn’t be. You’re only as good as your plans, so find other professionals to plan with.

Second, plan “in bulk”. At my school we do one afternoon a week and plan each subject for a month. The first week we plan reading, the second we plan math, the third we plan writing, etc. By doing this, you know what you need in advance, so there’s never a last-minute rush. This also covers you in case of illness or other unexpected emergency. If you have teaching assistants or parent volunteers come to your room, you know ahead of time if you need anything to help you cut, buy, or put together.

Bulk planning can also help you ensure you cover all standards and expectations. You’re never left hanging on the wind with 3 weeks of school left if you’re continuously waiting in large blocks of time.

Third, simplify your lessons. Every lesson doesn’t need to have an art project, worksheet, or pretty product. The best lessons are those that have a clear purpose, a concise objective, streamlined teaching and maintain academic flow. My classroom is a “no worksheet” zone. Children don’t learn from flashcards. They learn from clear teaching, real-world application, and the use of all senses.

One of my all-time favorite teaching tools is plain, white paper. You can do almost anything with plain white paper. There are hundreds of ways to turn it into graphic organizers, stories, books, reviews, word family charts, and more. Children feel ownership of their products, and it’s a real assessment. For great things to do with paper, visit Dinah’s archives.

I have all kinds of students in my class, just like you: “typical”, gifted, ESE, ADHD, and the list goes on and on. Most of these students don’t want to sit in a chair all day; they’d rather move! Having a classroom that allows children to learn in the way they are most capable of makes sense. During my day we have lots of music, movement, dance, writing, drawing, co-operative work, hands-on centers and structured ‘learning through play’.

Try one of these tips and see if you become a happier teacher with more time to play!

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