Monday, July 9, 2012

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Have you been following the yellow brick road through TBA's International Blog Hopping Day? I guess for me it's been blog hopping weekend! There are so many great blogs out there to read - you can easily spend the weekend reading and still not get through them all!

In keeping with TBA's theme, I'm dedicating today's post about teaching smart! There are so many "smart" ideas out there

 Visit Live, Love, Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten's linky!

I've made a simple phrase my mantra... "Work smarter, not harder." This is something I learned mid-way through the last school year after attending a workshop on differentiated instruction. I think we all get wrapped up in our school life that a lot of times we make things a little too hard on ourselves. With this in mind, I've listed a few tidbits of wisdom I've learned over the years.

1. Prioritize- There are so many day-to-day tasks that can easily overwhelm us if we don't take a few minutes to evaluate what's important to get done right away and what can wait. I was the #1 offender of this rule. I would try to get so much done during my plan time that I neglected to get any planning done! This hurt my students in the long run. Intentionally modeling this will help your students learn how to prioritize and more efficient with their time as well. It's a win-win!

2. Student Ownership of Space & Learning - There are a lot of times where students can help the teacher with day-to-day upkeep of the classroom and they are eager to help, so why not let them?! The concept of classroom responsibilities is not foreign to teachers, but many do not do it because they don't want to give up control of the classroom space. Just like we're supposed to let students take responsibility for their learning, we can also let them take responsibility for the space. It's their classroom after all.  Use classroom jobs to help your students develop responsibility or immerse them in a real-world situation in a classroom economy. I hope to post my adaptation of another teacher's classroom economy in the not-so-distant future so you can see what it looks like in my classroom.

3. Community Building - Reduce negative behaviors and bullying by taking time each day to help your class build and maintain a learning community. There are many ways to do this, but my favorite is utilizing morning meetings. I learned this structure from a teacher friend who was trained in the Responsive Classroom. Morning meeting is a great way to learn respect for others, to work/play together, and appreciate each other as individuals -- plus, it's FUN! Yes, take time to have fun with your students! Visit Mrs. Gold's Website to learn more about launching your own morning meetings.

4. Brain Breaks - We drill a lot of content and process into our kids on a daily basis. We need to give them a short rest throughout the day. I'm not going to say much other than JUST DANCE! :) Here's a previous blog post of mine on the same subject.

By no means do I have the market cornered on smart teaching. In fact, I have so much more to learn and I cannot wait to share more of the smarts I'll be learning on this blog. I hope you come back and join me on this journey to becoming a smarter teacher!


  1. Great advice and reminders for all teachers. I'm working on prioritizing things myself. I tend to do all the small jobs first so I can cross things off my list and feel like I got a lot done, meanwhile, the big important thing is still looming over my head. No good. Perhaps I need more brain breaks myself.

    The Teaching Thief

    1. Amanda - Some times it's just good to get back to the basics. And about personal brain breaks - yes!! Take time to decompress. I try to make it a goal to take nothing home with me (even though it's a losing battle) so I can spend the remainder of the day with my wife, dogs, and soon my son or daughter!

  2. All great ideas Josh! I just found your blog and am your newest follower, can't wait to read more :)

    Miss L
    Miss L's Whole Brain Teaching

    1. Miss L - I'm glad you found me and that you're following! Whole brain teaching interests me very much so I'll be blog hopping your way soon!

      Have a great night!