We often put productivity hacks with the 9-to-5 office job or overworked college students acing finals. But what about teachers and children? With the new school year just getting started, teachers are busy as ever. Children too are in that transition phase from summer to kicking school off with new homework assignments and projects. It’s safe to say, it wouldn’t hurt to have some productivity hacks. Read to learn how teachers can leverage stereotypical “office hacks” in the classroom so he/she can have a more productive and manageable school day. (# includes blueprint storage racks!)
1. Pomodoro Technique for Kids
We’ve discussed the Pomodoro Technique in our last article. In case you’re unfamiliar with the technique, this method involves doing an activity for 25 minutes straight. After the 25 minutes are up, you take a 5-minute break. After working four 25-minute increments, you are rewarded a 15- to 20-minute break.
How to incorporate it in the classroom?
The Pomodoro Technique is great for clear, straightforward tasks. In other words, spontaneous tasks—such as free time—may not work with this technique.
Instead, use it when students are doing individual work. Perhaps you’ve taught addition and subtraction and children are practicing addition problems? After the 25-minute period is up, children can take a 5-minute stretch break? Especially given children’s short attention spans, this technique rewards students for their focus. Teachers can also apply this method to grading papers and creating lesson plans, effectively getting more done in less time.
2. Peak Productivity Times
Every student has their own productivity peak time. Some may be in the morning, others in the afternoon, and some after lunch. Observe classroom behavior, noticing when children are paying attention and when they’re inattentive. You don’t have to record peak times down. Simply, making a mental note of when your students are most engages will make planning scholastic activities easier.
You can plan new concepts and lessons around the most attentive time period. While scheduling free time and activities that involve concepts students are familiar with at the least attentive.
Meditation has been linked with increased focus. Not to mention, reducing stress and increasing happiness. Why not incorporate it in the classroom? Even taking 5 minutes out of the day to teach children how to sit still can have positive benefits. Try meditating at the beginning of the day, setting an intention on the type of school day you and your students want to have.
4. Free Time
Otherwise called innovative creative time, this time period is for creative exploration. Since students are going from one activity to the other, always in the “doing” mode, it helps to change things up and allow students time to innovate. During this time, children can draw, build blocks, read…—anything that has to do with thinking outside of the box.
5. Designate a Specific Time to Check Your Email
It’s hard throughout the school day for teachers to have any free time, let alone time to check their email and make the most of the break that they have. By designating a specific time, teachers don’t need to go through emails on their days off or after school. This leaves them more time to relax at home and come to school the next day feeling refreshed.
6. No Busy Work
It’s easy (and, at times, necessary) to pile on the practice work. But busy work—work that’s simply for the sake of doing—isn’t productive and, in fact, doesn’t help anyone. When planning assignments, simply ask yourself what the purpose of this assignment is? If it takes you a minute or so, chances are, it’s more busy work than productive work. If you’re on the fence, perhaps it’s not so much the lesson that needs to be changed but how the lesson is conveyed.
7. Have a Plan B
It’s a student’s birthday. There’s a fire drill. Today’s an assembly. There will always be events that interrupt the regular school day. Having a plan B makes it easier when dealing with these interruptions. And plan B can be as simple as doing the other half of the activity the next day.
8. Make Organization Fun
Let’s face it, students aren’t running to clean up and organize. That’s because it’s treated more as a chore than a game. Make organization fun by choosing a random, mysterious object that needs to be put away. Then, tell students that whoever picks the mystery item up wins a prize. (Of course, you don’t let on what the item is.) After the cleanup period is over, reward the student who picked up the random item.
You can also have a cleanup song. When students hear the song, they know it’s time to clean up.
You can also encourage teamwork by setting the timer. Students must try to cleanup before the time is up.
9. Don’t Multitask
As we’ve mentioned in our other blog posts, our brains have a hard time multitasking. We think we may be experts, but, according to science, we actually spend more time jumping around from activity to activity. Try to create a learning environment where students are encouraged to only do one thing at a time. This will help keep student’s attention and decrease stress.
10. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
We often clump scheduling with meticulous color coding and post-its. But, in reality, scheduling works best when you do it your way. You can literally take out a sheet of paper and jot a few notes down. 5 minutes. Done.
11. Print Lesson Plans the Night Before
Make it a point to print your lesson plans the night before. That way, you don’t forget them at home. Or need to wake up a minute or two earlier to print them out.
12. Store Students’ Artwork in Blueprint Storage Rack
The blueprint storage rack cuts down on space while decreasing clutter. Conveniently place one of the racks next to cubbies or in the corner. Each blueprint hanger can hold up to 60 pieces of artwork. If you have a class of 30 students, that’s 2 pieces of artwork they did during the week. The blueprint storage rack allows piles not to build and helps keep the classroom clean and tidy.
13. Try to Only Do Work at the Class
While your students may leave around 2 or 3, you have lesson plans to go over, projects to grade, and permission slips to check off. You’re looking at least at 2 hours of extra work. Did you know that you’re the most productive 3 hours out of the day? According to an Inc. article, the average employees only work to the max for 2 hours and 53 minutes.
So, spending extra time at home working won’t really solve the productive problem. Try to do work at your most productive peak time of the day. If you can’t, make it a point to only do work at the classroom. That way, you’re able to separate work from home and can decompress on your commute back home.
14. Work According to Your Age Group
Did you know an 18-year-old works differently than a 35-year-old? Yep, according to CNN Health, your prime work schedule depends on your age. Late teens to early to mid-twenties sleep and wake up later than older adults.
This is because of the levels of melatonin that are released during certain period of the day. In the young adults’ case, that’s later in the day. People in this age bracket then would probably do the best work after 10 am.
People in their mid-twenties to thirties could create a schedule based on their own preferences but be mindful of irregular shift work, which could have adverse health effects based on one’s own genes. Forty and above, the article stated, should try to do less than 25 hours a week of work so to not be fatigued.
Depending on your age, it may be beneficial to try out the corresponding schedule.
- Use the Pomodoro Technique for kids; have them work on individual activity for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break
- Observe when students are the most attentive, and then schedule the most in-depth lessons around that time
- Incorporate daily meditation into the classroom to promote focus
- Carve out free time for students to create and innovate
- Choose a specific time to check emails so you have more time to spend relaxing at home
- Ask yourself if you’re assigning busy work when making lesson plans
- Have a Plan B for your Plan A
- Make organization fun with games
- Encourage a no-multitask environment where students are only focused on one thing at a time
- Print lessons the night before
- Incorporate a blueprint storage rack into your classroom
- Only work at class
- And work according to your age group
Use all the tips or some, whatever works for you and your class. For any questions or comments, contact us!
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