Sunday, March 4, 2018

Teacher Time Investments

Vlogging is great and all, but I want to do more.  I started finding a focus for my weekly vlogs when possible last week.  This week's focus was Teacher Time Savers.  I have more, lots more coming on this topic, but this week I went through my regular routines and discussed how they save time.  Overall, I spend more time on the front-end to save time - I like to think of these as time investments.

#1:  Print to SMART Notebook Document Writer
If you are SMART Notebook user, you should have the option to print to the "SMART Notebook Document Writer."  This will take any Word document or PDF, and convert it into a slide in SMART Notebook.  I use this feature weekly to display worksheets and activities that we are working on in class.  (Be careful if you want your pages to print landscape orientation instead of portrait.  You may have to change this option.)

#2:  How to Save Time Grading Tests
I actually already dedicated an entire post to this topic.  You can read about my routine here.

#3:  Quick & Easy Homework Passes
I make my homework passes out of business cards.  I've been using Vista Print for years for this purpose (not sponsored).  I choose a pre-made template, and add in my own info to convert the business card into a homework pass.  Vista Print often has sale codes available.  Last time I made a new set of homework passes, I paid $10 for 2,000 cards.  As a result, my homework passes are no-prep, and cannot easily be duplicated.

#4:  Print Notes for Absent Students
Teaching Geometry means that many lessons are new for students.  I mean completely new.  Students need a good base of background knowledge to be able to complete practice exercises, and I take notes very seriously.  Since I use SMART Notebook, I have all the notes on my computer, and can easily print them out.  Every day that I give new notes, I print out notes for all absents students during my morning prep.  I peek at SchoolTool for my later classes to estimate how many students are going to be absent, so I unless students are dismissed early, I don't have to worry about absences again throughout the day.

#5:  Save Notes for Students
This tip goes along with number 4.  After I print out the notes for absent students, I save a copy of the notes as a PDF.  When you're in the SMART Notebook file, go to "File," "Export As...," and select "PDF."  I save copy just in case, and I can upload the PDF files of the notes to our class website.  (These also come in handy when I have students assigned to ISS.  We have to send their work before school begins, and I won't have notes until after I've taught the lesson.  What I do to compensate is use the notes I saved from the previous year when possible.)

#6: Communicate with Absent Students
To easily communicate with my absent students, I created a slip to attach to any work that absent students need.  It lays out what students missed, what needs to be turned in, when it needs to be turned in, and if the student missed a quiz.  This eliminates questions that students would understandably have after receiving multiple pages of work after an absence.

#7:  Make Absent Work Easily Accessible
If you follow any teachers online to see how they organize their classrooms, you've probably seen an absent student system that includes a crate, and file folders for each day of the week.  Absent work is filed for each day, and students look for the materials from the day they were absent.  This is certainly easier than what I do. However, I don't think this would work for my students.  (They have a hard time finding the extra homework from the previous day because they start with the current day's folder.)  Also, there is nothing to grab their attention to remind them to look in the bin.


What I do is staple a folder for each class period to my bulletin board (pictured above).  I put the packets I make for absent students in the folders.  This grabs their attention, and when it doesn't, it grabs mine and I can remind students they have absent work.  (This is usually the case for the students that are rarely absent, and therefore forget the absence procedure.)  My process also streamlines where students have to look to find their missing work.

#8:  Organize Up-coming Materials
In the fall I made a video about how I organize worksheet/lesson materials here.  What I have changed since then is including the answer keys.  This has been very helpful.  Firstly, it keeps everything I need for the day in one location.  (Before I would start teaching, forget the key, have to look for the key, etc.)  Secondly, it separates each day's materials.

#9:  Prep for the Next Day
Most afternoons before leaving, I prepare for the next day.  I move the lesson materials I need for the next day to the front of my classroom, and I put the papers that students will pick up in their respective bins.  I update my whiteboards with the next day's standards, objectives, and information that students need, such as homework assignments.  Doing this each afternoon helps relax me, and makes my next morning much less stressful.  It only takes a few minutes, but it saves me more time in the morning when I'm moving slowly and have more on my mind.

See these tips in action in my latest vlog:

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