Magazine article Techniques

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Magazine article Techniques

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Article excerpt

Would you like a classroom where students are more motivated to take pride in their work? A place where students take more responsibility for their choices and decisions? Would you like a classroom where there are very few behavior problems and disrupters are not supported by their peers? Would you like to begin every class period relaxed, knowing it is well-planned? Would you like to handle less paperwork while maintaining or increasing the quality of your lessons? How about spending less time per day on school, and having no school work on the weekend?

What if someone could design a program that could do all this and show you how to teach to higher level thinking skills--with less paperwork than you now have?

Not so long ago, I dreamed of this situation, but I didn't know how to achieve it. I looked for someone to help me. But no one was telling me exactly how, and everything I thought of just put more work on my already-full plate. I kept working harder and harder, until my health began to suffer. Some of you may be experiencing the same things: headaches, frequent colds, body aches or waking up in the middle of the night going "What can I do, What can I do?" Finally, I came to a difficult decision--manage my school day better or leave teaching.

I did not want to leave teaching, but I decided to step out of the teaching world and research business management techniques. After all, I thought, teachers manage people, we make presentations every day, we need to know how to handle difficult people, we have multiple projects, and we have deadlines. Maybe some ideas from the business sector could be modified to create more efficient and effective use of my time at work! I combined my B.A., my M.Ed. and more than 100 additional college credits with my 29 years of experience in both elementary and secondary classrooms along with my business world research to develop new ways of effectively and efficiently managing the classroom.

I developed a model to provide specific techniques addressing the questions so many teachers face. My ideas are not specific lesson plans, but rather management techniques one can use every day to reduce stress and fatigue, while producing more responsible students who are creating higher quality work.

A phrase I learned from a business management course kept ringing in my ears: "Do the best job you can in the time that you have." It has been my experience that teachers do not have a problem with the first part of this sentence. We are doing the best job we can! Where we have trouble is the second part, "in the time that you have." If we are not satisfied with our quality, we rob from our sleep time and come in early, then we rob from our private time and stay late. Sometimes that's not enough, so we take work home during the week. Next thing we know, the work is coming home on the weekend, too. I want to share with you, we can do a quality job without coming in early, staying late and sacrificing our private time. It can be done by changing the way we "do business" in our classroom. Classroom management skills are very teachable, but are seldom taught in a specific "take-back-to-your-classroom and use tomorrow" form.

SEVEN HINTS

1. Stereo, not mono

There's a radio station everyone likes to listen to: WIIFM, or What's In It For Me? I've found that many teachers play station WIIFM exclusively in mono, thinking about only what's good for kids. The obvious answer to that question frequently involves more work for the teacher. I will show you a few of the ways to play WIIFM in stereo, meaning what's good for kids and teachers. It takes a shift in the way we think about instruction, and an increased focus on the purpose of our lessons. However, I guarantee you will feel less stress, and there will be an improvement in the quality of student work. It's OK to think of yourself, as well as the students, because where there is less stress, creativity can flourish, and that's good for kids! …

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