The goal of this blog post is to help you identify one of the greatest enemies. We’re all guilty of falling for them. These are the things that we do everyday and think that they are helping us, when what they are actually doing is depleting us. You may be asking yourself what in the world I am talking about. I am talking about time sucks.
As a classroom teacher you don’t have time to waste. You have a million and one things to do and they all were due yesterday. You are so short on time that you are willing to read about how someone else is doing it, pay someone else to do the assigned task for us, ask a bunch of colleagues how they have done this assigned task etc.. Yet, none of these things will save you time in the long run. Let’s talk about some of the most common time sucks.
Time Suck #1
The first one I’m going to mention is going to make me sound like a hypocrite, but I’m willing to wear that hat if my telling you saves you time in the long run. I’m talking about all that time you spend scouring TPT for resources to teach that lesson before you’ve even seen if you have a better way to do it or not. I’ve been there. I was actually there just last week.
I am temporarily teaching 5th grade on my campus due to staff shortages. I fell for the trap of wondering how in the world I would fit in grammar using patterns of power and assess what students have learned. I went to TPT before trying to figure out what I could do on my own, mostly because I was tired from a two days notice to turn around to set up a 5th grade classroom and be ready for students. I realize that these are all legitimate reasons to push what I used to view as the easy button, but after I bought the resource I realized I didn’t want to teach that way. I didn’t want to teach skills in isolation. So I asked my co-worker and fellow reading coach for help in creating assessments for the patterns of power sentences.
That’s right, the reading coach, me asked another reading coach for help. That is a legitimate time saving move. Eventually I will create them on my own, but for now I am going to take advantage of the support. To recap, the first time suck that we often fall into is looking at TPT before really analyzing what we already have or tapping into our resources aka our people. Now let’s talk about the next time suck not knowing our standards.
Time Suck #2
Why in the world would I list not knowing our standards as a time suck? It’s because not knowing our standards costs us a whole lot of time and a whole lot of money. Not knowing your standards makes it hard for you to vet resources to know if they are a good fit for your class. Not knowing your standards makes you feel like you are spinning your wheels because you are unsure of what students need to know most and your ability to deliver the lesson. A time saving alternative is to take the time to know what your priority standards are in your current reading unit and what students need to know most to master those objectives. I get it there are a lot of standards and you are not about to memorize them, I know I’m not. Yet, there is a way to study a standard, unpack it and get to a point where you know exactly what your students need to know so that you can effectively teach it.
To recap another time suck is not knowing your standards well enough to vet potential resources, know what students need to know most and have the confidence in your ability to get students to a point of mastery. Now let’s talk about the third and final time suck which is a lack of planning.
Time Suck #3
I know, I know. Planning is a teacher’s version of a four letter word. We don’t like having to do it, we don’t like being told to do it, and we especially don’t like being told how to do it. Yet, a lack of planning actually creates more stress. Why, you ask? Because when we fail to put things down on paper (whether digital or otherwise) we allow the things we need to do to take up valuable real estate in our minds. Planning saves you time in the long run. There are different types of planning that you can and should engage in as your capacity allows. One type of planning is long range planning which allows you to think about your upcoming reading unit as a whole and ensures you have enough time to fit in all of your priority standards. Another type of planning is your weekly planning.
Oftentimes teachers will fall into the trap of following team plans without first thinking if those plans fit their students or their teaching style. My mantra to myself and my teachers is to always make it work for you. In order to do that you have to create your own set of plans. I’m not saying that you always have to start from scratch, but I am saying that you have to put your own spin on things. Finally there is the day to day planning. This means that you actually look back at your lesson plans each day and make sure that the pacing you hoped for is the pacing that is working for your students and if not you adjust things as needed. In education we are often charged with having to be flexible, yet this does not mean that we wing it. As I like to say, winging it is not a good look.
To recap, the last time suck we touched on was planning. Although, we don’t want anyone telling us how to plan or when to plan, the fact is that we really do need to plan. We plan because doing so respects our craft and we plan because it helps us to get a better handle on what our students need and how we plan to get them to mastery.
In this blog post we talked about three common time sucks. They were:
- Going down the TPT rabbit whole without a clue of what we actually need or what we already have.
- Not knowing our grade level standards well enough to know what our students need most to understand the current reading unit.
- Not planning and trying to wing it, which really just keeps us in a constant state of overwhelm.
If you’re looking for help with any of these and you want to work alongside other educators in a group coaching container then get on the waitlist for my mini lesson revamp bootcamp. Getting on the waitlist will ensure that you are the first to know when the group coaching program opens for enrollment.
Prefer to Listen? Listen to the episode below: