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4 Back to School Teacher Planning Tips That Get Overlooked

4 Back to School Tips for Teachers that Get Overlooked

As we get into Back to School season, there are so many things to prep and plan. Maybe this is the year that you will make your lunches the night before, or maybe this is the year you will leave school by 4:30. As you start setting goals and prepare for a new year of teaching, here are 4 things that often get overlooked that can make life more organized.

1. Discuss Who Takes on Household Tasks

If you have a spouse, partner, roommate(s), or significant other, it's easy to fall into doing certain household chores or tasks without ever discussing them. Maybe you started to mow the grass each week, and now it has become your responsibility even though you never talked about it. Maybe during summer break when there's more time you've taken on additional tasks. The thing is that once school starts back up if you haven't discussed who will take on specific household tasks, it can quickly lead to resentment if that person no longer takes on the task they "always" did.

It can be helpful to talk with the person(s) you live with about household responsibilities before the school year gets underway. Maybe you are doing all the cooking during summer break, but it would be helpful to share that task with roommates. Maybe you agree to cook dinner during the week, and your partner cooks on the weekend. Maybe your partner is reluctant to step in because they don't like cooking. One idea is to have them choose from a meal plan or have a meal service provider deliver fresh food just on weekends. Maybe your partner makes lunches for the kids, and you make the kids breakfast. Discussing these tasks can also make it easier for you to do the things that you actually enjoy. For example, I don't mind vacuuming so that's one of the household chores that I take on. My husband likes to cook, so he takes on meals, while I prefer baking and will take on homemade bread and desserts.

2. Combat Decision Fatigue

Teachers make so many different decisions all day long. It is said that teachers make more decisions in a day than brain surgeons. We can combat decision fatigue by making the decision once and doing it over and over again. For example, maybe every Friday you always wear the same thing. You decide once that you are going to wear school colors or your school T-shirt and you wear the same thing every Friday. This is now one less decision you have to make each week. You can do this with your planning and prep. Maybe on Monday's prep period, you collect and grade papers, and on Tuesday's prep period, you always enter grades into the grade book. When you have consistency, you are more likely to get into a flow state and get things accomplished in a more timely manner.

3. Prepare the Night Before

I am one of those people that will set an alarm and then set a second alarm for when I absolutely must get out of bed. I am not a morning person. In order to sleep in as much as possible, I decided to do as many tasks as possible the night before. I laid out my outfit for the day including shoes and accessories so that I could quickly get ready. I also don't know how many times I would get to school only to realize that it was a day that I had recess duty and I was not wearing great clothes for standing outside in the cold. Planning the night before made it easier to think through what I was wearing.

In addition to planning out my clothes, I would also prep my lunch in the evening so I could simply grab my lunch out of the fridge in the morning. I also packed my teacher bag and placed it by the front door so that all I would have to do is grab it in the morning. Little things like setting a timer on your coffee maker so that it starts up in the morning and setting out your coffee mug make life a little easier in the morning.

4. Schedule Personal Time as a Calendar Appointment

Teaching can be all-consuming because the work is never done. There is always something more to do. If we aren't careful, teaching can become our full identity. But we are more than just teachers--we are spouses, partners, caregivers, family members, and friends. So if you are finding that you are canceling on friends, or not making it to the gym because life is getting in the way, schedule that time as an appointment on your calendar. When going to the gym is viewed as a calendar appointment with ourselves, we are more likely to go than if we just try to squeeze it in if we have time. It's also easier to say, "Hey I need to leave at 4:30 today because I have an appointment this afternoon." Self-care is not selfish.

Have other tips to share? I'd love to hear from you! Share your tips in the comments.


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