MY TOP 10 TIME SAVERS
1. HAS ANYONE SEEN THE ART TEACHER?
If I have the opportunity to get into school early, I usually keep my door closed so no one knows I'm there! Once people know the art teacher is in (especially in the morning) in come special requests or just talking and collaborating. I love to talk!
2. NEVER WASTE YOUR STEPS
If you are going to the other side of the room. . . bring something with you!
3. INVEST YOUR TIME IN STRONG FOUNDATION
I spent many many extra hours cleaning out other art teachers stuff in the summers. I can't work in a crazy space.
I also create files for every lesson I do that is good. I include all handouts, books, student samples (anything that will fit) in my filing cabinet. It took me a few days in the summer but it was the best time I ever spent. Now I just add to it and pull out lessons quickly.
After 4 years of creating a foundation, I can actually leave at our scheduled contract time most days.
4. KIDS CAN
and if they act like they can't. . . they don't do the project. This one is tough for me but I've gotten a lot better. If there are a few in a class can't handle doing a project (due to behavior) I carry on with the students who are ready. The others watch their peers (which is a great model) and I let them wonder why they haven't gotten their materials. I slowly give the materials to students who follow expectations. If a kid has to observe their peers for one week it's not the end of the world. But if they do the project when they are not ready and create chaos they've turned my planning time into cleaning time!
5. IS THERE AN APP FOR THAT?
I love my iPhone for work there are lists on it, reminders that buzz before school starts "remember to bring the paper plates in today", a camera to photograph works in progress, and of course it is my new watch!
6. FINISHED EARLY?
For kids who finish early I have them do something that is purposefully not fun. I know. . . sounds terrible, but once I give out "fun" jobs everyone rushes to complete their art to help. I have been getting a lot more "on task" behavior when I tell early finishers to write in their notebook. AND it saves me time by not having to come up with new projects every week to simply "entertain" students because they are rushing through their work.
7. PAY THEM IN FOOD
Why do kids always want to put up my chairs at the end of the day and wash the tables instead of going to recess? I have a stash of granola bars and other healthy snacks tucked away. Only a few kids know about the stash and they like it that way. I told them once the word gets out everyone is going to want their jobs! They especially like fresh fruit yum. If you work in an inner city you will totally understand this!
8. STUDENTS HELP STUDENTS
Students read and comment on each other's notebooks. It's not the same as a teacher comment but it is important that someone read their entries. I select what I will comment on. Students also go to each other for help during projects. My philosophy is totally collaboration.
I love having 5th grade mentors come in and help students in the Kindergarten. It helps save time having student mentors at each table reminding students how to clean up.
10. A LITTLE HEALTHY COMPETITION
Anytime I can make cleaning into a competition I do. Timers, competing tables, classes, it works! Knowing that they are being timed and judged saves ME time cleaning up later. The key is to set your rules in advance. Do you want to make it who cleans up the fastest, or who cleans up the most efficiently? At the end of the clean up time I usually make a big deal about inspecting their work and commenting. I will call myself "The Queen of Clean" and dramatically check their space pointing out any thing they missed in my most "queenly" voice. The better the kids clean up the less I have to do later.
I tell kids what my grandfather told me "Leave people and places BETTER then how you found them." That's the challenge.