Afternoon Tricks to Ease Your Teaching

As the day lingers, it can be hard to stay focused and motivated.  It can be difficult to remain patient and remember to complete the simplest task, but it was by completing three simple tasks that I made my life so much easier, and I'd like to share them with you too.


There's Pride in Ownership

The first trick comes with about 15 minutes left in the school day.  Assign your students chores, just as you would your own kids.  Have 3-4 kids assigned to wipe down the desks, use others to clean up the library, and pick a couple to vacuum or pick up the floor.  Whatever your problem areas seem to be, that's where you need to assign some kids to clean.  It only take 3-5 minutes and the room will be gleaming for you.  Along with the cleanliness, students learn to take responsibility for their environment and many gain pride in doing a job well.


Mystery Trash, the Game

On days where the floor seems particularly messy I like to play a game with my class.  This is trick number two, and I call it "Mystery Trash."  As the kids are filling out their planner or packing their bags, I take a quick trip around the room and pick 3-5 pieces of trash of varying size, color, and type.  Don't pick them up!  Just make a visual picture of them in your head and then tell the class it's time to play mystery trash.  If it's one of your first times, you'll have to explain the rules to them, but they're pretty simple.  Students pick up all the trash they can see, but before they dump it in the trash or recycling can, they bring it past the teacher first.  As the teacher, I survey their handfuls and look for my pieces of trash I visualized earlier.  Once I see one, I replace that piece of trash with that student's beautiful face.  Keep going until the room is spotless.  It usually only takes a couple minutes.  As kids bring you pencils and markers, glue sticks, and scissors, make sure they place them back in the supply bins and not in the trash.  Grab anything else out of their hands that might need to be kept, and tell them to dispose of everything else.  Once the room is clean, congratulate the winners, and if you'd like, pass out prizes such as class treasures, classroom money, bookmarks, or something easy and affordable.


Set the Room for Success

Lastly, trick number 3, is to set your room up for the next day before you leave that afternoon.  This can be a tough one!  By the afternoon dismissal and carpool has taken place, I feel wasted, I am exhausted and beaten down and just want to go home for some down time, possibly a nap, and some unwinding.  However, I have found that if I push through and set up my room for the morning, I am much happier the next day.  This includes writing the agenda on the board, changing the schedule on the wall, passing out papers to the student's desks, laying out the lesson materials, and more.  Whatever you might have to do before that first group of kids arrives, do it before you ever leave.  Even better, then you're ready in case you need the dreaded emergency sub.  I tend to be a morning person, and so you might think that I would want to do this all in the morning before the kids arrive, but to have it done and be able to focus on the next tier of tasks was really helpful to my productivity and mindset for the day.  It gave me a feeling of accomplishment before I had even accomplished one thing.


So those are just three quick and simple tasks to do before you leave for the day to make your life easier.  What else do you do in the afternoon to make your life smoother?  Leave me a comment below and tell me all about it.



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