Thursday, 3 September 2015

Teacher Week: Sanity Savers


Today's post is all about "Sanity Savers". 

I am not sure how to approach this.....HA!

Ok, first and foremost, in order to start the day "sane", I need to get to school at least 30-60 minutes before the bell. I usually have everything together the night before I leave the school, but I like to just have a little quiet time in my room before the kiddos enter.

As for my classroom and how I maintain sanity......

Here are my 5 "stay sane" ideas :)

SANITY SAVER #1

Using Monday to Monday Folders in the primary grades saved me a lot of time and anguish. 

For example, once upon a time, I was checking reading logs every day. I'd get notes like "Sorry didn't read! Johnny had hockey!" or "Samantha was grocery shopping with me so we didn't get to the reading". Ugh. I knew people were busy, but reading was important too.
Christine told me about an idea she had heard about called "Monday to Monday Folder". Everything you send home (ie. words of the week, books to read, reading logs, weekly or monthly newsletters etc.) all goes home on Monday and gets returned on Monday. So if Johnny has hockey and can't read, he has his reading log at home and can catch up or read extra some other night. Kids can practice their sight words any day of the week. And parents don't have "nightly homework". I have had many parents thank me for these folders and told me that it took a lot of pressure off at home and it gave their kids more responsibility.

You can pick a free copy HERE or our updated version HERE


SANITY SAVER #2

A year ago I had quite the crew on my hands. 
 19 boys and 6 girls and a slew of needs, made for fun times ! Ha! With a few behaviours in my room, I needed to come up with a system that would allow for better transitioning from task to task. For goodness sakes, just taking out their books was a task and a half!

I worked with the Behaviour Specialist in my school to come up with a classroom program. 

I'm sure it isn't new to the teaching world..... But it was new to me!

It's called SPA TIME.
Student Preferred Activity Time.

Each block of time/transition the students are given a time to get ready-- I.e. bathroom breaks, drinks, sharpened pencil and books on their desk. Whatever time remains goes onto the SPA Board (+) and if they run over time it is entered under the (-) time. At the end of the day they can use their SPA time or move it to BONUS. The kids created a list of preferred activities (i.e Capture the Flag, Board Games, Social Time etc.) which we keep posted in the classroom. If they move their time to BONUS, they can continue to add to it. Bonus preferred activities might include a Movie or Pot Luck etc. (depending on how much time is banked).

Here is the board that I made for my classroom. Click the link HERE to see my post and spa board freebie.

SANITY SAVER #3
Around ANY holiday in the upper grades, I would host a month long ticket system!

I purchased a roll of tickets and gave students tickets for various things --(i.e. agenda or tests signed, having books out on desk without being told, completing homework, beating their mad minute math scores, demonstrating kindness, helping others, etc.). 

The students held onto their tickets until the last day and then put their tickets in for various prizes. Last year I held an auction, but this year I decided to do a blind raffle.
I purchased various items to raffle off.


The students walked around with their earned tickets and dropped them into the bags of choice. They were not allowed to touch or pick up any of the prizes. Just a good ol' fashion game of chance!

SANITY SAVER #4

Schedule Cards. I use them in ALL GRADES. I know some teachers think that once kids get into the upper grades that schedules look silly or are not appropriate for the age. Oh goodness...... I CANNOT tell you how much grief and headache these cards have saved me. They are editable and easy to use! I don't get "when is gym?" OR "Miss, when are we presenting our projects?" OR "When is the assembly?" You don't even need the cards..... just have the schedule written somewhere for the students to see. 


Kids come in after recess, check the schedule and go with it. 
After Lunch Recess, I usually have independent reading time. The kids look, see the schedule cards, grab their books and read. No wasting time and asking what we're doing and me answering the same question a bazillion times. 

SANITY SAVER #5

Don't bring home things to mark (if you can).


For years I trucked bins of books home to mark. They either stayed in my car or at the front door. My husband is married to a teacher, and he knows it's par for the course. However, I am a big believer in family time and that school (which is a job) can wait. It doesn't make me less of a teacher, but a better one.

Alright.... how else can we stay sane? 
Check out other ideas HERE.

~Kaitlin~

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