Starting a new school year can come with a lot of stress. Yes, a lot. Peruse these tips to cut down classroom stress or teacher burnout and make your back-to-school transition as easy as possible.
1. Bell work
The increased intensity of many curriculum means that instead of taking the first few minutes of class to take attendance and let students get settled, many teachers are now being asked by their administration to teach from bell to bell.
Make the most of your students time by offering them fun and thought-provoking exercises instead of dull worksheets:
- Try joy journaling, having your students write down a list of things they’re thankful for and allowing them to share with the class.
- Use logic puzzles or lateral thinking puzzles to get your students brains revved up.
- Writing prompts for short essays or poems can engage your students creatively.
2. Transition timers
Keeping track of time is a skill that grows with age and practice. Young children may become impatient or distracted if they don’t know how long it will be until the next activity, especially when it’s a fun break in the day like recess or art class.
Help students learn to manage time and keep track of transitions between classes by using a classroom timer. Special time tracker tools can be fun for students, but even setting a timer on your phone or using a kitchen timer can help engage kids in activities that require time management.
3. Hand signals
In a busy classroom, it can be hard to hear a student try to get the teacher’s attention. Make things easier on yourself and your students by introducing hand signals to the classroom. If students need to use the bathroom, have questions about the lesson, or have a medical emergency, all they need to do is hold up the appropriate number of fingers for you to see.
For reference, create and print out a chart that depicts your hand signals and what they stand for. Introduce your students to the idea on the first day of school and have them practice until they get used to it.
4. Bathroom policy
Making students ask permission to go to the bathroom can backfire, causing accidents or resentment. Children need to be able to attend to their bodily functions. However, we’re all familiar with students who use a bathroom trip to cut class.
For younger students, having a bathroom pass that’s clearly marked and easily identifiable can cut down on bathroom-related absenteeism. You may wish to have students put their initials in an in-out book, or use a bathroom pass placed on a student’s desk instead of carried around in the hallway. Many teachers in older grades prefer their students to simply go without asking permission, but whatever you decide will be your bathroom policy, state it clearly and keep it consistent.
5. Community calendar
Many students may have personal daily planners, but getting young children to write things down and check those planners reliably can leave you with more missed assignments than anything. Set up a calendar somewhere conspicuous, and write due dates and other important events for the class. You may want to use a whiteboard or bulletin board for this purpose to make it easy to edit.
Apps such as Google Calendar can be a great supplement for students when they’re at home. Make sure your students know how to use your calendar app and have a link to the relevant calendar so they can check what’s due when from home, the library, or on the go.
6. A home for wayward pencils
Pencils are a hot commodity in grade school because they’re so easily lost or broken. Having one’s pencil out of commission is also a procrastination tactic used by experts to avoid having to do classwork, whether it’s in sharpening or looking for a new writing utensil. Cut down on pencil emergencies that take up valuable classroom time by having a system to keep track of and replace pencils easily.
Having a pencil rack for students with extra pencils can make it easy for a child to locate a replacement pencil. Tagging pencils with a student’s name, classroom number, or initials can help identify each student’s pencil and keep pencil theft or borrowing to a minimum.
7. Have a turn-in system
Keeping track of homework from multiple classes can be overwhelming. Instead of collecting homework from students individually, set up a turn-in tray for each subject or class you teach or for each student in your class. This way, students will be able to drop off their completed homework even if you aren’t at your desk at the moment.
8. Names on papers
Asking students to highlight their names on their finished homework can help keep track of completed work and cut down on unclaimed or nameless papers. Put a sign up by your turn-in baskets reminding children to highlight their names, and keep a few highlighters there to make it easy for your students to sign their work properly.