Let’s face it. Teaching is an extremely rewarding profession, but we all know that it can get VERY overwhelming at times. Maybe it’s a few weeks into the school year, possibly a few months, but at some point that state of overwhelm creeps in. It’s totally normal, but it’s also important to make sure you take time to destress and create plans to help get things back in order.
Sometimes it may seem like a fairy tale to think about what the outside world thinks we teachers do- leaving right after school, getting restful sleep, and happy to walk in the room each day. What if instead of feeling like things aren’t working, there’s too much stress, and feeling tired ALL the time, you could instead make that fairy tale a dream come true?! Trust me when I tell you it doesn’t have to feel so stressful. It’s not only possible but together, we’ll make it happen! Let me share with you three easy steps to go from ‘doing it all’ to your classroom *almost* running itself!
#1: The Power of Labeling
So let me just tell you my secret right now. The KEY to making classrooms *almost* run themselves, is allowing students to have the power and autonomy to do it all. Sound scary? It absolutely is! But don’t be TOO scared, because I promise when you learn to let go, it is ALL worth it!
One SUPER simple way to empower students to have more ownership of the classroom is by labeling absolutely everything. Not only is this a great way to develop more natural ‘sight words’ for their classroom, it creates the autonomy for students to be able to navigate and learn independently. Don’t be afraid to spruce up your labels with visuals AND words! Do what your student’s need and watch the shift!! Organizing spaces for STUDENTS is one of the most crucial things you can do to start having your classroom *almost* run itself.
Let me paint a picture. Imagine you have a classroom, beautifully labeled in every way, and your students can use those labels to freely get what they need. This means, no more getting crayons or Band-Aids, interrupting whole group instruction for a broken pencil, or students wasting time because they can’t find something. Why? Because their classroom is set up for THEM! They can do it! Let them step into their power! With THESE editable labels, you can design and organize your space so that your students own the room.
Later we’ll get into how to teach students expectations so you don’t have to worry about them not treating materials properly, and/or using things they don’t need. So do it! Label ALL the things and see the workload it takes off of YOU! Just like we tell students, work smarter not harder, it’s time for us to take that advice too.
#2: Making Mornings Marvelous
Building a positive, and supportive classroom climate helps ALL students thrive and grow. No matter what time of the year it is, relationships ALWAYS take priority. Especially when you think about what the last three years have looked like in school! So how can we turn stressed monotonous mornings into marvelous ones? Two words… Morning Meetings!
Morning Meetings get students excited to be at school in the morning (which we know isn’t always the case), they help build and maintain connections, and it creates a dedicated space for emotional check-ins with students. The great thing about Morning Meetings is that they are SUPER easy to implement AND you can pick and choose different components of a morning meeting to fit your needs. Start with a few or even just one. As you and students learn expectations, add in more! It will quickly become one of the most cherished times of the day together.
Now the biggest question is, how does this help my classroom almost run itself? The answer is simple. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Students don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” In order to have true autonomy and trust in your room, students need to feel loved and valued. It is a HUGE piece of your classroom almost running itself. THIS is going to be one of the most powerful tools you have. Once you have the solid relationships in place, everything else comes easy.
#3: Expect the Unexpected
Remember when I said we’d get into teaching expectations? Well here we are with the icing on the cake! It’s time to talk about the importance of having high expectations for ALL students. How do we do that? By teaching them EXACTLY what is expected of them and SHOWING them what that looks and sounds like.
Think about an area or procedure in your classroom that you know could be better. Maybe it’s sharpening pencils, transitioning to centers, or your whole group time? Whatever it is, using this “looks like, sounds like” framework is a quick, easy, and effective way to immediately change to desired behaviors. By explicitly modeling clear and concise expectations, students will know exactly what they need to do and YOU get to reap the benefits! Get back more time to do what you love… TEACHING!
Does this make you more excited to learn more?! In my FREE webinar coming up, I will teach you EXACTLY how to thoroughly think through the process of labeling, implementing morning meetings, and teach students expectations to have your classroom *almost* run itself. It is designed to give you everything you need to transform your classroom WITHIN the same week! Not only will you walk away with easy ideas to apply the next day in your classroom, but you will also walk away with TONS of FREEBIES to make your life easier! Join us at the webinar on December 8th at 3pm EST or December 9th at 8pm EST by signing up HERE!
I really hope you enjoyed learning 3 ways to stop the overwhelm! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the Back from Winter Break Procedures Checklist FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how-to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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