So, Teacher Hacks.
I don’t have many. My big one? Like literally a Family Motto?
Automate what can be automated.
- That’s my coffeemaker, for sure. Spend the extra 10 bucks and get one that’s programmable. We went Hamilton Beach Brew Station about 10 years ago. I wake up every damn day with the glorious aroma of Chock Full O’ Nuts wafting up the stairs. Let’s see, 5 minutes of work per morning, times 180 school days… That’s 15 hours I claw back every school year by setting the Source Of All Life And Awareness And Human Functionality And Everything the night before.
- I’m not as good at clawing back time after school. For real, grading will be the death of me. Alice Keeler, co-author of Ditch That Homework, has a thought:
As of late I’ve been having my Principles of Engineering students post a video showing their work and explaining their thinking to Flipgrid.
They divvy up the problems, taking one or two apiece, then they can check the rest of their work by watching their classmates’ posts.
- I’m starting to see that Desmos can be an awesome formative tool now that we are 1:1. I can plan a quick bellringer or stick a Desmos Activity into a classwork assignment.
Then all their thinking shows up on the dashboard, all in one place.
- Lord knows we could all use a little extra cash. Extra Duty opportunities abound. The trick is not to run yourself ragged or cheat your family out of their time, just to get a staple. Eventually in my house we settled on a guideline: anything that happened during the school day (pull-out remediation, staff coverage on short-sub days) or immediately after school was OK, since I was in the building at that time anyway. Anything that would keep me there for hours on end or require weekends was out.
Mrs. Dull did make an exception for a couple of years as an assistant on the boys tennis team, which is a short season.
As for a Wish List? What could I make better:
- I’m super-intrigued by the Parent Contact Form w/auto-email that Matt Miller and Alice Keeler designed in their book Ditch That Homework. If there’s anything in Teacherville that could stand to be lifehacked, it’s parent contact. One of my favorite colleagues from my early days of teaching told me how she committed to making 10 calls a day, every day, so that once every 3 weeks she had a parent contact with every student. She said it was her best year of teaching. She also said it was almost impossible to sustain. I tried it once. I couldn’t keep up.
- Our student records system has a pass-back feature with Canvas, meaning I can grade in my LMS and the scores automatically get sent to my gradebook. Like the old rule about paper: Only Handle It Once, right? I feel like that might save me some time.
As we get comfortable with 1:1, the temptation is to use a tech tool for everything. But as many of my PLN have pointed out, it’s worth asking the question: “Is it better on paper?”
- I’m a long time “Attendance/GBWA on seating chart” guy. I slip the seating chart into a page protector, walk around with a Vis-a-vis, mark my attendance or scores, and away we go. I also slip a copy of the full-detail version of my class roster in the sleeve back-to-back with my seating chart. At a previous school, we knew that some of our students didn’t know their address or contact phone number without having their phones handy to look up the info. If we ever had to evacuate the building, the roster meant that I had all my students’ contact info ready for them.
- I need a better plan for grading quizzes/giving feedback, the way a starving man needs a cheeseburger. I’m open to suggestions. I got nothing.
P. S.: Even still, in teaching and in life, some things can’t be hacked.
And yes, I read Mommy Blogs. Especially Catholic ones. Don’t @ me. Unless you do it as an IFTTT.
This is my small contribution to a larger community of teachers who write, tweet, and share and call themselves the Math-Twitter-Blog-O-Sphere (#MTBoS). In an effort motivated at Twitter Math Camp this summer and boosted by Julie Reulbach, teachers are sharing around a single topic each week. Look for the collection every Sunday under the #SundayFunday or #MTBoS hashtags, or at I Speak Math. And don’t be bashful: there’s a google form there so you can jump in too.