Challenge: Paperwork

One of the challenges every teacher faces is the challenge of when and how to complete all the work required to actually teach! Lessons plans need to be written, papers need to be graded, interventions need to be documented, etc. All of these items do not get completed during the contracted school hours of 8:00-3:00. All of these items need to be completed on the teacher’s own time. How do we manage to get everything completed and still have some free time to ourselves? After 5.5 years of trial and error, I think I have come up with the solution for myself. Here’s what I do and I really like my system and schedule.

During the weeknights, I do my grading. I only devote 1.5 hours each night to grading. Any more, and I will go crazy! Plus, I gotta keep up with CSI and Person of Interest!
Friday night or Saturday morning, I get all my lesson plans done for the following week and any other paperwork type stuff that needs to be completed. I do not grade on the weekends.
I used to wait until the last possible moment on Sundays to get my lesson plans written. I found that I was always very stressed on Sundays and then had no down time between work and the school week starting on Mondays.
I like my new system and it is working well for me. I get all schoolwork done first on the weekends and then I have the rest of the weekend to relax, run errands, etc.

Every person is different in terms of handling paperwork, lesson planning, and grading. Maybe you like to stay one night after school and get it all done, so you don’t have to take anything home. Maybe you give yourself a 3 hour block on Sunday mornings to complete your work.
Whatever works for you is great! What I have found to be the most beneficial is to make a schedule and stick to it. You then know what to expect every week and your work gets done!

He do you handle all the work that needs to be completed outside of school hours? Let us know in the comments!

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One thought on “Challenge: Paperwork

  1. Like you, I often feel that I have two jobs rather than just one. First and foremost, I am a teacher. I take my responsibility of leading my students very seriously and work tirelessly to make sure that they are getting my very best everyday. In order to accomplish this, I have to rely on my second job–the dreaded paperwork. As an elementary school teacher, my students are with me in our classroom for more than three-fourths of the school day. I do not have the luxury of a planning period to catch up on paperwork. Almost everything that I do has to be done before or after school hours. For the first five years of my career, I wheeled my rolling cart, bursting at the seems to and from school daily. I would work late, come home, and work more. When I didn’t get to the dreaded rolling box, I would be filled with teacher guilt, thinking that surely my students would suffer because I hadn’t done something, read something, graded something, or planned something. I was worried about paperwork when I was getting it done, and worried about paperwork when I wasn’t getting it done. I attended a staff development training that was given by a motivational speaker who was asking teachers about their struggles. Paperwork, specifically grading, kept coming up as something that was bogging teachers down and tying up time that could be spent doing much more meaningful tasks. Her response to this complaint was this: Stop and think about why you have so much to grade. You only have to grade what you assign. Are there other ways to assess student knowledge besides paper and pencil assessments? I had never really thought about grading from this point of view. Was it, perhaps, MY fault that I had such a huge stack of papers to grade daily? I began to reevaluate and become much more purposeful in the types of assessments that I was giving my students. I began to incorporate the simple use of mini dry erase boards instead of a math book page or worksheet. I had students submit their writing to me via email. I kept documentation of observations, discussions, and other formative assessments in small groups on a clipboard of anecdotal notes and teacher observations. Instead of grading the math worksheet, I walked around and discussed student understanding while they were working and documented my notes on the clipboard check-sheet. I began to assign projects and use a rubric to assess the projects as students or groups presented them to the class. Now, after seven years in the classroom, I use what I like to call “real time grading”. I am often grading while facilitating learning, rather than sitting at home at my kitchen table. If a parent needs to speak with me about a child’s progress, I have daily notes of how the student is doing readily available. When it comes time to decide who needs remediation or enrichment, I have data right at my fingertips to help me place students in appropriate groups. Although there is certainly a time and a place for a paper and pencil assessment, I have found that being intentional in what I assign to monitor student progress has helped me cut down on my outside of school paperwork tremendously.

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