448050911201448 My Super Power: The Queen of Efficient | Polka Dots and Protons - Interactive Science Notebooks & More

My goal is to make interactive science notebooks engaging for 5th grade and middle school science students while improving science test scores. NGSS expert, teacher, tpt author, mom, & widow

My Super Power: The Queen of Efficient

I have a super power. I am super efficient. It keeps me sane and helps me with my work/home/life balance. I would challenge new teachers to get this balance down early in their career. I see many teachers working super late and coming in on weekends. Try really hard to have a healthy balance between work and life...  for you. You will be a better teacher if you have your life in balance.

I like to spend as much of my prep time planning great, engaging lessons. I don't love grading. I also like leaving by 4 pm to head to the gym, make it to Addy's field hockey games, or head home to relax. I do grade when necessary but I make rubrics because I want to be sure I am consistent.

My Queen of Efficient strategies include...

1. Let students know how much I love having help: I bring helpers treats, write passes for them to come in at lunch, and send little thank you notes. I love student helpers. Stapling, paper trimming, cleaning counters are all tasks students can help with.

2. My awesome, customized stamp: I just learned I can re-ink my stamp and I don't have to buy new ones. Awesome!
I purchase my stamps from Vista Print. They are about $20 but I can refresh the ink with ink I buy from Amazon so they last forever!

3. Notebook points sheets to fill out: I don't collect notebooks for a notebook check. Nope. I give a students a paper with the notebook pages listed and if there is a stamp (see customized stamp above), they get 5 points. They add up the points at the bottom and I put it in the grade book. If I catch someone not being honest, then they lose the privilege to doing their notebook check. If the work is done, I stamp it. I don't count it as late until after we have turned in our notebook sheets. Notebooks are what they need for studying so I want them complete.

Interactive Notebook Points Made Easy is FREE. Click HERE

4. Get out a red pen to grade your own paper: Yep, I really do this for quizzes and some tests. I have students put away pencils and get out a red colored pencil or pen to grade. Students put a small star by a correct answer and a line through the number of an incorrect answer.

I teach grades 2-6 science, 6th grade history, and 6-8 grade Code Studio. I would go nuts if I didn't do this. I see all of our 6th graders for science and history. I also teach humanities on Thurs. I get grades in the same day usually. When it is a project or writing assignment, I give myself a week to grade them. I have students put their number on papers and can have a student organize them and pop them in the grade book in minutes. On some of my tests, there are multiple choice and fill in questions on the front and short answer on the back. I have students grade their own front of their paper and I'll grade the short answer.

5. Teaching students to clean up: I purchase a case of baby wipes and we have a student who is the "Microbiologist." The microbiologist's job is to hand out two wipes per table each day. I often ask students to wipe off door knobs and counters also. Before leaving the classroom, I have students look under their desks and pick up. I am constantly reminding students to please push in their chairs and place backpacks under the desks so we don't trip on them. (middle school)

6. Keeping the room organized so I am not spending time looking for materials: Cupboards and drawers are labeled and paper is organized by color. My science materials are so beautifully organized I sometimes want to give tours to the office staff who don't get into classrooms much. They get a change of scenery and you get to show off your organization. I have blue tape marking a drawer where my emergency lesson plan copies are and my emergency lesson plan notebook is always on my desk in case of an emergency. The show can go on.
Actual picture of one of my drawers. I can find just about anything. 

7. Throw it away sometimes- don't tell anyone! Wait until the students have left and toss it. Move on. Sometimes, I save it under my bin of copied work for a bit in case I change my mind. Then, I toss it a week later.

8. Do awesome bulletin boards that you love looking at and then keep them up all year. Use paper that doesn't fade and add student work to one area that you change. It's worth the money!
See more posts on classroom organization HERE

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I challenge you to make efficiency a priority to keep sane. By being efficient, your work/home balance can be healthy and you won't be bring home a ton. I really love spending time on lesson creation and planning so that is where I focus my efforts. Let me know about your journey!