Sick Days, Mental Health Days, and Making Life Easier (Episode 60)

      Today, we’re back with our series How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again gonna crack open the topic of Pre-Sick Days and discuss how teachers should use them.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/62HXRz_L8xA
Today, we’re back with our series How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again gonna crack open the topic of Pre-Sick Days and discuss how teachers should use them.       How many sick days does your school give you this year?
       How many personal days?
       How many do they make you pay for?
       How many have you used?
       How many did you use last year?
       What did you use them for?
       Are you saving them all up for the end of your teaching career and retirement?
       Of course, they're called sick days for a reason, so you want to make sure you have enough of those when you need them. But we want to add a layer of ideas to the topic of sick days.
       My thoughts on this started one day when someone cracked a joke and said she was going to take a “mental health day.” I laughed, of course, but then got to thinking how great an idea that sounded.
       This idea might be something you already think about or it might be brand new. What do you think about using your sick days before you actually get sick so that maybe you won't get sick or worn down?
       1st, let's get all the talk about retirement and maternity leave out of the way.
       In some states, you're unused sick days add up, and there's an incentive to not use them so they add up as paid retirement days or extra years on your years of service. If that's your goal, that totally makes sense. In this increasingly tough national teaching environment, we would ask you to consider if feeling less stressed and more rested might actually prevent burnout and get you closer to retirement?
       And if you're planning on having a child, take that into consideration for maternity or paternity leave.
       And now that you've thought about all that, then let's dive in.  
PLANNING
       Ever feel like you're behind on your planning and it's wearing down your soul? Before you get actually sick, why not take a day every other month to plan ahead. Take 1-2 hours and reflect on the past weeks and how effective they've been. Make notes for next year. Take 1-2 hours to plan the upcoming months. Or if you did this last year, you get to upgrade last year’s plan. You might even pick some strategic spots in the year schedule for this planning day, so it can get you through the next part of the year. 
GRADING       ...the never-ending monster! What if you planned 1 day a quarter for catching up on and organizing your grading and grades? Think about what that would do for your mental health and stress. But seriously, can we zoom out for a second on that? We're learning more and more that mental health is not just mental … IT IS physical health. No longer do we have to smirk and crack a joke about “mental health days” or “mental sick days.” Mental health and sick = health and sick. So if we're stressed over how far behind we are, we aren't well. For reals! So don't feel bad about getting healthy and getting caught up.  
R & R
       Invest 1-2 days a year into preventative health. Relax. Explore. Adventure. Connect. Go to the beach, mountains, mall, lake, amusement park. If you have personal days too, combine them together next to a 4-day weekend and take a trip. We took a whole week off at the end of Christmas and went to China for 2 weeks. Sure, I had to talk with my principal, make sure it was a good time of year, assure them I had great lesson plans and a solid sub, but then they were fine with it and I came back rejuvenated instead of exhausted. And sure, you've gotta really make sure those bases are covered so they'll say yes again next time, but don't be afraid to stand up for your health and use those days.
LESSON PLANS
       And for those 1-day absences, now that we're thinking strategic about our health days, here are 2 ideas:
  1. Develop purposeful, helpful activities that fit into your standards and can be executed by any substitute teacher. Then you don't have to feel bad or fearful that your absence will be wasted.
  2. Purchase some useful lesson plans and resources that would fit those spots in your curriculum. Websites like www.TeachersPayTeachers.com can be super helpful for this.
       Hopefully this helps take you further into the conversation of how to keep yourselves healthy and peaceful in the long term. Now go take some practical steps toward using your Pre-Sick Days, so you can work toward health and balance.
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
Today, we're gonna crack open the topic of Pre-Sick Days and discuss how teachers should use them.

Rethink Your Commute for Peace & Efficiency (Episode 59)

      Today, we’re back with our series How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again going to get real practical about using our commute time to make our day more peaceful and efficient.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/62HXRz_L8xA
Today, we’re going to get real practical about using our commute time to make our day more peaceful and efficient.
       I know mornings can feel rough. Many days, our hugest success feels like simply leaving the house with all our clothes on. But once we're in the car, we’ve got a chunk of time to do something with. Let’s talk about how to use that time to really make an impact on the rest of our day.
       You gotta get to work somehow: car, train, subway, bus, bike, walk, carpool. You have some amount of time it takes to commute. Don't underestimate the value of this time. And don't think it's not enough time to really make an impact. It can be huge.
       Instead of just vegging out or letting that time happen to us, let's talk about ways to repurpose our commutes for peace and efficiency.
  • Pensieve & efficiency planning
  • Soul Care, meditation, music, & Audiobooks
  • Relational phone calls … Phone Errands
       Everyone is going to use this time. But now you're going to repurpose it to make a difference.
       Your 1st step might be to use your next drive to brainstorm ideas that you could use your drive for. Get them all out. Then next drive come up with a plan. Put it in order, then hold loosely to it. Write it on a notecard and keep it visible in your car, so you see it every drive. Be interruptible for life, of course, but now that you have a plan, you’ll know what to do next each day.
       Then put it into plan and get started reclaiming this time to have more peace and efficiency.
       Conversation of the Day: What is something you could do during your drive to work that could make your day more peaceful or efficient?
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
Today, we’re going to get real practical about using our commute time to make our day more peaceful and efficient.

Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)

      Today, we’re back with our series How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again, and we're going to explore how using the Element of Surprise … and the Fear of Missing Out … can help your classroom management.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/RoNGrAal77I
Today, we’re going to explore how using the Element of Surprise … and the Fear of Missing Out … can help your classroom management.
       Classroom management … it’s kind of this nebulous thing, right? Let’s break it down real quick. What goes into managing our classrooms?
  • Getting our students learning.
  • Engaging their minds and passions
  • Running things efficiently
  • Keeping them out of trouble
       So of course our students need to feel comfortable with lots of our consistent procedures. Those are vital. But then there’s all the ways we engage their minds in the midst of all those classroom systems. That’s where we either get creative or get boring.
       So our topic today helps with all four of these. We want to explore how to be predictably unpredictable ... NOT predictably predictable.
       Sounds confusing … predictably unpredictable. Let’s go deeper. There are a couple of levels to this.
  1. Our students know what to expect from ANY ordinary classroom lesson. They’ve seen a lot of them.
  2. They know what to expect from YOUR ordinary classroom lesson.
  3. The question is … What do they expect from yours?
       Think of it this way … Imagine you walk into class tomorrow and tell your students you are going to learn about nouns. Then ask them how they think you’ll teach it. What tools will you use? What methods? That’s the default you’ve been creating. That’s what they expect.
       Then ask yourself … are they ever expecting anything surprising from you? Any spontaneity? Do they have to pay attention for fear they’ll miss out on something interesting?
       Some TV examples, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert are masters at this. There’s a huge element to their shows that you never know what you’re going to get next. But you know that every time you watch them you’re going to not know what will happen. You know that at a couple of key moments they’ll be unpredictable. It’s predictable that they’ll be unpredictable.
       And you don’t want to miss out. They have our attention. We can build that element into our classroom environments. Not only can our content be surprising (e.g. Grammar Ninja) but so can the delivery.
       Students will be engaged, and even the troublemakers won’t feel as much desire to cause trouble. This will help things go more efficiently and will create an environment more passionate about learning. It helps with all 4 areas of classroom management.
       So let’s look at some real classroom examples … let’s take a few standards and brainstorm how to be unpredictable and surprising.
       How about in grammar? Nouns. We all know how to teach a predictable lesson on nouns. The students know exactly what that looks like. So what if you started out with the expected worksheet, bookwork, or PowerPoints … whatever they expect from you.
       Then give them a surprising location or situation and have them brainstorm interesting nouns in that place.
       Or take them safely outside and have them find the most interesting nouns of each category.
       All students are likely to be more engaged and processing what they already learned.
       We could be similarly unpredictable while teaching Prepositions. What if instead of describing what prepositions are, you acted them out. And not just acting them out with an object and an object. You put yourself in the locations compared to something. And what if you planned ahead and didn’t just compare your location to a desk, which is predictable. What if you busted out a beach chair? Or a giant stuffed animal from the county fair? Or a big trash can (use a clean one!)? Take every element of the lesson and make it surprising. The students won’t want to miss out.
Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)

       Or what if you’re teaching shapes? You could bring in surprising objects that have shapes. You could take pictures of surprising objects all around your local town that students will recognize. You could even have them with an assignment to take their own pictures of surprising objects around their neighborhood or at school that have all the shapes they’re learning. This could be for young learners or even in secondary level Geometry as they’re learning the different proofs for circles and rhombuses and all that.
       I love what our friend Luke at Students of History is doing. He’s taking his own fun field trips on weekends and filming himself at various historical landmarks and battlefields and giving tours for his students. Then as they learn those topics year after year, it’s surprising and cool to see those locations with, not some random outside person, but with their very own teacher! This is riveting, engaging, and surprising. It shows his street cred and is a creative way to deliver the content instead of him just talking about it that day.
Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)
       And as he does that enough in various different ways, he builds a classroom environment where his students can predict that he’ll be unpredictable.
       Conversation of the Day: Take a second look at a topic you’re teaching this week and share a way you can teach an element of that lesson in an unpredictable way.
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
Today, we’re going to explore how using the Element of Surprise … and the Fear of Missing Out … can help your classroom management.

7 Ways Grammar Ninjas Are Better than Boring Grammar (Episode 55)

       You might not have heard of the Grammar Ninjas yet, but they’ve heard of you. And they’ve been watching you. Cause they’re ninjas! Today, we’re gonna talk about 7 Ways the Grammar Ninjas are better than boring grammar.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/gtsAXMeVsV8
 You might not have heard of the Grammar Ninjas yet, but they’ve heard of you. And they’ve been watching you. Cause they’re ninjas! Today, we’re gonna talk about 7 Ways the Grammar Ninjas are better than boring grammar.       First off, what are the Grammar Ninjas?
       They are a bunch of grammar lessons I created and used in my middle school classrooms to make grammar fun. I was tired of how repetitive grammar can get and how unengaging the topics are, so I decided I wanted something different. And I especially wanted to engage boys, so I thought, What’s better than ninjas!?!
       And I remember when Jonathan first came home after teaching these with your students … how excited he was.

       So let’s get into the 7 Ways the Grammar Ninjas are better than boring grammar!
  You might not have heard of the Grammar Ninjas yet, but they’ve heard of you. And they’ve been watching you. Cause they’re ninjas! Today, we’re gonna talk about 7 Ways the Grammar Ninjas are better than boring grammar.

       The Grammar Ninjas are fun. Students love them because they’re so different from any grammar lesson they’ve ever done before. Different is good, especially when it’s quality!

       The Grammar Ninjas know their English standards like the blades on their katanas. They do. Whether it’s Parts of Speech, Commas, Subjects and Verbs or any other grammar topic, the ninjas make sure learners have all the nuances covered.

       The Grammar Ninjas will still let you use your boring grammar books. Jonathan used them every year in his classes. They’re useful … they are. But let’s not kid ourselves about their boredom level. The Ninjas are great supplemental resources to fix all that boredom stuff.

       The Grammar Ninjas are cheesy … and awesome. The humor just keeps coming. Boys and girls alike love to laugh while doing their grammar learning. There are so many jokes mixed in about ninjas that students will be rolling their eyes and still begging for more.

       The Grammar Ninjas go deeper into ninja history and legends. We talk about the famous ninjas, the infamous ones, the legendary stories, the connection to samurai, the historical wars, and the creative tools they used to be so sneaky. Students love learning this new info.

       The Grammar Ninjas tell creative stories about made-up ninjas in ancient and modern contexts. Learners love reading stories, especially about ninjas, which then helps them have fun learning the grammar we’ve attached to the stories.

       The Grammar Ninjas are done for you. As former teachers, we know how much time we spend on planning and making learning interesting, so we know how much time these will save you. And we’re going to be developing a lot more of these in the future, so let us know what you wish you could have.

       Explore all these different ways to invite the Ninjas into your classrooms.
       Conversation of the Day:What grammar topic do you wish you had non-boring resources to use with your students?
You might not have heard of the Grammar Ninjas yet, but they’ve heard of you. And they’ve been watching you. Cause they’re ninjas. Today, we’re gonna talk about 7 Ways the Grammar Ninjas are better than boring grammar.
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
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