Post 02 – My Teacher Hacks

There’s a community of math teachers on Twitter who are participating in a weekly blogging challenge and this weeks prompt was to write about teacher hacks.  Here’s what I think I do that could be considered hacks; ways that I save time, energy, or resources as a teacher.

1. Optimizing my most productive time of the day

I found that in my late 20’s, I started to become much more of a morning person.  I began waking up at 5am a couple years ago even though I didn’t have to leave my house until 7:30.  After breakfast, some time of prayer and reading some scriptures in the Bible, I would have about an hour and a half to work before I left for school.  I found that I was in a much more focused state of mind to grade papers or do lesson plans than I was later in the day after school.  I try to spend less time in email during that time but I will check it before getting started with work.  I do that mainly because I’m fine answering email later in the day as it doesn’t take much mental focus / energy.

2. Having students do aspects of my job for me

I run a classroom economy where students apply for jobs and then have a salary they use to pay rent on their desk and buy items in a monthly auction (or buy their desk if they don’t want to pay rent anym0re).  When creating the list of jobs, I try to answer the question “what do I do on the regular basis that a student could do?’  I have students who restock classroom supplies, write the agenda on the board, take attendance, grade simple homework assignments, set up my computer at the beginning of class, straighten out the tables before class starts, take photos for our class Instagram, open the blinds at the beginning of the day, and more.  This is especially useful at the start of the day where I can focus on just being present at the entrance of my room to greet each student by name because all the other little tasks of setting up the room are being taken care of.  I’ve put together a PDF that has all the resources I use as well as links to videos where I explain how I set-up and manage the classroom economy.  You can find those resources HERE.

3. Meal prep my lunches

I like not having to spend mental energy everyday trying to figure out what I’m going to eat or hoping there’s some snacks in the teacher’s lounge.  I follow a slow-carb diet and on Sunday I prepare fajita chicken thighs on the grill and portion it out into ziplock bags with broccoli and lentils for the next 2 weeks.  I freeze most of it and take it down a day or so before I’m going to eat it.  I take it in a lunch sack and then cook it on a paper plate in the microwave so I end up not having any dishes or Tupperware to worry about.  I made a video a couple years ago on how I set it all up when I was making a fairly similar lunch.  Students notice the consistency…’chicken and broccoli again huh Thom?’

4. Create more whiteboard space by using windows

Got this idea from another math teacher friend.  If you have the right kind of desks, dry erase markers work well on those too.  Students think it’s fun to write on the windows.

5. Redeem the commute with podcasts

I listen to a variety of podcasts, some educational related.  Makes the commute go by faster and allows me to get ideas for the classroom or just ponder different ideas.  Some favorites educational ones are the EPT Podcast (education, productivity, and technology) and Cult of Pedagogy.  Sone non-ed related ones are The Tim Ferriss Show, Side Hustle School, Hidden Brain, and The Art of Charm.

Do you have any teacher hacks?

By Thom H Gibson

I help middle school STEM teachers create meaningful & memorable experiences for their students. Teacher, podcaster, YouTuber. Two-time teacher of the year

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