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reduce-teacher-stress

Teaching multiple preps in secondary education can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to planning. As a teacher myself, I’ve been in those faculty meetings where complaints about single preps seem almost surreal. We get it; our workload is different. Today, let’s explore practical strategies to ease the planning stress unique to secondary career and technical education teachers.

1. Create a Flexible Planning Framework

Be Prepared to Be Flexible

Planning is crucial, but flexibility is the key. Knowing your curriculum, having a clear idea of unit structures, and utilizing a curriculum app are essential. Flexibility doesn’t mean unpredictable teaching; it’s about adapting to bad days, stressful seasons, or unexpected challenges.

Master the Art of Time Blocking

Secondary teachers are natural time blockers during class periods. Take it further by breaking down class time into smaller, flexible chunks. This approach allows you to swap activities on the fly, ensuring adaptability to varying learning paces.

2. Delegate and Empower

Shift the Workload to Students

Consider empowering your students by involving them in the note-taking process. Instead of creating resources from scratch every time, encourage students to take the lead. This not only saves you time but also enhances their critical thinking skills.

Establish Predictable Protocols

Create consistent protocols for certain activities. For instance, have students create notes or quizzes based on your materials. This predictability streamlines your planning process while maintaining instructional quality.

3. Manage Your Stress Beyond Planning

Prioritize Your Well-Being

Recognize that stress extends beyond planning. Practice mindfulness and breathing techniques between classes. Accept that not everything on your to-do list will be completed, and that’s okay. Embrace breaks during the day, implementing methods like the Pomodoro technique for focused work.

Transition Mindfully

Use your commute or any quiet moments to transition from work to home. Even a few minutes of silence can help decompress and create a mental boundary between your professional and personal life.

Conclusion

Teaching multiple preps can be challenging, but with a flexible planning framework, strategic delegation, and mindful stress management, you can find balance. Remember, it’s not about eliminating stress entirely but finding sustainable ways to navigate it. By implementing these strategies, you’ll empower yourself to thrive as a secondary multiple prep teacher.

Let’s not sugarcoat it. Being a multiple prep teacher causes a lot of stress, like additional stress. I remember sitting in faculty meetings and hearing teachers complain about their single prep and almost like transporting myself into another world thinking Is this real? Like, they’re complaining about, sure, they have the same amount of students as I do, but I have to figure out, like, what to teach, and they’re very different subjects.

, yes, you may have a lot of papers to grade, but I also have assignments to grade. In addition to figuring out what in the world I’m going to be teaching these students. Today we’re going to be talking about how to overcome some of that planning stress as a multiple prep secondary teacher.

The first thing we’re going to be talking about is creating a flexible planning framework. There are some things that go along with this, and in order to be flexible, you do have to be prepared. To be flexible, you do need to know where you’re going. You do need to have an idea of what you’re going to be teaching from unit to unit and the order. you do need to have a curriculum app. You do need to know where you’re going.

When we’re talking about flexibility, it’s not that you are just feeling like, Oh, today we’re going to watch a video. That’s not where we’re talking about flexibility. We’re talking about making it so that if you’ve had a bad day, a bad night, if you’re, you Your season is just where you are.

If you have a certain time of the year that is just more stressful than others, you can be flexible in how you do things. One of the ways that I love to do this, that I teach in the Multiple Prep Teacher Academy, is to think about time blocking. And beyond time blocking, we are masters of time blocking without really realizing it because as a secondary teacher, we are on class periods and so you do work in chunks like 45 minutes or 86 minutes or however long your class periods are.

You are used to time blocking starting and ending at a particular time, but sometimes we forget about it. the fact that you can actually time block within those class periods. So you could have your bell ringer takes five minutes and then this takes 10 minutes and this takes 15 minutes but   📍 📍 being able to think about things in more of a micro scale makes it so you can be more flexible because you can have things at the ready for if something went too fast or too slow you can easily swap things out.

 So instead of looking at your entire class period as a whole, think of it as smaller chunks. And then with that, the flexibility also comes in, you can have

various protocols or activities or things that you can sneak in there and you can have those kind of in your toolbox of things that you can use. If you don’t use all the time or if you’re really tired and you’d really rather not stand up in front of the class for the entire class period, you use something else.

You figure out ways to be flexible with your planning so that you can easily Kind of move things in and out and you can adapt things on the fly. So you will find that as much as I wish, I wish, I really wish every single class period learned at the same pace because man that would make things really.

Easy! But unfortunately, you have different personalities, you have different learning styles, you’ve got students who have different needs in different class periods, and so some class periods are going to take longer than others to learn concepts. So really having those quick, like, 15 minute, and they could be activities that are, they could be games.

I love games. Games is like my favorite. favorite thing so even with like some of the things that I have in my tbt store as far as mash or Would you rather like being able to have those kind of items on the fly and this class period uses it but this class period doesn’t because we ran out of time Those are the things that really made the stress level decrease because I always knew that I had something ready to go.

The next thing that I want to hit on, specifically as a secondary teacher, is as you are planning, think about what the What things need to be done by you versus what could be done by others? You could save a lot of time depending on what you’re doing if you are needing to create or wanting to create a resource for students to take notes.

You need to think about, is that really necessary? First off, could you use some sort of graphical organizer that’s already out there? Could you train students to take notes using Cornell notes and then that’s always how it’s done? So you don’t have to think about that every single time. Or, could you get a little bit creative and could you make the students do the work?

That requires that they are doing more of the thinking. Maybe you’ve given them your slides and you’re saying, hey, here’s the slides. slide deck if you were to teach it, come up with a note taking guide. So now they’re really having to think about what is important, what’s not important, how would they prioritize that, how would they make the notes.

It’s just that higher level thinking. What are some of those things that you might be able to do that you are totally capable of doing? Would take a lot of your time. Could cause you some stress, but that you could turn around to your students. Now, you will have to practice this. Maybe there’s just certain things that you have them do every single time.

So it is like a, a protocol or procedure that you have them do, and they’re just used to doing that. Every time you do this certain activity, you’re going to have them create the notes to go along with it, or they will always be creating a quiz based on What you present to them that just makes it predictable for you It’s predictable for your students and then you also can maintain that quality But yet you can be more efficient because you don’t have to plan every single time a different protocol or what will this look like in this instance because you’ve already trained your students.

The last thing that I want to talk about when it comes to stress is there’s a lot more to stress. I feel like we have been talking a lot more about this in the educational world, especially with wellness and burnout, but then with our students with like social emotional learning. So there are things that you can do to help overcome this planning stress.

The first one is to have your ducks in a row before. I already mentioned that. But then there are some other things too. Just with breathing, taking some time to breathe between your class periods as you’re having students enter in. And you’re just kind of like re grounding and regrouping between each class period.

Also, be aware that you will always have things on your to do list and it’s okay to leave them undone. I think that’s a really freeing mindset shift just to know that there will always be things to be done and it is okay to leave things on your list of things to do. And Quite honestly, there are things that will be on your to do list that you will never get done, and it’s okay.

It’s totally okay. So think about that, kind of shift that mindset, thinking, I can have a list, but it’s okay if I leave at the end of the school day and don’t have a complete. Totally okay. Then just being able to give yourself breaks throughout the day as well, whether you’re using something like the Pomodoro method where you’re really focusing on something for 25 minutes and then you give yourself a 5 minute break.

And you go back to 25 minutes and a 5 minute break. And you’re really being mindful about how you’re using that 5 minutes. Your 5 minutes is not being spent Checking your emails because that’s going to be adding more to your list. It’s really being mindful. You’re walking around. Maybe you’re taking deep breaths.

Maybe you are going online and just searching for things that you enjoy and you are using that time for you. Another thing that I always liked to do was, even if my commute home was only five or ten minutes, I would go home in silence. And so I would use that time and actually, in hindsight, it was better for me when I had a longer commute because I would have a longer time to decompress, but I was able to use that time.

So before I got home and was able to pick up my kids and there’s the stress. all of that, I was able to really like let things go and just kind of like make that transition from school to home.

We went over some ideas to help you overcome your planning stress. The first thing that we talked about was having a planning framework that is flexible.

Coming up with small plans, small things, thinking about How you can chunk your class period itself so that it is a bunch of mini lessons that you can pull in and out. Based on how you are feeling that day, how your students are doing, and just a whole different things to make things flexible. The next thing was delegating.

What are some things that you are doing That are requiring you to do a lot of work that maybe you could pass off to your students. There are things that you can have them do. And it could be as simple as using the same protocol for every single one of your lessons. So anytime you are doing direct instruction, they are going to be doing this.

And everybody knows. That’s what’s going to be happening. And so that takes a lot of stress away from you and also from them. And then we talked about some of the mental health things that you can do like regrouping, breathing, taking breaks so that you can be doing things throughout the day. That will help combat those stress levels that have to do with other things besides planning itself.

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