Whether you’ve already started school or you are about to start school, feelings of overwhelm are very real. Especially in the early months.

In this blog post, we will discuss two strategies that come from the manufacturing industry that can help you reduce teacher overwhelm and ensure a successful and manageable classroom experience as a secondary teacher.

Strategy 1: Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The first strategy we’ll explore is the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Now, don’t confuse this with the most valuable player!

In manufacturing, MVP refers to having a product that is functional and successful enough to serve its purpose. Without any unnecessary bells and whistles.

As a teacher, your goal is to ensure that your students leave your class equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to progress to the next level.

Think about the essential elements they need to grasp and focus on those.

It’s like having a reliable mode of transportation – whether it’s a skateboard, a scooter, a bicycle, or a car, what matters is that it gets you to your destination.

Similarly, in your teaching, it’s about delivering the core content effectively, without overwhelming yourself or your students.

For example, in an Introduction to Engineering Design class, the main goal may be to teach students the engineering design process.

While there may be other skills you’d like to cover, prioritize the key elements.

By focusing on the core concepts, you ensure that students are well-prepared for the next level.

Building self-efficacy among students is a powerful tool in motivating them to excel. One effective method is to familiarize students with the test format and content.

By practicing the test or offering mock exams, students gain confidence and become comfortable with the exam structure. This practice helps cut the fear of the unknown. And empowers students to believe in their ability to succeed.

Celebrate their progress and remind them that they have the necessary skills to ace the test.

Simplifying and Reducing Overwhelm

By identifying the key aspects of your curriculum and prioritizing them, you can simplify and reduce overwhelm in your classroom.

Create a visual reminder, like a post-it note on your computer, to keep your focus on the end goal.

Letting these minimum viable products guide your planning and assessment will help you streamline your teaching and grading processes.

Strategy 2: The 4S Approach

The second strategy we’ll discuss is based on Lean 5S, but we’ve modified it slightly to fit into 4S. This approach focuses on organizing and simplifying your teaching practices.

  1. Set in order: Lay out the standards and content you’ll be covering. Determine what to keep and what to let go of, based on your previous experiences and the desired outcomes.
  2. Schedule: Develop a clear plan for integrating the content into your teaching schedule, whether it’s for a quarter, a semester, or a year. Ensure that your students have enough time to meet the minimum viable product.
  3. Systemize: Find ways to simplify and automate processes in your classroom. Consider using reusable rubrics or assessment tools that align with the minimum viable product. This familiarity will help students understand expectations and reduce your workload.
  4. Sustain: Continuously evaluate and refine your systems to ensure they are effective and sustainable. Identify what is working well and replicate it. If something needs improvement, make adjustments to enhance efficiency and ease your workload. Remember, the goal is to simplify your life as a teacher and create a healthy work-life balance.


As you embark on a new school year, remember these two strategies to reduce overwhelm and create a successful learning environment.

Focus on the minimum viable product, identifying the essential skills and knowledge your students need. Then implement the Four Ss approach to organize and simplify your teaching practices.

By adopting these strategies, you’ll be able to navigate the challenges of teaching with confidence and enjoy a more balanced lifestyle.

So, take a deep breath, embrace these strategies, and have a fantastic school year!

Useful Links

 Whether you’ve already started school or you are about to start school, feelings of overwhelm are very real. Pretty much from now until October. Today I’m going to be giving you some strategies that come from manufacturing that can help you reduce or strategize or hopefully get rid of the overwhelm by reminding yourself of these practices that work in.

Industry, but that can also work for you as a secondary teacher. Welcome to the Secondary Teacher Podcast, the podcast for middle and high school teachers juggling multiple preps to get the strategies to reduce overwhelm so that you don’t have to choose between being an effective teacher and prioritizing important relationships.

I’m your host, Khristen Massic, a 10-year high school engineering teacher, former middle school assistant principal and teacher coach. Every week we will discuss strategies, systems, and time saving tips to help you not only survive but thrive as a multiple prep teacher. In today’s episode, we are going to highlight two different strategies or methods from manufacturing that are going to help reduce your overwhelm.

The first one, I was debating on what order to put these in, but I decided that the first one is going to be M V P and not for the most valuable player. But the minimum viable product, the idea behind this is to have your students leave your class still successful and proficient to go on to the next class or the next level.

So that’s the broad way of explaining it. Another example that you can find, if you just Google minimum viable product, there is. An image of what it isn’t and what it is not. It is not, when I’m talking about transportation, you need to get somewhere. You need a vehicle. It is not that you’ve got like one wheel and then two wheels, and there’s different steps in the assembly line of a car.

And when does the car become a minimum viable product? Well, it’s when it’s a fully functioning car. Well, your goal is to have some sort of transportation advice. The minimal viable product at that point is something that is going to get you to where you need to go, whether that is a skateboard or a scooter, or a bicycle or or a car.

You are saying that it’s still going to be viable, but it doesn’t really matter the way that you’re doing it. It with that example. Also think that you’re not taking your entire course and you’re leaving out big chunks of it to make it viable. What you’re doing is you’re possibly making it so that it’s a little bit different, or thinking about strategizing things in a different way to make things still viable.

What does this look like? An example could be for my introduction to engineering design class, the idea or the overarching idea, the goal of the class was to teach the students how to use the engineering design process. That was the main goal. If they could leave that class, understanding how to use the process, how to do different iterations, how to improve on their designs, the ideation, the brainstorming.

All of that together was the goal of the class. Now, there were a lot of other things that they had wanted, but if I left any of that out, if I left out some of those skills about possibly using a particular three D drawing software, but I still covered the engineering design process, the students would still be successful in the next level of.

Course.   Now, how does this simplify and reduce your overwhelm? You need to figure out what those key, 1, 2, 3, keep it small. Those. Items, those minimal viable products, that is your class. And you can write it on a post-it note and slap it on your computer and remind yourself every time that you are planning something, that is the end goal.

 And when it came to grading and assessment, use those end goals to drive that grading and that assessment. If your school or your district only requires you to put. A grade into your system once or twice a week, do the minimum. Not saying that you’re not doing your job, but make sure that you’re still being able to collect data on your students.

But you do not need to do more than that. You do not need to put in 10 different things. You do not need to grade and give a mark for every single thing that your students do in class. You really could focus. On those main goals, that minimum viable product that you want students to leave your class with.

And that can be what drives all of your assessment, all of your activities, everything you do in your class. That will be one way to simplify and reduce your overwhelm this year in your classes. Now the next method is based on. Lean five s, and it has to do with organizing, but I’ve modified it slightly because you know, we don’t need an extra step.

But we’re going to call it four Ss. I’ve modified five Ss to fit into four Ss, one less step just because I’ve combined a couple of them. With this is how to get yourself organized. When you’ve decided what your M V P is, now you’re going to use the four s system to make it so that it. Is all functioning.

The first SS is set in order. This is where you figure out, okay, these are the standards. We kind of, we’ve laid it all out. We’ve decided if you’ve taught this before, what are you going to keep? What are you going to get rid of? And you just kinda lay it all out. Then the next one is going to be schedule.

When are you or how are you going to. Fit this content into your schedule, whether it’s a quarter or a semester or a year. How are you going to make sure that your students meet the M V P? Then the next one is systemize. The idea behind systemize is how can you make things simpler for you and your students so that things can pretty much automate themselves?

What systems can you put into place so that things can happen over and over and over again? If we are going back to that engineering design process, could you reuse rubrics for every single project that they did? Because it’s all pointing back to that same M v P. It’s all pointing back to those same proficiency standards for every single assessment, every single project.

Well, now you’ve systemized things. Your students are going to be familiar with that rubric because they’ve seen it. Over and over and over again. They’re also familiar with how you are going to be assessing their project. You can even have them do it. You can have them go through and pre-assess their final project, their.

Assessment and give themselves a score, which would then reduce your workload as well, because you could be skimming over what they’re doing. That is the systemize. And then finally we’ve got sustain. With sustain and systemize, they are very, Closely related, but with sustain, you’re going to take a step back to think, okay, what can I do to continue to simplify my life?

Are there systems that are working really well that could be replicated? Are there systems that need a little bit of tweaking so that you possibly can just fix some things to make them work better? And the overarching goal is to say, sustain you as a teacher and. Also as a person so that you can get your work done during the school day and enjoy your life outside of school.

These are the two methods, theories that I want you to think about this school year and specifically as you are starting school, ways to reduce your feelings of overwhelm. The first is to remind yourself or figure out if you haven’t already, that minimum viable. Product. What is the minimum that your students need to do to show proficiency and how are you going to assess that?

Then use four s to help you figure out how are you going to assess that? How are you going to measure that proficiency and how are you going to make it so your life as a teacher is sustainable?

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