Teachers, have you ever wished you had a secretary? Someone to send and answer emails, format your SGOs, PDPs, and LPs? Someone to make your copies, put up your bulletin boards, file your papers, maintain your materials, download updates onto your computer, put in tech requests, hang your posters, laminate your anchor charts, plug your grades into the grade book, type up and send out the minutes from your PLC meetings, take messages from parents, set up parent teacher conference times, coordinate field trip schedules and transportation, administer standardized tests, collect student data, clean and reorganize your classroom at the end of the day, take attendance, keep track of weekly, monthly, quarterly, and semester attendance logs, organize absentee work, follow up on class cuts, write up referrals, put in daily announcements to the office, write out book receipts, check your voicemail…
Yes! That would be perfect!
And after all of that is taken care of you can grade papers, create and write lessons, analyze data, talk with parents, participate in professional development, build relationships with your students—and of course—teach!
But, it’s never going to happen. Teachers will never have secretaries, and will go on having to do the above tasks regardless of the fact that they have very little to do with direct interaction with students. But this is the reality of what teachers do every day and here are some suggestions concerning how to combat all the paper work teachers encounter regularly. Below are a few things teachers can do to make life easier since they don’t have—and will never have—a secretary.
- Save electronic copies of everything from year to year. Then, replace what you did last year with new material so formatting stays the same. The same goes for referrals, announcements, and book receipts. Type in all the information that does not change, print out the documents, then write in new information; that way, half the work is already done.
- Make copies early in the morning or after school. Give up some time to make life a little less stressful. Or, buddy up with another teacher and share the copying as well as the great worksheets and lessons being copied.
- Have your students make a bulletin board that interests them, or give them your idea and have them run with it. Make it part of your class. Early finishers can help during the day and students staying after school for after care, detention, or extra help can assist too. The same goes for filing papers, maintaining materials, hanging posters, and cleaning and reorganizing the classroom (which students can also do right before they leave your room).
- Install downloads on your computer at the end of the day, then restart the device before you leave for the day. Updates will be ready to go the next morning.
- Tech requests only take a moment. Keep them short and sweet. The tech guys like that.
- Putting grades into the grade book can be tedious sometimes, but try to keep up with it two or three times a week. (Some teachers even input grades at the end of every day.) Then it doesn’t seem so arduous. Plus, view this as a professional development opportunity. Look at the data you are collecting and make some quick analyses about it.
- All teachers share recording responsibilities at meetings. Take handwritten notes and take a picture of them. Then text or email them out to your colleagues. No need to type them up again.
- Voicemails, messages, and parent-teacher conferences are unavoidable—and necessary. Here is how to make it easier. Send emails or make phone calls frequently to those parents who need it. If something important, pressing, or serious comes up and a conference is needed, ask your principal or VP to set up an appointment so all parties can talk.
- Take attendance during the Do Now on a clipboard as you walk around. Greet each student and mark them present after you have spoken to them. That way you have interacted with each of them, offered help if it is needed, and you have taken attendance. Keep a written record or an electronic record. Save all work.
- An extra papers basket is great for students who were absent. So are folders categorized by day or period. Put extra copies into these folders and have students get the copies they need when they come back.
- Following up on class cuts or students who were absent is just a part of the job. Do your best to fit it in. You’re ultimately helping the student by finding out why they are cutting your class and you can hopefully come to a solution.
- Proctoring standardized tests is tough. You can’t do work, catch up on anything, use your computer or your smart phone. Take the time then to see what each student is doing. Look for general strengths and weaknesses and use that information to inform your practice.
- Field trip coordination is time consuming, but for this one…just do it. The ends will justify the means.
Teachers will always be inundated with work. In fact, most working adults are swamped with tasks that do not necessarily relate to their career of choice, but, remember, those duties are all part of the job. As long as teachers remember that everything they do is for their students—even menial tasks that seem to have little meaning—it makes life a bit easier. You are here to teach, teachers. And teach you will. Because you love it. We all know you do.