As difficult as the past few years have been for teachers—requiring them to juggle the dual responsibilities of staying safe and digitizing school—they may have just paved a path to the future of education. What began as a necessity has evolved into a remarkable opportunity. When properly implemented, this ‘new normal’ can actually reduce teacher stress, make lessons easier, and breathe life back into our education system. Here are a few handy back-to-school life hacks to help you make the most of the changes:
1. Use the PDSA method
PDSA stands for “Plan, Do, Study, Act,” and is a four-step process designed to effectively implement improvements. It can be applied to anything, but definitely holds merit for teachers seeking a more efficient, streamlined way of dealing with their new normal. PDSA can be readily tailored to unique teaching methods and is broken down into the following steps:
- Plan. Addressing the issue starts with a viable plan, which should include both a stated, measurable goal and concrete steps to reach it.
- Do. Execute the plan as you have written it. As you do so, observe how well or how poorly each step works and be prepared to course-correct accordingly.
- Study. Once your plan has been implemented, take time to analyze the results. What went right and what went wrong? How close did the plan get you to your goals? What more needs to happen to achieve them fully? Be as honest and as accurate as possible.
- Act. Having made your assessment of the entire cycle, ask yourself how you’re going to improve upon it moving forward. For teachers, that usually entails implementing changes in the new semester and then repeating the cycle as needed—improving it along the way.
2. Keep everything organized
Like most educators out there, you probably have a lot on your plate. Between administration responsibilities, your classes and students, your home life, and any extracurricular school activities you may be in charge of, keeping everything organized can impose loads of stress. Organizing your tasks by priority and due date, and using a calendar to manage your time, can be an effective way to stay on top of things.
Power tip: Tasks in Evernote is a great resource to help you organize and keep track of the various projects in your life. Evernote also integrates seamlessly with Google Calendar, allowing you to link notes with calendar events to remain balanced and on schedule.
3. Health is wealth—pre-plan your meals
Developing a meal plan sounds simple, yet it can work wonders in alleviating the stress of busy educators. A packed schedule often means eating on-the-fly at unexpected times. That can even spill over into your home life if school activities extend into the evening. The solution is to develop a meal plan that accommodates the specific needs of your schedule. This plan should include snack breaks and home-cooked meals to promote health. To stimulate the minds of your students, you must first nourish your own!
Power tip: Besides allowing you to schedule meal breaks and set reminders to eat, Evernote lets you clip online recipes, articles, and even screen captures to help you find meals you’ll love in a pinch.
4. Take it slow and easy
Settling into school life after such a turbulent period can be a lot, for both students and teachers. To ease the transition, teachers can create micro-goals for themselves and their students. These include things like locating classrooms, learning names, and developing new class routines. Taking it slowly not only helps lower teacher stress but also gives the students the space they need to process the changes. It also allows you to take a look at how given students are reacting, and give additional attention to those who need it.
5. Create a checklist
Summer has a way of flying by, and sometimes it seems like you’ve ended one semester only to turn around and see a new term staring you in the face. But this quick change also poses an opportunity to take a breath and envision how you would like the coming school year to go. Making a checklist of the things you may need to prepare for—and various ways to address them—can offer guidance and structure. It may include things like:
- Updates to the latest school guidelines and safety information to keep parents informed.
- Cleaning and disinfecting schedules for your classrooms and other pertinent areas.
- A checklist for monitoring students’ health, including what to do if signs of sickness appear.
- Watching for signs of bullying and ostracization of students.
Power tip: Evernote is an excellent resource for checklists of all varieties—enabling you to integrate them with other features and make checklists part of your daily routine. With Evernote, you can coordinate all of your checklists and reduce teacher stress.
Move forward with optimism
The new school year is sure to bring unexpected challenges, especially as teachers and students settle into new routines. Let Evernote keep track of the logistics, so you can focus on educating the minds of tomorrow.
With Evernote, you can streamline your checklists, make notes, and save useful web pages. You can even integrate it with Google Calendar, so all your information is stored in one place, readily accessible on any device. The future holds real opportunities for educators—let Evernote help you approach it with optimism, organization, and, most importantly, less stress.