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by Erica Fischer on Mar 31, 2017

The Balancing Act

balancing-actWork-life balance can be a challenge for many World Language teachers. Last week, #langchat participants shared some helpful tools, insights, and experiences that have helped them prioritize their time and make their work more efficient, truly, a balancing act.

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How and When to Make Time to Step Away from Work

It is often difficult to separate work life and personal life, especially for teachers. There are only so many hours in a day, and prioritizing what is important is key to keeping a balanced life. @Marishawkins said, “I think it is good to recognize when you work best- for me it is after my coffee. [There is] no need to try to get a TON done at night.” @profelopez716 shared, “I have gotten better at knowing that not everything has to be done today. The first hour after school is my time to decompress.” Many #langchat teachers “try really hard to keep weekends sacred” (@GrowingFrench). However, if you have to bring work home, setting a strict bedtime can give you “time to unwind”, shared @SrtaOlson. @MlleSulewski added:

And no/minimal work during school breaks. Break is break!

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Maximizing and Organizing Time

It is important to maximize and organize time at work in order to better enjoy time at home or away from school. In order for this to happen, @LauraErinParker “makes a to-do list every night or first thing in the morning.” @MmeBlouwolff stays “away from [the] computer/Internet during prep periods.” Instead, she stays “focused on grading and seeing [students] and colleagues.” @profelopez716 sometimes stays “later on a Friday to not work weekends or comes in earlier in the morning during [the] week.” Time management and using time wisely is not always easy. “Most of the time I close my door and grade/plan in the zone. Sometimes I eat 1/2 my lunch and use lunch as a second planning [period]” shared @profepj3.

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Organizational Systems that Streamline Efficient Work Habits

#Langchat participants discussed the resources and tools that they use in order to stay better organized and create efficient work habits.

  • @SenoraJansen uses “A binder with a section for each of my 7 preps. I plan one at a time, I can’t do the lesson plan books that show everything.”
  • @BThompsonEdu said, “I use @trello to keep track of my to do lists. #googlekeep is [great] for shared lists and notes.”
  • @SraWienhold shared “I try to plan whole units at a time. It saves time from going from one class to the next aimlessly.”
  • SrtaOlson said, “I also love my plain ole paper planner. Scribbling tasks out gives me great joy, and I’m sure to check it frequently.”
  • PRHSspanish often utilizes, “Siri and the [iPhone] calendar app…, creating tasks as appointments. Then no worries.”
  • @profelopez716 “has students organize papers for [him]” instead of having students turn everything in to one basket.

Prioritizing Time Across Multiple Preps and Additional Responsibilities

#Langchat teachers have found creative ways to make prioritizing their time successful. @MmeBlouwolff shared that it is “helpful to have one focus at a time” tonight, she’s “planning for French 7” while tomorrow, she’s “grading French 8.” Giving undivided attention to each class is helpful to staying focused and fully present in the work at hand. @SrtaOlson said “School work = at school, other homework = done at home.” @profelopez716  “uses one of the school planners to keep track of extracurricular events which is separate from my lesson plans.”  PRHSspanish suggested “Choose summatives very selectively, and then grade in chunks, purposefully.” Finally, @Mr_Fernie uses “lots of recycled activities – stories with [the] same framework but different details.” He also admits, “I definitely DON’T grade all work.”

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Helpful No Prep/Low Prep Activities for “Those” Days

#Langchat teachers shared some of their favorite go-to activities and lessons when they are having one of “those” days.

  • @SrtaOlson said, “I feel like running dictations are SUPER low-prep, but also very engaging for [students].”
  • @SenoraJansen enjoys:

    Story trains. Start a story about ANYTHING, pass to the next person after a few minutes; they must continue and so on.

  • @profelopez716 uses “songs or movie talk. They can take all hour if you have the right resources.”
  • @profelopez716 added, “conversation circle days are the best. [Students] choose topic and we just talk. No prep required.”
  • @BThompsonEdu said, “Write about a picture. Tell your partner about a picture, now tell the whole class.”

Thank You

Thank you to our lead moderator, Meredith (@PRHSspanish) and her support moderator Laura (@SraSpanglish) for leading last week’s discussion on balancing work and personal life. Thanks to all who participated and shared their insights and experiences on this subject. Have a topic you’d like to talk about in the future? Check out the #langchat wiki and suggest a topic!


Elementary in Spanish
Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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