Ask any non-teacher what teachers do when we aren’t teaching and they will likely imagine a teacher, red pen in hand, busily editing and marking papers at their desk. As a second grade teacher I do, unfortunately, occasionally find myself in that very position– but the vast majority of my planning time is spent in on very different endeavors. Here’s a list of the top 6 teacher tasks that we find ourselves doing between student contact hours.
1. Researching ideas online
One of the benefits teaching in the 21st century is that sharing ideas among teachers is incredibly easy. Type “fun way to teach fractions” into Google and you will be met with a huge number of ideas everywhere from companies trying to sell their products, to free websites, to teachers’ blogs. While helpful, this can also be overwhelming. We sometimes spend large amounts of time reading and searching through websites trying find which ideas will actually work for our classes.
We also spend time browsing twitter, Facebook and teacher blogs just to reading through what others are doing in hopes of finding inspiration and (of course) also writing to contribute to our professional learning environment.
2. Playing with apps/websites
Once we’ve found testimonials on how well an app or website will work, we have to thoroughly test it out. There is nothing worsethan starting out with a great lesson plan and bombing the lesson due to a technology error. We have to play with it enough to know (1) that it is appropriate for our students’ age and ability level, (2) what we need to go over beforehand to make sure they will be successful, and (3) how we can trouble-shoot if and when something goes awry.
3. Creating games and activities
Providing students with engaging games and activities is crucial to learning – especially in elementary school. Often I have the perfect idea for how my students could practice a new strategy or skill and it doesn’t exist yet – so I make it. I’ve put some of the activities I’ve made on TeachersPayTeachers, because I’ve taken so much from others and I hope I can give back a little!
4. Interacting with students online
Another benefit of technology is that it allows us to communicate with our students when we aren’t physically with them. The main way I do this is through comments on my students’ work on Seesaw. Class discussions and questions can also take place for older students (like my husband’s class) on a variety of formats, such as Edmodo or Moodle.
5. On the beach reading piles of children’s books
One of the biggest jobs of a teacher is to turn kids into lifelong readers. Each child has different interests and they need to find books that fit them in order to learn gain that love of reading. And, since it is difficult to recommend books we haven’t read ourselves, this means reading stacks of children’s books on vacations.
6. In the midst of some messy project
Projects are fun – especially messy ones! However, you shouldn’t trust everything you read on the Internet, and that also goes for activity ideas. To make sure that the steps and materials will actually work before all of my students get their little hands on it, I have to do it myself. Above is some Christmas paper I made in my kitchen.