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15 Clever Little Hacks That Teachers Can Use

15 Clever Little Hacks That Teachers Can Use

Teaching is a hard job. After four weeks of it, I now believe that teachers do have special talents. In these four weeks, I delivered interactive workshops to young people across the southwest of the U.K. as a mission for a startup I work for. I came across a lot of what teachers come across every day and have gathered together a list of little hacks to make their jobs a little easier.

1. It’s all in the palms.

One thing that we teach students is body language, and you will be surprised how little tweaks in the way you hold yourself impact you. Your palms can be useful if you direct them towards the people you are talking to. If you keep your hands open with palms down this helps to communicate that you are certain about what you are talking about. You can let your hands speak for you.

2. Get students engaged with technology.

Smartphones and tablets can be useful if used in moderation. We got students engaged with using Google to search for certain things on their smartphones. This went well for the students, as utilizing their web-enabled phones is something that they do in the real world. They need resources at hand, literally. Try starting off with something as simple as suggesting each student research what happened on a particular date. There are many ways to use technology in the classroom, and taking advantage of the technology they have every day (i.e. smartphones) will make a huge impact.

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    3. Keep your tables relevant to your subject.

    You need to keep constant relevance with your work. If you teach science, you need to immerse yourself in science.

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    You need to create table labels with inspirations of that subject. For example, when teacing science you would have famous scientists (Einstein, Newton, Galileo) tables. For business, you would have famous entrepreneurs (Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Jack Dorsey, James Dyson).

    This will help motivate the table to work together and be inspired along the way.

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      4. Always keep time focused, make sure they always see a timer

      With tasks you need to replicate the real world. For tasks greater than 10 minutes, add a timer on the board. This will push them to work towards deadlines. Start this from an early age and it will be very effective for their future. When they are in jobs, they will need to be very time focused. Simply type “Timer” into Google and one will pop-up.

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        5. Rules (hand in the air)

        Hands in the air is a fantastic tool for control. This may sound extremely simple, but being able to plaster your room with the rules can be a small gauge that can have massive impact.

        6. Use PicMonkey.com to create positive posters

        When you assign your students to create a poster or flyer, I would recommend using something a little different that doesn’t limit them. Free tools like PicMonkey can be very effective in coming up with beautiful designs.

        7.  Engage with your parents through email

        Use MailChimp to engage with the parents. MailChimp is a email tool that will allow you to set up a class newsletter. This is a great way to keep updating parents about important dates, homework and details. Many teachers send home notes in folders that can get lost in backpacks, or stuffed in pockets and run through the washer. Ensure the parents get their notes by putting them right in their email inbox.

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          8. Make a student opportunity board

          Organize one side of your wall to be a space for students to collaborate and promote opportunities to each other, like a community board. This will give students the chance to see key opportunities and dates to change their lives. This can also be a great way to engage with motivation posters (if you are so bold).

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          9. Inspire the entrepreneurs–the sweet sellers

          If you find sweets and price tags in a student’s bag, don’t get mad straight away. Instead, call them aside after the lesson and chat with them about how they won’t be able to sell sweets anymore, but they could run a new project/small business of their choice that is within the school boundaries. This will excite them and kick off their entrepreneurial side in a more valuable way.

          10.  Visualize the mission–use cool software

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            There are so many great tools out there where you can visualize and map a class’s progress or the tasks over the week. One that I’ve found success with is Casual. It’s a nifty website that will allow you to organize events, dates and more. Try it out; it will impress you and get you organized.

            11. Use Evernote + their email feature

            Evernote is another one of those cool tools on the web and accessible on smartphones and tablets. Spread the word to your students. This will be a useful center for sending them information to work on and edit right away, like an on-the-go portfolio. See the Emailing guide from Evernote for more information.

            12. Use Noisedown app

            There is an app called Noisedown that helps monitor the decibels (sound) within the room. If the sound goes over its limit, it will alert the class that the noise is getting too loud and that they should lower the volume. It is very interactive for the students, as it becomes a “mini-mission” for them to work together to keep it below the alert tone. The app is free and easy to download.

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            13. Velcro on the carpet

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              I found this tip on BuzzFeed. Velcro on carpets will help to distinguish seating positions, a great and cheap way to keep order. You can also place Velcro on the carpet, have the children stand in a circle, and use different colors to divide the children into groups (all blues together, all greens together, etc.).

              14. Start with a joke

              To help keep your students engaged, get a book of jokes. Read one aloud to your class every morning, or ask for your students to share their (clean and appropriate) jokes. Start the day with laughter and see the results.

              Check out these jokes if you need suggestions: http://www.prongo.com/jokes/index.asp.

              15. End with a quote

              Have a quote book and do the same. This is an awesome way to inspire the students before they head towards home.

              To get you started, here is a great resource for finding inspirational quotes: http://www.inspirational-quotes.info

              Featured photo credit: the map/Sylwia Bartyzel via unsplash.imgix.net

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              Last Updated on May 22, 2019

              Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony

              Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony

              How do you usually go about your day?

              Do you wake up in the morning, get ready for work, and then spend the whole day looking forward to being at home and unwinding?

              We often hear about work life balance – having a good balance between work and personal time. Whilst this may sound like a smart idea, it can also imply that we should dedicate at least half of our time to work–and sacrifice time for our “personal life”.

              To me, that seems…off balance. Because, the truth is, it’s nearly impossible to split your time equally between the two. And, you may end up stressing out if you’re not able to meet that expectation of balance.

              Instead, why not think of having work life harmony instead?

              With this mindset, you can actually integrate work into your life in a way that feels more complete. This way, you don’t need to view work and having personal time as separate.

              So, how do you achieve work life harmony?

              Work Life Harmony Explained

              The difference between work life balance and work life harmony is pretty simple.With the former, there is an implication that you have to sacrifice your “life” for work. But, this is the worst way to go about things! How can you truly be at peace in life if you dread 8 hours of your day?

              Work life harmony on the other hand, allows your work to be a part of your life. This means that you can choose to be happy both at home, and at work! Work no longer needs to be seen as the ‘bad’ or un-fun activity.

              Having work life harmony also ensures you’re truly present in whatever place you find yourself.

              Just take a look at Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon for example.

              He uses a non traditional approach to work by making time for breakfast every morning with his family, doesn’t set his alarm before going to bed, schedules surprisingly few meetings, and still puts aside a few minutes every day to wash his own dishes.

              He believes that all his staff should stop trying to achieve a ‘balance’ in their work and personal lives as that implies a trade off. Instead, he envisions a more holistic relationship between the two.

              As the world’s richest man, he must be doing something right!

              Rethink Time Management

              Now, when we think of striking a balance, we usually associate it with time, don’t we? How much time are we spending at work versus how much time are we spending in our personal lives?Are we taking enough time to be with our loved ones, to do meaningful activities with others or even for ourselves, or are we just dedicating all our time to work?

              This is the so-called-balance that many struggle with.

              With work life harmony, we learn to rethink time management. By re-assessing how you manage your time, you’ll have a lot more of it. It’s incredible how much time can get wasted over the period of a day–especially when you’re not accurately tracking it.

              Unfortunately, unless you’re consciously making an effort, your brain is not always the best at making accurate judgement calls when it comes to prioritizing. It tends to have a bias towards short term benefits and short term costs.

              As there are often many more options our brains link to short term benefit; when you’re trying to focus on a task that gives you a long term benefit, that task usually becomes low priority. This is otherwise known as Priority Chaos.

              In order to overcome this and be in better control of your time, identify the tasks that need the most focus to get accomplished. If it’s a big task, then it’s good to break it down into smaller bite-sized actions that will provide you with a clearer short term benefit.

              When setting up tasks, give yourself a time limit. The brain has a bias towards short term benefits, and your attention span is limited, so if your tasks are going to take ages to complete, you’ll end up losing focus… and wasting time.

              Once you have all your tasks written down, it’s time to prioritize them. Since you have a time limit, your focus should be on the top priority tasks. By doing this, you will already be able to get more done in less time at work!

              Have Passion for What You Do

              Managing your time is important in achieving that work life harmony. But, perhaps of greater importance, is loving what you do in life.One of the most effective ways to achieve a work life harmony is to really enjoy, or find a purpose, in what you do for a living. Even though everyone isn’t always lucky enough to find a position that pays them for pursuing their passion, you can strive to find meaning in what you are already doing, or pursue something new entirely!

              For example, say you work at an office that sells paper. While many people wouldn’t consider this a world changing pursuit, I beg to differ. Think of all the individuals in the world that rely on paper. From creative types to quantum physics experts, your role at your workplace brings incredible value to many many people all over the world. You will have, without a doubt, helped bring a new idea into existence. Several new ideas to be precise.

              So have a think about what you’re doing now. Is it something that allows you to embrace your passion?

              Or perhaps you might not even know what it is that you love or enjoy doing. Why not explore and reflect on what gives you joy and contentment? Is there an area or industry that you could see yourself exploring to experience that fulfillment?

              Can you find a deeper purpose in what you’re already doing?

              When you’re able to find meaning in your work, you’re that much closer to achieving work life harmony.

              Don’t Be Intimidated By Obstacles and Limitations

              Creating work life harmony is also about understanding yourself–which includes your limitations and past obstacles–as this allows you to become more resilient.

              If you never had to experience struggles, challenges or setbacks, then you would never be forced to adapt and mature. So in theory, having to face obstacles in life is actually quite necessary.

              Most of us think of setbacks and obstacles as negative. Though, if you’re able to maintain an optimistic attitude, you’ll almost always have a higher chance of success of overcoming those obstacles to reach your eventual goal.

              Your attitude towards setbacks will define the outcome of whether you rise from the challenge or remain stuck in it. So, in order to achieve work life harmony, it’s important to have a resilient attitude as challenges will always come your way–especially when you strive to integrate work into your life, and not a separate or dominant part of life.

              Delegate When You Need To

              Of course, when you want to increase productivity and minimize the time or effort spent, a great way to do so is to delegate!

              If you spend a lot of time doing tasks on your own that could be delegated to others (whether at work or at home) you’re losing a lot of precious free time that could otherwise be spent elsewhere.

              At the end of the day, we all have a limited amount of time. So we should all be striving to create a harmonious work and living situation where we can find meaning in all that we do.

              While an overall goal may be meaningful, not all of the milestones or tasks needed to get there may be meaningful. That’s because we have our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Not every task is going to be enjoyable or easy to complete. That’s where delegation comes in.

              Delegation simply allows you to leverage time from an external source, thus giving you opportunities to increase your own quality of time. Keep in mind that delegation should be done with deliberate attention, otherwise you may end up over relying on others.

              If you find that you’re running into the problem of over delegating, then it may be time to re-evaluate your motivation for doing whatever it is that you’re doing.

              Embrace the Circle and Become Happier and More Productive

              Living in harmony is about feeling good about the ways in which you spend your time, despite how busy you may be.Your switch from work mode to a more personal mode should be effortless. It’s about integrating your personal life and the things you love into your busy work life!

              It all begins with the shift in perspective. Understanding what your passions are, and learning to be resilient, before taking a different approach to the way you manage your time and everyday tasks.

              These are steps that you can start taking to move away from balance to harmony. 

              Featured photo credit: Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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