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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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      Screenshot 2014-09-20 at 13.21.28

        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

          Screenshot 2014-09-22 at 22.33.25

            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 September 30, 2020

              Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

              Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

              When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

              Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

              Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.

              Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

              Effective vs Efficient

              Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”[1]

              A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

              Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

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              The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

              Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.

              When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

              Effectiveness in Success and Productivity

              Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect[2]. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.

              The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

              If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

              When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

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              • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
              • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
              • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

              Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.

              Efficiency in Success and Productivity

              Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.

              When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways[3]. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.

              Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.

              The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.

              If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.

              Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

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              The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

              Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

              Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.

              If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.

              It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

              Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

              Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

              Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

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              By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.

              It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

              Bottom Line

              Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

              • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
              • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
              • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

              And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.

              More on How to Improve Productivity

              Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Merriam-Webster: effective and efficient
              [2] Mind Tools: Being Effective at Work
              [3] Inc.: 8 Things Really Efficient People Do

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