Teacher Hacks for When You're Tired

Too Tired to Teach?

It happens to the best of us.

We all have those days where we stay up too late grading papers, planning fun lessons for the next day, organizing materials for science experiments (or binge watching your favorite show on Netflix). Then you pay for it the next day when you have to be "on" all day but you can barely keep your eyes open. When I'm tired like that I always end up with a headache too which makes it even harder to get up in front of a group of little people and teach.

These tips also work for when you're sick and you need to plan your day for a sub. When you're suddenly sick at 4AM there's nothing worse than trying to plan full lessons for someone else to teach. You can use a few of these ideas to throw into your sub plans.

Some of these tips may be old hat to you seasoned teachers but read them anyway as a reminder to yourself that it's okay to plan activities where you are hands off. In fact, a lot of my teaching style is hands off and inquiry based (led by student's interests). 

Teacher Hacks for When You're Too Tired to Teach:

- LOTS of coffee!! Or your favorite caffeinated beverage of choice.

-Also LOTS of water. Staying hydrated will help you feel more awake (though you will have to pee more which is challenging in our line of work).

-Do all of your prep work for the day (and the next day if you can) first thing in the morning. As the day goes on you will have less and less energy so if you get it all done right away you can coast through the rest of the day.

-Keep a short list of educational movies on hand that fit with a variety of subjects (just be sure not to nod off during the movie). When the movie is done have students write down 3 things that they learned from the movie. Then spend some time having students share the things they learned.

-Keep a stash of ready made activities that will keep your students busy, quiet and still have educational value. I tend to do a little more word work on these days where students can be independent. I like using my Fix the Sentence Word work because it has QR codes so students can self-check their work.

-I have bell work or morning work prepped all the time. Students do this when they first arrive in the morning. I find having this routine in place really helps when I'm extra tired or not feeling well. Students know what to do and can get started independently. I have various grade levels prepped so that my students who are working below grade level get their own differentiated set.

-If you have access to technology you can give students some time to play online games. There are so many great ones out there. My personal favorite is Prodigy for math. I set my student's accounts up before the start of the year and I let them play here and there. It connects to Google Classroom which is great for those of you with Google Apps accounts.

-More Coffee

-Utilize your most helpful students (this is good practice anyway to help promote leadership). Have students take ownership of jobs like handing out papers, sharpening pencils etc. 

-Peer conferencing: Partner students up to share their writing and give feedback to each other. This works best if you have done some peer conferencing already so students know how to give feedback to one another.

- Lunch = Leftovers..... there's nothing worse than making your lunch in the morning when you're too tired. Grab some leftovers out of the fridge and take those. If you don't have leftovers then grab a box of crackers and a block of cheese to make cheese and crackers at work, a piece of fruit and handful of baby carrots. 

-When in doubt....silent reading! Don't feel guilty about having students read quietly. Students become better readers by...you guessed it! Reading.

-Extra recess! This sounds like a cop out but remind yourself that children actually learn better when they have been active. Research has shown that children need AT LEAST 60 minutes a day of physical activity. Take them outside and let them run and play. BONUS: the fresh air will help to wake you up too!

-If you're really desperate, nap on your prep time! Close and lock your door, set an alarm on your phone and take a quick power nap. 

-Always keep a stash of chocolate for this type of emergency. Use this as your last line of defence for the last hour of the day.

-At the end of the day, leave your teacher bag at school! Leave the marking and planning for another day. Go home, sleep and take care of you. You owe it to yourself and your students.

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