A more balanced diet
I love that new year feeling and I’m soooooo happy to work in a school setting and get that new year promise twice a year! But the January 1st marker is when I tend to think about how I’m handling things as a whole and for the past few years, I keep revisiting the idea of “balance.” In 2016, I vowed to give up multi-taking (I’ve made inroads with this) and last year I talked about scheduling in more downtime (note the full month I took off from blogging during the holidays as well as the couple of weeks I ignored social media). Neither of these sounds terribly helpful in terms of getting things done. Right?
Yet, I’m actually more productive. Here’s how.
I love cookies so even just the term “batching” makes me happy. It conjures up warm, baking smells and a cozy afternoon in the kitchen. But who has time to do that every day or even every couple of days? Not me. So I mix up big batches of cookies and then I freeze shaped, cookie dough for those rough days when you could really use a warm cookie, but hardly have the strength to take off your shoes. Or those long days that you totally nail and need a cookie to celebrate. Or one of those days where you realize “This is Us” is finally back on and you’ll need cookies for both celebration and comfort (seriously, we need to talk to Kevin). Or if it’s Wednesday. Life is better with cookies.
Now batching work isn’t cozy, but it does leave me with a content feeling of “that’s done” and “there’s plenty in the freezer.”
Cooking up speech activities
I sit down every few weeks and roughly plan what I’ll be doing with all of my kiddos. The articulation students almost always get the same activity (obviously with different and appropriate targets) with slight variations. Usually, I do a week of craftivities, then a week of more drill-type work, then a week of artic-specific games. These days I tend to save apps for “emergency” type situations–I can’t immediately locate something I’ve printed or the student’s progress has deviated more than I expected (forward or backward) and my original plan isn’t appropriate.
Now if I have a student that doesn’t fit into what I’m doing with the other articulation students, I don’t try to make them fit. I always adjust the activity to suit the student, but having a general framework means 80% of the planning is done by selecting an activity. (For example, this month we’ll make “Snowmen” one week, use a snowman 100 trial sheet another, play “Don’t Break the Ice” another, complete ice fishing worksheets and play ice fishing the next). It also means that kiddos often have an idea of what to expect by talking to friends or seeing what’s coming back to the classroom. That can be a lesson in itself, “Did you see what Hunter made? How do you think we’ll do that? What will we need?”
For language students, I can often use one book and adapt the activities I do to meet goals. One child might help me sequence and re-tell the story with manipulatives and another might answer questions about details or help me decide what the characters are thinking and feeling.
When I do all of my planning for several weeks all at once, it doesn’t really take me much longer than when I work a week (or, let’s be honest, a day) at a time and my therapy is So. Much. Better. I think because I’ve put a structure in place, I come across as more relaxed (because I am) and I have more fun. I can focus more on what’s happening rather than what I’m doing. And while it seems like winging-it is a true sign of creativity, more often having a rough outline allows you more freedom to modify.
And as a bonus, when we have a snow day or delay, I can enjoy it guilt free if I want. (I hate that feeling of losing the gift of time to playing catch-up.)
Icing on the…cookie
Sort of work related, I also batch choosing my outfits for the week. I’m not militant about it, but I’ll check the weather for the week on Sunday and quickly pull together what I plan to wear each day and leave them hanging together at the front of my closet. It saves me a ton of time in the morning (when it’s soooooo much harder to decide for some reason) and I don’t have to frantically look for the shirt I was positive was there, but can’t lay my hands on….
How about you? Do you batch any of your work? I know some people batch meal planning, but I can’t do more than a few days at a time. I do tend to batch a good chunk of my blog posts and if I’m inspired by something particularly timely, I just slide that in and keep something in the freeze for another week.