Let’s talk about what to do when there is too much to do.
If you are reading this, that means we have one thing in common, we are teachers. And if you are anything like me, you are an overworked teacher.
It’s mid-November, right before we leave for Thanksgiving break, I just got two more new students, and a third is on the way. Right now, I feel overwhelmed. I’m finding it difficult to catch up with progress monitoring, data tracking, and paperwork. Also, I barely get prep time to prep the cute art projects for my students. Because of this, I am going home mentally and physically drained every day. I dislike teaching this way – it’s not what I signed up for, but this is my reality and my students deserve the best I can give them. So, that being said, here is what I do when there is too much to do.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, or the Big Stuff, or Most Stuff
This may seem like a given, however, we need our reminders to go easy on ourselves. Yes, I had two assistants call out the day before two new students started BUT, I did not let it ruin my Sunday. I woke up a little early to set up the classroom for the day and everything worked out. It ended up being a great day and I was still able to enjoy my Sunday at home. There are some things I simply cannot control and I have learned over time that they are not worth the stress; especially when there’s too much.
Go Hard on Routine
Yes, I know you have heard this many times before, but routine is A MUST in a special education classroom. My students thrive on their routine and it makes the day more difficult when we stray from our routine. I stick to my routine every day – as much as I can, which makes my students more independent and less anxious. With a predictable routine, my students help keep me on schedule, what a blessing! To see my full daily schedule, read this post.
The reason I stress a routine when there is too much is that I prep one time. Once the day is over, I simply reset my Google Slides, reset my independent centers, and clean up the classroom. This routine has enabled me to get to work and leave at my contract time, which is saving my sanity right now. To add, by prepping The Autism Helper Leveled Daily Curriculum, my students are still learning essential, rigorous academics that have already been prepped.
To see how I save precious prep time with Google Slides, read this post.
Structure Saves the Day
Throughout the years, I have discovered that structuring my classroom is probably THE MOST important thing to do when there is too much to do. Without structure, I cannot get as much done throughout the day. My centers are set up so that they are clearly defined and marked so students can successfully (and independently) transition from one center to the next. In my classroom, my center rotations are set up to rotate clockwise so students are not traveling from one side of my classroom to the next for each center.
The structure in my classroom saves me because once my students learn the structure, they stay at their centers, thus giving me more time to do direct instruction and progress monitor. Additionally, going hard on structure and routine allows my classroom to essentially run like a well-oiled machine on a daily basis. This really helps when I need to take a mental health day or if I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed. To read more about the why behind the structure, read this post from Sasha.
While I would love to be doing cute crafts with my students and working on all the skills, right now I have to focus on their independence and academics. We get to crafts when we can, and that is okay. I’m going easy on myself because it is what I need to do to stay sane.
If you are finding yourself overwhelmed, exhausted, and needing encouragement, read my post You Are Doing a Good Job. Thanks for reading!