Teaching multiple preps has always been part of my teaching career. Some crazy years I’ve taught up to 7 different preps ranging from Biology and Chemistry to Social Science and Computer Literacy. Throw in some Math and you get the idea. Those weren’t the easiest years and I am grateful that I’m only teaching Biology and Chemistry at the moment. I did however learn to plan and be organized to survive.
Planning has been one of the most important parts of juggling multiple preps. My year planning has been a lifesaver for those times where I actually taught the same subject in consecutive years! You can read all about my planning strategies in this blog post.
Cut down on grading
I think this is the one area that most teachers struggle with. Guess what?! You don’t have to grade all the things! Decide beforehand which assignments will be graded. Be honest with your students and tell them whether something will be for a grade or not. I expect my students to complete all work to the best of their abilities and they know I will have them re-do something if it is rushed or incomplete.
We mark most homework activities as a class and I will walk around and provide feedback. If I pick up that they’ve struggled I will assign a similar piece of work that I will then grade.
Task cards and crossword puzzles, as well as many worksheets, are marked by the students themselves. I have laminated answer keys that they will collect once they have completed the work. I also post a lot of answer keys on our Google Classroom. If they struggle with a specific concept, they will add a note and hand it to me to assist them.
I have found that my students quickly become more motivated and they like taking responsibility for their work.
This one is difficult! But it is probably the most important if you want to keep your sanity while teaching all the classes.
If possible, say no to extra responsibility. Trust me, there is someone else who can do it.
Ask for help. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. I was drowning in prepping labs and cleaning up afterward. I knew we won’t be able to get a lab assistant, but the dishwasher I got instead has been amazing!
Students love to help out. Get a few responsible seniors to be your lab assistants. They can easily set up basic labs and stations for younger classes. I have a few students who love to laminate and you better believe that I take advantage of that!
Use your Prep Time
Try to get as much done during your prep lessons. Close your door, set a goal for that lesson and work! Avoid distractions like the staff room during those times.
Printing & Copies
I have been very deliberate about getting all my printing and copies done on a Friday before I go home. It is such a relief to know that everything is ready to go for my lessons the following week. And you never know when the printer is going to act up! You do not need that extra stress!
Have a Backup Plan
Power outages happen. Technology decides to stop working. You are home with a sick child. These are all things that are out of your control. Having easy-to-use sub-plans ready will be a life-saver. I have a file of activities on graphing, scientific method, etc. ready to go in case of an emergency. Color-by-number activities are also a fun alternative when things go wrong.
I need to have certain systems in place to keep track of everything. Google Keep is my go-to to dot down ideas, to-do lists, groceries, and everything else. I have it pinned at the top of my browser on my laptop. And I love that it syncs to my phone. Want to customize your Google Keep? You can grab this set of Google Keep Headers for free.
For all the lesson plans and other reminders, my Erin Condren planner is my saving grace. Sticky notes, flair pens and all the stickers make this my favorite organizational tool.