Teacher Week - Sanity Savers

Welcome back for day 4 of Teacher Week!

Today we're talking all about sanity savers...

Let me tell you what works for me when it comes to keeping my sanity both in and out of the classroom.  Here are 7 tips I have found invaluable through the years.  

Let It Go.
Let go of the control.  If you're anything like me, that's HARD for you to do. Start small.  I released some of the control when I let my kids started choosing their own centers.  Hard at first, but the payoff was HUGE!!!!  And this is how I like to do that....

I keep a laminated class list at each of my stations/centers/tubs.  When my kids visit that center, they use a dry erase marker to cross their names off the list.  This reminds them that they can't visit that center again and it gives me a quick visual as to who still needs to do what.  

And let go of anything that's bringing you down. The negativity.  The stress.  Just LET IT GO.

Keep & Maintain "At-a-Glance" Intervention Folders
This one was HUGE for me in the classroom.  We had benchmark testing every 6 weeks and it was so important for me to keep track of my kids' progress in between testing periods.  I wanted to make sure that my kids who were still having trouble mastering concepts were given lots of practice and small group intervention so that they were successful on the next round of assessments.  As sad as that sounds, that's the reality of teachers these days.  I kept these intervention folders for literacy and math (math is pictured here)...

First I wrote down all of the skills and concepts my kids would need to master by the end of the year on labels and then adhered them to a file folder.  When I'm administering benchmarks, I simply write down the students names on post its when they don't master a concept. I place their name next to the concept that wasn't mastered.  When it comes time for intervention/small group work, I know EXACTLY which skills/concepts I need to reinforce with them.  It helps me to intentionally plan instruction which is SO very important.  I mean, what's the use of testing if we're not using the data to thoughtfully plan instruction?!  

Keep a running "to-do" list.  
I know that sounds really simple.  And it is.  But ohmiword does this keep me on track!  I'm a crosser-offer. I feel accomplished when I can cross even one thing off my list of to-do's.  I love that they help me visually see my day and what I need to get done.  Before the day starts, I will sit down and write my to-do list.  I might have a few things to transfer over from the day before and all that goes on the list, too.  I keep my to-do list by my side throughout the day because it keeps me motivated.  Simple and effective.

Meal Plan
I remember when I first started teaching my husband would call me at school almost everyday around noon to ask what we were having for dinner.  HELLO!  I didn't even know what I was having for lunch,lol!!  I would stop at the grocery store almost every afternoon when I'd leave school and buy our dinner ingredients.  I finally started to wise up and meal plan.  It helps when I can do it the week before, too.  For example, on Monday of this week I planned Monday's meal for the following week and so forth.  Then I'll head to the grocery store over the weekend and buy everything I need for each meal so that I'm not running to the store more than once a week.  I'll write all my meals down on my "weekly menu" chalkboard and then I know exactly what I'm having and when we're having it.  This helps especially when I'm making a crock pot meal.  I can prep all the ingredients the night before and then throw it all in the slow cooker the next morning before I leave for school. 

Leave Early
Let's face it.  Teachers, by nature, are workaholics.  I think we come by it honest.  There is ALWAYS something that can be done in the classroom.  I could spend an entire weekend in my classroom and still have tons of stuff to do!!!  I could stay for hours after the kids leave and still feel unprepared for the following day.  I guess I never realized I was even doing that until my husband...and my boys...pointed it out.  So I made a conscious effort to start leaving early.  I allowed myself one hour to work after school and then I forced myself to leave.  I even set an alarm.  I would allow myself one night a week to stay late.  My family needed me and well, life is short.  And honestly, it will ALL GET DONE.  It will.  Your kids will still learn.  You will still rock it out as a teacher.  And you will be SO much happier.  

Treat Yourself
A cup of coffee.  A piece of chocolate.  A pedi after school.  A big ol' glass of whine....er, wine ;) 
(<----- see what I did there?!)  A Route 44 Sonic Coke always did it for me (until I gave up soda 2 years ago).  It was just a little something I treated myself to that helped saved my sanity during the day.  Crazy how something so simple made me so happy :)  Whatever works!!!!!  

It's okay to be frustrated.  It's okay to feel overwhelmed.  Confide in a TRUSTED friend or spouse/partner and vent.  Just let it all out.  I found that confiding in friends who didn't teach with me was so much better for my mental health.  They wouldn't let me dwell on the negative stuff for longer than they were willing to listen and they were really unbiased while still being super supportive (and not afraid to give me their honest opinion).  My husband has always been a great sounding board, too.  I can get all my frustrations off my chest without bringing down the work environment and go to school happy and refreshed the next day.  

How does sanity look for you?!

And for today's Teacher Week Deal of the Day, all of my Flip Strips are 20% off until midnight!
These are one of my favorite resources because they're easy to implement, great for reinforcement, and totally independent :)  And for those of you who have asked, more are in the works!  Be on the lookout for short vowels/CVC words, digraphs, vowel teams, letters, place value, and MORE!!!!

And don't forget to come back tomorrow for our last and final day of Teacher Week 2015!  We'll be talking all about our favorite subject to teach.  Hope to see you tomorrow!


  1. Great tips, Cara! Leaving early is soooooooooo on my to do list! LOL.
    It's so true, we can stay there for hours and still have a ton more to do. Family is way more important.
    K&C Love Grade 3

    1. Yes...I love what I do, but family will ALWAYS come first!!!!

  2. I love your idea for the intervention data folders! So smart yet simple!

  3. I love the way you keep track of who goes to what centers! I may have to go to something like this. I currently keep track of mine myself and move them myself. This may be a better way to organize!

    Carlee Van Ness
    The Kindergarten Press

    1. I was so nervous to do it, but let me tell you...best decision I ever made in the classroom!!!

  4. Great tips! It took me a while to learn to let it go, but that's probably one of the most helpful. ;) The running to do list has helped me tremendously. I've started just keeping mine in a 5x8 spiral notebook that goes in my purse so I already have new pages when I add to my list. And thanks for the reminder to treat yourself. I think I'll do that today. ;)

    1. The treats are the best, aren't they?!?! ;)

  5. I have never even thought about the idea of laminated a class list and leaving it at a center/station! Love it, and I'm implementing it asap.

  6. Love this, love your positive spirit, love it all. Thanks for this. I needed it this week. =] I stay late every day and I wanna stop. I need professional help, I think.....

  7. This is brilliant! I am no longer a teacher, but these tips are relevant to life in general. I love how you see the stress and negativity and choose to rise above it. Venting to someone OUTSIDE of teaching is one of the best things you could do.