Opinion Blog

Classroom Q&A

With Larry Ferlazzo

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to lferlazzo@epe.org. Read more from this blog.

Teaching Profession Opinion

Teachers, Don’t Take Your Work Home

By Larry Ferlazzo — April 12, 2023 2 min read
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I asked teachers on social media to share their best strategies for minimizing the amount of work they have to take home.

Here are some of their responses:

Always ask beforehand.....what is this task's purpose....why am I doing this? If it's necessary, do it. If it brings you joy, do it.
Collaboration with colleagues to share the workload.
I create as many opportunities for students to lead, design, teach, & self-assess as possible.
Peer assessment and self-assessment!
Ask myself: is this something I could do, should do, or must do? (A lot falls into the could do).
Utilize tech that helps auto-correct and provide instant feedback.
Whole class feedback rather than individual feedback.
Doing some assignments via Google Forms - much quicker to grade. Not grading everything. Verbal feedback instead of written.
Sometimes when students are working on multiple examples of a type of thing (for example: capitalization), they do a LOT of practice, but then only submit two to me: the one they're most sure they got correct, and the one they struggled with the most.
Digital formative assessments for feedback. Whole class feedback for common errors. Peer feedback on general tasks allows me to focus my feedback to students.
Don’t grade everything.
Put my phone away during planning!!
I refuse to take anything home to be present with my family. If I can’t do it at school, it doesn’t get done.
If you have several assignments that are warm-ups, do-nows, credit/no credit, have the students make a table of contents and collect the packet of work at the end of each month. Enter one grade instead of 15 per student.
My to-do list is on post-it notes so I can easily move them to a different day or even next week as I prioritize on the fly
Go gradeless or as close as you can get. Students don’t learn based on how many hours I spend grading.
I've been trying to have my students create the materials themselves whenever possible. For example, I've been using cleaned-up simple texts written by my intermediate English speakers to teach reading and language lessons to beginner English learners.
I get to work about 30 minutes early, I close my door during my conference period and I do the same for lunch.
Use a single rubric for most work quality + teach students to self-assess their work from Day One.
Have students self assess themselves against exemplars in class.
Utilizing a good textbook or online resource can save a lot of time. Approaching the book thoughtfully is important, but it can save teachers from reinventing the wheel over and over.
Being relentless about prioritizing that what goes in front of kids gets done first, and remembering that things don't have to be cute/perfect/adorable as long as the content is strong.
For major assignments, I create several 2 min feedback video/mini lessons for common first-draft issues. Then, when scanning 120 drafts, my first feedback sounds like this :”See videos 1 & 3.”

Thanks to everyone for contributing their thoughts!

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org. When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form. It’s titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

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I am also creating a Twitter list including all contributors to this column.

The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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