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
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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.

Just a reminder; you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email (The RSS feed for this blog, and for all Ed Week articles, has been changed by the new redesign—new ones are not yet available). And if you missed any of the highlights from the first 10 years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below.

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.


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion Why Is the Nation Invested in Tearing Down Public Education?
Education professor Deborah Loewenberg Ball argues that panic over test scores keeps us from building on the strengths of our children.
Deborah Loewenberg Ball
5 min read
Illustration of school text books and wrecking ball.
F. Sheehan for Education Week / Getty
Teaching Profession Teachers Censor Themselves on Socio-Political Issues, Even Without Restrictive State Laws
A new survey from the RAND Corporation found that two-thirds of teachers limit their instruction on political and social issues in class.
4 min read
Civics teacher Aedrin Albright stands before her class at Chatham Central High School in Bear Creek, N.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The class is debating whether President Trump should be impeached. The House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine has become a teachable moment in classrooms around the country as educators incorporate the events in Washington into their lesson plans.
Civics teacher Aedrin Albright stands before her class at Chatham Central High School in Bear Creek, N.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The class was debating whether President Trump should be impeached. A new national survey found that a majority of teachers are now limiting instruction on political and social issues in class.
Allen G. Breed/AP
Teaching Profession 10 Major Challenges for Substitute Teachers
Substitute teachers want more support to do their jobs well. One state has identified their top concerns.
4 min read
Illustration of people climbing stacks of books. There are 3 stacks of books at different heights with people helping people climb up.
Teaching Profession What the Research Says How to Refresh a Dwindling Pipeline of STEM Teachers? Researchers Share Strategies
The pool of science teachers is getting younger and less prepared than it once was.
5 min read
A female teacher bends over an elementary school boy's desk to help him with the slide on his microscope.