If you are a homeschool mom, do you have “teacher workdays?” Have you ever wondered what’s the best way to spend one?
I did not have a “teacher workday” as a homeschool mom until mid-way through last year. I had been homeschooling for about six months when I was chatting with my neighbor, who teaches at the local elementary school. She was explaining that she’d be out of town for the next two days, because she’d be a few hours away in the mountains, having her state-funded Teacher Planning Day in a cabin somewhere with some other teacher friend.
Um, what??? That sounds amazing, right?
At the time, I was fried, mentally drained, lacking organization, and in a serious “winter slump.” I promptly went home and told my husband, “Honey, I need a teacher workday.” To my utter shock, he was totally happy to oblige, and so it began.
We have decided that these things are not optional. They’re essential, and happening. Here are my tips for a fun, efficient, and rejuvenating teacher workday.
- Make it happen, even if you have to pay for childcare. I have done mine on Saturdays, because that’s when it works well for my husband. I honestly believe that even if you had to spend $50 on childcare, this is an expense well-worth it. No one would expect a teacher to teach straight for 36 weeks without one day off to stop and plan. You cannot do this, either!
- A day is great; four hours are minimum. I work pretty fast. It takes me at least four hours to feel like I have gotten anything accomplished worthwhile.
- Pick a happy environment. You should enjoy this. I have typically done Panera, which works great because they have a delicious breakfast, lunch, coffee, Wi-Fi, and no one cares if you’re there forever. HOWEVER, for this year’s teacher workday, I may go by myself to my mom’s house. She has a beautiful home (with no little ones around:) ) with plenty of various rooms and chairs to sit and plan. Plus, since I’m an extrovert I start getting real anxious after too many hours and no one to share all my brilliant ideas with LOL. My sisters (who are also homeschooling) have talked about joining me for lunch, when we can hash over some shared plans and topics. If you have a buddy who homeschool too, and you have enough time, I love the idea of planning a lunch date with your friend in the middle of your day. You can share what you’ve been planning and brainstorm together! Just make sure you stick to a one-hour lunch break, and that’s all. 😉
- Come with a plan, but not a huge plan. It’s just a day, after all! I usually pick about three “tasks” I want to work on. If I get bored with one, I skip to another. It is best to have very specific things you’d like to accomplish, so you go into it with all the necessary supplies, and don’t just sit there jumping from thing to thing!
- Make a list of everything you need to bring (ahead of time) and even set it out the night before. Here are some essentials for my planning/teacher workdays:
- school curricula
- plain old paper for random note-taking, pens
- chap stick and lotion (super-annoying if you need it)
- COMFORTABLE clothes and shoes, including jacket or sweater
- COMPUTER CHARGER!
- money for lunches or snacks
- Plan around YOUR best time of day. I am not an afternoon person at all, so the times I’ve had to do planning then I get much less accomplished.
- Have some time to reflect and just listen. I’m a Christian, so I believe that in being quiet and reading the Bible, I will gain wisdom from God. Maybe at times it’s just my own thoughts (who finally have time to express themselves!) coming to the surface. I’m all about being efficient, but I gain a lot of valuable insights into my children, things I need to work on, and goals for myself in these quiet moments.
- Don’t be afraid to spend time planning NON-homeschool things. Sometimes I’ll end up making a monthly meal plan, brainstorming how to deal with a particular behavioral issue of a child, or making a massive to-do list. Ya know, that is JUST. FINE. If you feel more organized as a person, your teaching will be that much better.
- Stay out of email and Facebook-land. You would be very disappointed if you putzed around for three hours and got little done. It would be a waste! Do not let yourself stay on there!
- And finally, the absolute most important point. Do not be shattered if you come home, and the house is a mess, the kids are arguing, the next hour/day/week is absolutely horrible, and you think all your plans are for naught. They are not. Every day is a new day. Just stay focused on your goals and start over again!
Have you ever had a homeschool teacher workday? Where do you like to go?
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