December 29, 2015

How to Work Smarter and Keep the Joy in Teaching

If teaching is consuming your life, you need to watch this short video from Angela Watson about finding work/life balance. Finally, someone has practical answers to the question of HOW teachers are supposed to work smarter and not harder!
Can a teacher work a 40 hour week and still do a good job? 

Until recently, I would have said no. In fact, I would have sworn that it wasn't possible. During my 30 years as an elementary educator, my passion for teaching translated into unbelievably long hours, 7 days a week, from August to June. I loved teaching so much that I let it consume almost every minute of my life. Would you believe that I took stacks of papers with me on camping trips because there was never enough time to grade them all during the week?

Work just 40 hours a week and still be a good teacher? Not possible!

I felt guilty about neglecting my family and my own needs, but I couldn't figure out how to reduce my work time and still be effective in the classroom.

Have you heard that the solution is to work smarter, not harder? But NO ONE ever tells you how to do that. At least not until now.

Yesterday I discovered Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club, and I watched her video about finding work/life balance. I was hooked in the first 5 seconds! While watching it, I realized a fundamental truth about being a passionate teacher. No matter how much you love teaching, if you FEEL consumed by it, you will eventually BE consumed by it. 

Angela gave me permission to share the video here on my blog, and I want you to watch it now. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the next 2 minutes might just rock your world!

Powerful stuff, isn't it? When I watched it, I felt like Angela was speaking directly to me. In 2 minutes, she challenged my previous assumptions about the need to work day and night to be an effective teacher. I  realized that teachers don't need to work themselves into the ground until their passion for teaching burns out and the joy is gone. 

FINALLY someone has created the tools to help teachers learn how to work smarter! There IS a better way!

One thing I LOVE about the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club is that joining the club gives you access to a private Facebook group that has over 500 members. It's a place where teachers can connect with others who love teaching, but who are overwhelmed by the demands of the profession. Let me be clear that this group is NOT a place to vent about frustrations. Venting never solves anything. Instead, it's a place to discuss the monthly course content, interact with Angela personally, and learn simple hacks that will trim hours from your work week. 

Let's return to the question of whether or not you can work just 40 hours a week and be an effective teacher.

I now believe that it's possible, but only if that's the number of hours YOU want to work each week. 

You see, Angela's club isn't about pressuring members to limit themselves to 40 hours a week. Yes, the "40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club" makes for a catchy title, but Angela understands that many teachers wouldn't choose to limit themselves to 40 hours a week, if they could even figure out how to accomplish that goal. They enjoy working more than 40 hours, but they want to find a work/life balance that feels right. One of your first tasks as a new member will be to objectively determine the number of hours you're currently working and to set your own weekly target number. Your target number might be just a few hours a week less than what you're currently working, but those hours will make an enormous difference. 

If teaching is consuming your life, you need to read this post. Finally, there are answers to the question of HOW teachers are supposed to work smarter (instead of harder) so they can keep the joy in teaching!
There's so much more I could say about the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek club, but I'd rather you click over to Angela's site to get the full details directly from her. Be sure to check it out now because the course is only open to new members 3 times a year. The current membership window closes on January 3rd, and the next open enrollment window isn't until July. (Update: Angela announced on her page that she's leaving the club open until noon EST on January 4th to resolve some glitches in getting people signed up.)

This is a one year program, and the cost of joining is not much more than going to the movies once a month or a few visits to Starbucks. If you're wondering if the cost is worth the investment, you should read the comments on last night's Facebook post. Over a dozen teachers who have already signed up for the club shared why they think it's totally worth the subscription fee. You can pay in monthly or quarterly installments, or skip the recurring charges and pay a one time fee for the full membership. Once your year is up, you will have ongoing access to all the club resources at no further cost. Click here to learn more.

Post Update: The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club is only open twice a year for new members. The current open enrollment ended on January 3rd. If you'd like to be notified when the club opens again, please sign up for my Candler's Classroom Connections newsletter

I'm a member of the 40 HTW Club now, but I wish I could have joined when I was teaching. My target number would have been higher than 40, but it would have been much lower than the hours I was actually working. The club wasn't an option for me then, but thankfully, it's here for you now! I encourage you to join the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club so you can discover HOW to work smarter so that you can keep the joy in teaching!

P. S. I need to let you know that this post includes affiliate links. However, I would never promote something if I didn’t believe in it 100%. Angela is the creator of The Cornerstone For Teachers blog, and she's amazing. I feel lucky to know Angela personally, and she’s just as inspiring in person as she is in her podcasts and her blog posts. If Angela says she can help you innovate and find a better way, trust me, she can!

December 27, 2015

The Mystery of the Missing Freebies

Are you wondering what happened to all the freebies in Laura Candler's TpT store? Read this post to solve the mystery of the missing freebies!
Imagine this scenario. You're sitting down to plan your lessons for the week, and you remember a freebie you saw in my TpT store that would fit perfectly with your plans. You click over to my store and do a quick search. It's not there. Hmm. You try a different search term. Still no freebie. Then you notice that most of my freebies are gone from my store! Yikes! What happened to all of Laura's freebies???

Fortunately, this mystery is easy to solve. If you've been following me for a few years, you can guess where my freebies are... right back on Teaching Resources which is where most of them were located originally. You'll be happy to learn that everything is still free, too! The big question is how to find those freebies now.

If you want to know the backstory behind the change, keep reading. If you just want to know the fastest way to get to all those freebies, skip this section and jump to the tips for finding them!

The Backstory...
What happened was that last week I took a serious look at my TpT store and realized that it was a hot mess! The product covers did not have a consistent look, and some of them were downright difficult to read in thumbnail form. So I tackled the project of updating my cover images, organizing the categories in the sidebar, and cleaning up my store. Sort of like a spring cleaning about 3 months early! I'm not finished, but here's a peek at how the first few pages of my TpT store look and the rest will be updated soon.

After working for several hours, I realized that I had a TpT freebie problem. Would you believe I had over 80 freebies in my store?! Frankly, there were so many freebies there that it was becoming overwhelming to manage them all. Most of those freebies were still on my Teaching Resources site, too, although many of the ones on my site had not been updated in a long time. The problem was that every time I updated a freebie, I had to update it on my website and in my TpT store, which meant creating all new thumbnail images for TpT and updating the descriptions. Honestly, I just wasn't able to keep up with it all.

To simplify things, I decided to deactivate most of the freebies in my TpT store and host them in one place - on Teaching Resources. The next time I revise a freebie, I'll only have to update the file on my website, and all of the links and images throughout the site will automatically update.

Tips for Finding My Freebies 

So where can you find all the freebies that used to be in my store? Many of them are in my online File Cabinet or on the Teaching Strategies pages. You can also use the green search tool at the top of Teaching Resources, right under the navigation bar to try to find what you need.

Sign up for Candler's Classroom Connections to gain access to a page with DOZENS of Laura Candler's best freebies!
But wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to search all over Teaching Resources for them, and the best freebies were listed on one page?

Great minds think alike! I had the same thought, so I created a special page that has a long, clickable list with DOZENS of my freebies that used to be on TpT.

To access this page of my very best freebies, subscribe to Candler's Classroom Connectionsand then follow the links in the Welcome email.

If you're already on my mailing list, check your inbox and find the message I sent on December 27th with links to the new Subscriber Resources page and the page titled Laura's Best Freebies.

If you can't find it, sign up for the newsletter again. If you use the same email address you used before, you'll be asked to update your profile. After you fill out the form and click Update Profile, check your inbox for an email with links to the free resources for subscribers. If you don't receive that email, you'll need to sign up with a different email address.

Looks like the case of the missing freebies has been solved, so I'm officially closing the books on this one!

December 10, 2015

Give the Gift of TpT and Make it Festive!

Free TpT Holiday Gift Certificates

 Free customizable TpT Holiday Gift Certificates! Download these festive gift certificates and purchase gift card codes from TpT. Customize each certificate by adding the recipient's name and a unique gift card code. Sure to be a hit with any educator!
What's the very best gift you could give a teacher? That one's easy! A gift certificate to TeachersPayTeachers, of course! A TpT gift certificate is worth gold! Seriously! Being able to purchase top-notch teaching resources instead of having to create them yourself saves precious time, time you can spend over the holidays enjoying special moments with family and friends.

You can purchase a gift certificate for any amount between $5 and $500. Wow! Imagine what you could do with a $500 gift certificate! Click over to the TpT Gift Certificate page to take a look.

Usually when I send someone a gift certificate, I email it because all they need is the gift code to enter at checkout. However, during the holiday season, it's nice to be able to print a festive-looking gift certificate to include in a holiday greeting card.

So I created these two holiday gift certificates that you can give to your favorite educators. Well, first you have to purchase REAL gift cards and write a code on each certificate! As you probably guessed, these don't have any monetary value on their own. I knew you would want to customize them with your own fonts and messages, so I created an editable PowerPoint version. Did I mention that they are FREE? Just my little gift to you! You can download them from my TpT store.

Printing Tip - The colored portion of each certificate is 8 inches wide, so they should fit into a large greeting card envelope after you trim off the white border. When printing them, choose the "Shrink to Fit" option rather than choosing to print them to the edge of the paper. If they are still too wide, try reducing the scale to 95% or smaller.

Free customizable TpT Holiday Gift Certificates! Download these festive gift certificates and purchase gift card codes from TpT. Customize each certificate by adding the recipient's name and a unique gift card code. Sure to be a hit with any educator!

Remember, if anyone asks you what YOU want for Christmas, be sure to tell them that all you want for Christmas is a TpT gift certificate! Hope your winter holiday is fabulous and that you enjoy time with the special people in your life!