Our fourth grade team discovered the best Google Classroom tip during the pandemic. One that reduced our workload by 75%.
You can use this Google Classroom tip at any time. It works during a pandemic or post-pandemic. Hybrid, remote, or in-school. And you can make this work for you.
Google Classroom Tip (and how it came about)
Our team realized that distance learning would mean more hours planning than before. We decided to each pick one subject and plan it for the team. At first, we opted to have each teacher edit all the incoming plans for their classroom. We had different teaching styles, after all.
Now I’m the teacher who likes to do her own thing. Part of the fun is adding my own spin. I adore my team and play well with others. I share all my ideas, lessons, games, and materials because I love to cut people’s workload. But I also love having control over my classroom. I just do.
But 2020 taught me the importance of flexibility in times of crisis.
Why I needed to change my tune
Three months earlier, my brother and I learned that our mother had stage-4 cancer. I took a leave of absence that January to be with her in hospice. By the end of the month, she had died.
It was horrible and yet I felt grateful to be by her side.
And I was lucky to have an incredible substitute teacher. My students loved her, she loved them, and they accomplished great things.
But my communication with my substitute was sparse, because my energy went to family. Had my planning been more in line with my team, it would have been easier for her. Luckily, she was great, but I felt guilty.
The point? If one of us teachers got sick — really sick — or if family got sick, we wouldn’t have head space for school. We needed a plan.
The Time-Saving Google Classroom Tip
So we decided to go a step further. We would not only each take a subject and plan it, we would go into the others’ Google Classrooms and assign it. That way, if one of us couldn’t teach, the systems would already be in place to take over. Our team would plan the extra subject and everything would be ready for the substitute.
And you know what? It worked like magic. We each cut our planning time by 75% with this Google Classroom tip.
Did I miss making each subject mine? Yes. But the benefits to my team, to me, and to our students was worth it.
With this focus on one subject, we were creating solid units. We weren’t spread thin. The students were getting the best of each of us.
Find a Buddy
So how can you make this work for you?
First, share this post with your team. You might get lucky and your team members will be on board. You might not. You might have a teacher who (like old me) wants to do their own thing. And that’s fine. They might change their mind later when they see the time you save. They might not.
What’s important is how to make this work for you.
Do you have one teacher in your grade that wants to try this? If so, you will cut your planning by half. Half! That’s huge!
If you don’t have a team-member to share the load, consider a teacher in your district or state who has a similar model. Join a Facebook group of teachers in your grade, share this post, and say, I’m looking for other teachers to plan with.
You might find one teacher that loves this Google Classroom tip. You might find more. But even sharing the load with one teacher cuts your work in half.
Add Coteachers to Your Google Classroom
Adding coteachers is simple.
- Go to the People Tab
- Click the person icon next to Teachers
- Type in the teacher’s name or email address
- Once they accept, they will be able to go into your classroom and assign work
Once you are coteachers in each others’ classrooms, you can assign work to all the students. And, you can use a time-saving tool called “Reuse Post.”
Watch this video to see this in action.
Go here to see the link mentioned in the video on Google Classroom for Teachers.
Who teaches what?
Decide who is going to plan what. It’s best to play to your strengths. Usually, we have subjects we’re more drawn to and better at than others.
To learn about assignments, go to this post on Google Classroom for Teachers. It’s called “Plan the Perfect Google Classroom in 1 Hour.” Scroll to “Creating an Assignment.” Bookmark that page and return to it. It’s a series of free video lessons that shave hours off your week.
If planning for your subject is heavy or light for one week, let your partners know.
For example, if you finished planning your subject early, ask if anyone needs help.
Or, if you are drowning in your subject one week, ask for help.
Now and then, check in with each other and see if everyone is still happy with their subject. It could be going great. And you could have one or more people who want to change.
At first, our assignments were confusing to our students. We simplified them by using one document for each subject.
We formatted the document to show assignments for each day. Then we placed links within the document.
If students needed to respond, they did so inside the pink triangles. (We chose pink because it stood out; students were less likely to miss it.)
I’m making this available to you so you can use this with your own classroom. After you click the link, select “Make a Copy.” Then rename it and edit. It’s now yours!
The video below shows you more about this.
Using your planning document for each subject
Making copies of your new document for each subject.
Creating a shared folder for your team
Click this link to learn more about turning in assignments and giving feedback.
Save even more time
Starting to see the possibilities?
If you want to go a step further, check out this post: “6 Time-Saving Tips for Teachers.” It will make your Google Classroom (or other platform) even more efficient. (You’re gonna love it.)
Trying this out
The first couple of weeks will feel strange. Like anything, it takes a little bit of time investment to gain new habits.
But soon you will see the benefits. Aside from the time saved, your lessons will be better. More creative.
Also? You will have:
- a rested mind and body
- energy for things you love outside the classroom
- time to deep-dive on time-saving technology
- mental space to use video to save time
- hours to discover new read-alouds
Honestly? I’m excited for you!
Now let’s turn the mic to you!
In the comments tell us:
- Who will you try this with? Your bestie? Your whole team?
- Have you done something like this Google Classroom tip? How did it save you time?
- What will you do with the saved time? (Sleep counts!)
Know a teacher who stays at work too late? Want to send them time-saving tips? Share this article with them on social media using the links up top.
Want more good stuff?
Click here and get “8 Ways to Create Lifelong Readers.” Want your kids to love reading? In 8 easy steps, you’ll have a well-loved book haven in your classroom.
Go to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and click on the green “Follow” star under the store name. You’ll get monthly messages and first dibs on ways to save time in your classroom.
Follow me on Social Media (up top!) for tips on getting out the door on time.
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