We are all familiar with the ‘Friday 3pm’ feeling: throwing everything into your work bag, and walking (very swiftly) out of the door after a hectic week.
However, we are also all familiar with the feeling of walking back in on Monday morning and seeing the chaos we left behind. Suddenly, everything feels frustrating and overwhelming.
That feeling of frustration can be prevented by dedicating 10 minutes on a Friday afternoon to these four tips! Your future self will love you for it.
1) Tidy your desk (and your classroom!)
The sentiment: “tidy house, tidy mind” holds a lot of truth. Our environment often reflects our feelings inside. By Friday afternoon, my desk is covered in red pens, glue stick lids and a lost school tie.
But research has discovered that clutter can create feelings of confusion, tension and lack of focus (Princeton Alumni Weekly, 2015).
Reset your desk by putting items back where they belong, wiping it down and throwing any rubbish away. A clear space can take on new opportunities in the week ahead!
And, on Monday morning, the focus for the week will not only be clear in your mind, but in your environment, too.
2) Make a positive phone call home
The power of a positive call home works whether your week has been spectacular or not. In particular, if your week has not been great, making an effort to remember and talk about a positive moment in that week can reframe your perception of the whole week.
For parents and carers, it gives them a positive insight into what their young person achieves in their time at school. They are often very grateful and proud of their young person!
For the students, however, a positive phone call is a special thing to return home to. I have often had students at my door on a Monday morning, excited to tell me how proud their family was, and how good they feel about their achievements. It gives a confidence boost for their future - not just in your classes, but in everything they do. Also, it builds an extremely positive relationship with your students.
3) Print your resources for Monday
Everyone has needed to urgently print a worksheet on Monday morning when, all of a sudden, a red warning light pops up on the printer. And now, your beautiful lesson plan is ruined.
That is a stressful start to a new week.
However, by printing on Friday afternoon, you can come into a new week knowing you are fully prepared for the day ahead. The challenge of a printer breaking is no challenge for you anymore.
Instead of using those key productive moments at the start of a new week for printing, that energy can be put into a more productive task; or actually sitting down with your coffee for a slow start to the morning and enjoying the quiet.
And best of all, if you need to print nearly 100 worksheets, nobody will disturb (or judge) you on a Friday afternoon!
4) Set a small, achievable goal for Monday morning.
A new school week comes with a ‘fresh start’ feeling like at the start of a new year.
Some people enjoy ‘eating the frog’ at the beginning of the day, and doing the most daunting task first. However, I prefer to set a small, easy goal to achieve for Monday mornings. Once I have ticked this off, I feel more capable of taking on the rest of my to-do list, as I have already achieved something before 8am.
I set a small goal, such as updating multiple-choice stickers in exercise books - something very easy while my brain warms up.
It is a bonus if this task is not on the computer so you can begin promptly, rather than waiting for a computer to switch on and update, and you are not focused on emails that start filtering in. Laying out the materials you need, even with a pen, can also support you to begin as soon as possible.
I will call this method “eating the grape” - a grape is more pleasant to eat than a frog, and easier to stomach first thing in the morning!
Looking for more ways to start your school week positively? Check out our blog on how improving your mindset can improve your classroom practice.
Priska Reynolds is a Mathematics teacher on the Teach First programme.