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Teacher Approved Tips: Make Time for Spiral Review and Use SOPs to Save Time in the Classroom [episode 76]

classroom-sops

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What Are Teacher Approved Tips?

This is a special series of episodes from the Teacher Approved podcast. 

Every Thursday, we’ll bring you a weekly bonus episode highlighting new and favorite teacher-approved tips you can apply in your classroom as soon as today. 

This Week’s Teacher Approved Tips: 

[00:53]: Tip #1 – Schedule a dedicated time for spiral review.

We hate it as a teacher when you spend 8 months teaching content to your students, and then do a big review at the end, hoping they remember it all for the end of year test. Sounds stressful! Instead, take some time daily to incorporate retrieval practice which we love to do with spiral review.

We share how daily retrieval practice of information is actually more effective and recalling information becomes automatic. And if you’re unsure how to do spiral review all year long, check out our Spiral Review Morning Work!

[6:50]: Tip #2 – Guest Tip from Sam of Engineer Does Education – Use classroom SOPs to improve productivity and efficiency.

Having systems set up in your classroom drastically improves your efficiency and productivity in your students. Sam Holcomb shares the many uses of classroom SOPs and how they can be used in your home as well!

Do You Have a Teacher Approved Tip?

If you have a teacher-approved tip that you would like to share, please send an email to hello@secondstorywindow.net. Or, you can leave us a quick voice message here!

We would love to feature your tip in an upcoming episode of Teacher Approved.

Resources Mentioned:

Read the transcript for episode 76:

Emily
Hey, there, thanks for joining us today for teacher approved tips, a special series from the Teacher Approved Podcast. Every Thursday, we’re bringing you a weekly bonus episode highlighting new and favorite teacher approved tips from us and other amazing educators. Our first tip is scheduled a dedicated time for spiral review. Heidi take it away.

Heidi
So when people talk about teaching, you will often hear something like oh, I’ve just got to get that information into their long term memory. Yep. And, you know, I understand the meaning behind that, but that is not actually how memory works. In fact, it is pretty easy to get information into long term memory, the challenge is getting it back out.

Heidi
We have to build the neuronal pathways in our brains to be able to call up needed information at the right time. And the way we build those pathways is by taking time to practice recalling the information when it’s not needed. And this is called retrieval practice. And it’s exactly what it sounds like. We practice retrieving information from our memories, so that we can recall it effortlessly when it’s needed.

Emily
The really cool thing about this is that retrieval practice is actually changing the brain. It’s immense long term learning like nothing else can. So of course, we want this for every student.

Emily
And the good news is that it can be very simple to implement. All it takes is prompting students to recall information without having anything for them to reference.

Heidi
So for example, instead of starting a lesson with, let’s review what we talked about in math yesterday, a more powerful way to start is what did we talk about in math yesterday? Or even better, write down everything you remember from math yesterday.

Emily
That simple switch is moving the information from encoding or getting information into the memory to retrieval which is getting information out of memory. And that’s what allows deep learning to occur.

Heidi
An amazing way to make retrieval practice even more effective is to space it out. Spaced retrieval practice is often called spiral review, because you are retrieving information over and over in that spiral until it becomes automatic.

Emily
Typically, when we teach students learn the content, are tested on it, and then forget it until the end of the year when we try to remind them of everything we’ve covered during the last eight months. I cannot tell you the number of times this has happened to me as a student. I would do great on a test and then be completely unable to recall that information a few months later.

Heidi
But spiral review breaks that learn it, test it, forget it pattern. Allowing a little time between review sessions means that students are forgetting a little. And that’s actually a good thing. It means it takes more effort the next time they need to recall that information.

Heidi
And the harder they work to recall it, the stronger the connections they build. So it’s kind of like a muscle. Not really like a muscle because it’s in your brain but you know, figure it the effort leads to better connections.

Emily
Because spiral review or spaced retrieval practice is so so important to student learning, we were very intentional about implementing it in our classrooms every day, we made it our morning work.

Emily
And I know different places have different names for morning work. It’s sometimes called Bell Work or a Bell Ringer Activity. But the idea is that students have a predictable assignment to start the day. And it needs to be predictable because you were busy. You’ve got stuff you have to get done in the morning too. You don’t have time to explain an assignment every day.

Emily
Since we needed an independent assignment to start the day. And students needed a dedicated retrieval practice time, it just made sense to marry the two together into our morning work. Talk about efficient. We’re all about a routine that gives you a big bang for your buck.

Heidi
If you are interested in some retrieval practice pages, we have spiral review morning work for grades first through fourth and each one is the result of hundreds of hours of work.

Emily
That is not an exaggeration.

Heidi
We were very intentional about how the content builds in sophistication from day to day and from week to week, so that by May your students are working independently at an end of year level difficulty. And we will link to our morning work in the show notes.

Emily
Now just because we like to do spiral review first thing in the morning, so we call it morning work, doesn’t mean that’s where you have to have it. Spiral review fits any time of day.

Emily
I know I’ve heard from a lot of teachers that like to use it as a transition after lunch or after specialty classes. We’ve also given it as homework and we have spiral review homework available for several grades as well. And if that is the only way you can get spiral review in it is definitely something to consider. Or it’s a great way to reinforce the review you are doing in school.

Emily
Spiral review is so vital to developing long lasting and durable knowledge, that it’s really a non negotiable for us. We think it should be part of every school day.

Emily
So as you take a look at your schedule for this upcoming school year, make sure you have included a time in your day for spiral review.

Emily
We’d love to hear how you implement spiral review or retrieval practice in your classroom. Come share your insights over in the Teacher Approved Facebook group.

Emily
Our second teacher approved tip today comes from Sam from Engineer Does Education and the Simple Systems with Sam Podcast. Let’s take a listen.

Sam
Hey there, Sam here from Engineer Does Education and the Simple Systems with Sam Podcast. I may be a high school science teacher and not your usual follow. But I believe that great system can be used at any level and in any place in your life: in the classroom all the way to your living room.

Sam
Having an engineering background, I realized that teacher stress can be solved using the same productivity and efficiency techniques from factories and large corporations. Why let them reap all the benefits?

Sam
In fact, my tip for you today comes from when I worked at a company that is just outside the top 100 for the Fortune 500 list, but it works perfectly well in the classroom too. And we’re talking SOPs, it stands for Standard Operating Procedures. And it’s a detailed list of steps or procedure to accomplish a singular task related to the process.

Sam
In the corporate world. SOPs are posted at each job station and reviewed regularly. It’s how you would make sure that each person that rotates through that station has a basic set of steps to accomplish the job. And there’s also a photo of how all the materials should look when they arrive and leave. In a factory as people are rotated into new positions, they just read the SOP to have an idea of what their task is for a day and they’re ready to go.

Sam
SOPs are something you may already unofficially use in the classroom, but you want to think about posting them for any process you want someone else to be able to take over. For example, if you have a set of math manipulatives out for stations, but you want to transition quickly into something new, do you have to be the person to put them away? Or can you delegate that task to a student helper?

Sam
The easiest way to do it is to put quick steps for how to put the objects away listed on the bin that they belong in. First, separate all the pieces by color, second sorting to the correct baggies. Third, seal the bag fourth, put the lid on the box. And then put a photo so that you can ensure that the box looks the way it should and everything is still nice and organized and not a giant mess.

Sam
For younger students. photos for each step of the procedure work perfectly well. And they can be put on rings so that they can flip through each step and learn how to follow them with a photo example. I actually use this exact system for my high schoolers when I’m asking them to clean up or reorganize lab supplies. I give them a list of steps on how to clean the equipment that we used, and a picture of what their bins should look like when they finish.

Sam
Creating SOPs for any possible task in your classroom or at home that you want to delegate makes it something that’s not only easy to hand over, but you know, it’s going to be done the way that you want it to be done. And you can use SOPs for any student job in the classroom, or you can write them to have ready for sub plans. Or even as a reminder to yourself when it comes time to submit report cards again, and you forgot the steps. I do that a lot.

Sam
Think how amazing it would be to also have a collection of these documents that you could hand over to a new teacher on your team. It would immediately reduce their feeling of overwhelm for all these things that they just don’t know what to do. It gives them a general layout for how to accomplish so many things.

Sam
I promised you that this wasn’t just for the classroom, so let me come up with a few other uses for you. At home, SOPs are a great way to handover chores to your older kids, and make sure that they’re done to your standard, easy to ask your partner to take over packing for a trip if you have an SOP for how you typically get started. Or having a friend put together the next baby shower because you wrote down the steps you took at the previous one to take it all planned.

Sam
If you have an emergency babysitter or a dog sitter instructions ready to go, then you don’t even have to worry if it comes up at the drop of a hat. And even if you’re just trying to get into a new habit for a morning or evening routine, writing it out and reading through the steps as you go is going to help you actually establish that new habit a lot quicker. It’s a great step to start taking over the summer so that you can see all of the payout at the beginning of the next school year.

Sam
And if you enjoyed this tip and would like to hear more, feel free to join me over at the Simple Systems with Sam podcast or on Instagram @engineeredoeseducation. To kick your productivity up a notch, I also have a free download, linked in the show notes, five steps to simplify your to do list. Until next time.

Emily
This is a fantastic tip from Sam, we love anything to make school and life more efficient.

Emily
I love how she showed how the same strategies for efficiency can work on any level high school or elementary. And it’s so smart to think of your SOPs, so you can delegate tasks to your students, or help a new teacher on your team get up to speed on how you do things at your school.

Emily
And I really liked how she gave ideas for applying these ideas to your home life too. I’ve been trying to delegate more home tasks to my kids, but I still want them to get done right, which is, you know very hard to accomplish.

Emily
I bought these visual chore guides from Etsy that are helping so much with them actually doing the chores right. It’s like a visual SOP. I think they’d be even more effective if the pictures were from our own house to be honest, but it’s still an excellent way to help them pick up some more slack around the house and do it well because they know the SOP.

Emily
This is an all around excellent tip for work or for home life. Be sure to check out Sam’s freebie five ways to simplify your to do list and that is linked in our show notes and give a listen to the Simple Systems with Sam podcast.

Emily
That’s it for today’s episode. Schedule a time for daily spiral review and remember Sam’s teacher approved tip to use SOPs to improve productivity and efficiency in the classroom or at home.

More About Teacher Approved:

Do you ever feel like there’s just not enough time in the day to be the kind of teacher you really want to be? The Teacher Approved podcast is here to help you learn how to elevate what matters and simplify the rest. Join co-hosts Emily and Heidi of Second Story Window each week as they share research-based and teacher-approved strategies you can count on to make your teaching more efficient and effective than ever before.

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