The key to effective leadership and classroom instruction is getting both students and teachers on task. In many schools, that means using lesson plans to keep them on task. For example, one teacher I worked with planned several instructional strategies for the children in her photography class to help them keep their focus. One of the strategies focused on ensuring that students had at least one page turned over each day.
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In an instructional plan like that, you first provide a daily reminder to give students one page per day. Then, they are given a short homework period to complete the task. Afterward, they are encouraged to give themselves a short attention break. In the morning, you can give students another page to read ahead to the next day’s assignment. If they don’t, you can then remind them to give themselves at least thirty minutes to complete the task before moving on.
Setting Quotas for teams and departments helped our office to stay on task. In general, we set three break times for employees. One was lunch, one was for lunchtime, and one was for dinner. When we used the goal setting and task prioritization techniques that we used in the leadership and classroom courses, we found that many students were more attentive during their break periods and that they were also more productive during dinner.
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Our lesson plans also had several other instructional strategies. We would highlight the most important activities of the day. That would give students a clear path to follow to complete their assignments. We also encouraged group projects and assigned students a workbook or spreadsheet to help them with their assignments. Finally, we provided guidelines for paying attention, following directions, and staying on task.
In addition to using the weekly office meeting to discuss weekly progress reports, we used weekly task posting in the office. We gave students a week to do one project. If they did not complete it in the allotted time period, they were to mark it off their workbook or spreadsheet for next week. This kept them accountable and gave them an incentive to work harder for the next week. The goal here is to give students a clear path to follow to complete their assignments each week.
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We also used several instructional strategies outside of weekly meetings. During the summer months, we held short summer training sessions. Our trainers were seasoned professionals who focused on motivating our team members to be their best each day. They had developed several instructional strategies that helped our staff to stay on task. These strategies included setting clear goals, giving students a timeline to complete their assignment, providing instructions, providing feedback, and having fun.
When a student was not staying on task, they would often look for someone to talk to about their mistake. This only created additional confusion and frustration. Our office quickly became one of the most chaotic offices I have ever worked in. To create a more orderly workplace, we began to institute weekly office meetings that allowed everyone to voice their opinion. This worked wonderfully!
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The key to all of this is to have clear, concise, and concise goals. Once you set clear goals for your department, write them down on paper, and keep them in front of you. Then, give your team member’s personal goal sheets for each week to help them achieve their daily tasks. Creating weekly task sheets is an easy way to stay on task with your staff and your students.
Next, provide feedback for your weekly tasks. Some managers like to send a simple “thanks” email to all of the people who do a good job. Others prefer to send them an award notice. Whatever you choose, be sure to address it in your next meeting. This is an excellent way to reinforce the tasks that were done last week and remind all employees what is expected of them.
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Finally, allow your staff and students to have some fun. Having a time out is good for everyone. If your office can be converted into a “Fun Office”, you will find that there are less stress, more motivation, and that you are more productive.
Staying on task in your classroom or in your office is easier if you can create a schedule and stick to it. Using task worksheets can make this easier. Using a planner can help you keep everything organized and easily accessible when you need to see a list of completed tasks. Creating an effective schedule is one of the best things you can do to ensure effective task management.
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