Some Easy Ways to Simplify Your Teaching Life (Part 2)

Teaching can be overwhelming.

So let’s not waste time with too much preamble and instead just jump into some more time-saving strategies that you can use to simplify your teaching life!

If you missed the 3 strategies introduced in Part 1, check out my previous post here!

Here are 4 more ways that you can simplify your teaching life:

4) Set up study groups.

I like to divide students into mixed-ability study groups for particularly challenging units. At the end of a lesson, the groups come together and review recent concepts.

Sometimes I’ll give a prompt or direction, and sometimes I let them lead the way.

It’s a super simple way for students to get to know each other, learn from each other, and consistently revisit topics rather than waiting for a test. I circulate to make sure they’re on topic, but it’s largely student-led.

Sometimes I use these study groups to do a Teams Tournament at the end of a unit, and sometimes I don’t.

(Note: I balance study groups with independent work time, which is also super important for many students!)

5) Embrace movies.

Find a quality documentary that can be used to teach, reinforce, or extend your content in a unit whenever possible.

My starting place is almost always PBS Nova, as they have episodes about all kinds of things that are around an hour long.

Movies are NOT a waste of time

They show content in a way you can’t do in a typical lecture, they expose students to research, they provide anchoring points for you to recall back to, and students are ALWAYS excited to walk into class when they know it’s a movie day. Win-win-win-win.

6) Don’t stress over bell work.

It’s super important to start the class off with some form of bell work (aka Bell ringers, Minds-on, Do Now, Warm-Up etc.).

Bell work ensures that your class begins with structure and gets students focused. It can also be used to practice recent content, do retrieval practice, preview upcoming content, or make connections with other subject areas.

To keep the process simple for yourself, feel free to grab questions from homework, from a textbook, from previous tests (yes, questions they’ve seen before!), or use open-ended question prompts like showing a photo or gif and asking students what they observe.

You can also use bell work to get students to find bell work! Have them pull out their notes every once in a while and ask for them to submit 2 review questions from a previous unit – BOOM lots of possible questions for future classes!

And of course, I always use this YouTube activity for part of the year.

7) Reset your workspace at the end of the day.

Before you leave for the day, tidy your space and set out what you need for the next day.

Make photocopies, get the lab supplies out, charge your computer, and brain dump a “To Do” list of things you plan to do tomorrow. This allows you to turn your brain off from school stuff as soon as you leave the building!

I hope these tips are helpful and allow you to simplify some of your teaching life this year. I’m rooting for you!

Scientifically Yours,


P.S. If you’re interested in weekly science teaching tips from me, CLICK HERE!

Interested in other helpful Teaching ideas? Check out:

Some Easy Ways to Simplify Your Teaching Life (Part 1)

6 Science Activities to Leave With a Sub That Are NOT “Busywork”

5 Easy Ongoing Science Activities to Engage Students All Year

Low-Pressure Icebreakers for the Science Classroom

High Quality Movies for the Science Classroom

A Surprisingly Simple Way to Deal with Cell Phones in the Classroom

7 Super Helpful Tips for New Science Teachers

Classroom Management Series #3: Tips for Reacting in the Moment

Classroom Management Series #2: Tips for Building Relationships

Classroom Management Series #1: Tips for Creating Systems 

The #1 Things Teachers Wish They Learned in Teachers College

How to Guarantee that Your Students Will Remember What They Learn

The Proven Blueprint to Using Movies in the Science Classroom

Using YouTube for a Low-Prep Bellringer

My Favorite Way to Start the Science School Year

My Classroom Must-Haves

My #1 Grading Hack