Tuesday, 4 May 2021

3 Time-Saving Tips for Teachers (Guest Blog Post by Ciara from Rahoo)


Ciara McGuane is the Summer Course Director for Rahoo.ie.

Her career highlights include being filmed by BBC London teaching in the classroom and guest-lecturing at the Institute of Education in London. She has worked as a teacher, school leader, teacher trainer and initial teacher training tutor prior to setting up Rahoo.

One of her favourite memories of teaching is when her class (with the help of kind colleagues!) organised a surprise engagement party for her and sung Bruno Mars “Just the Ways You Are” to her!

One of her most embarrassing moments is getting locked into the school building when working late in her NQT year, set off the alarm and had to squeeze under the big school gate and two women passing by had to drag her out! All caught on CCTV!

Ciara is passionate about teacher and student potential – and believes accessible, informal and enjoyable CPD is one of the best ways teachers can develop. She currently works with Rahoo and misses the classroom – she will be back someday soon!

She shares some insight into 3 time-saving tips for teachers:

 1.       Use a lesson planning framework

This is the ultimate tip in terms of stress-free lesson planning and halving your planning time! It creates total ease and flow for teachers and takes the hassle and the indecisiveness out of lesson planning and where to put activities.

According to Albert Einstein, “Everything must be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.” In order to achieve balance in lesson planning and in lessons themselves, it is best to have a system.

Of course, in teaching it is necessary to be flexible – as literally anything can happen to thwart your plans! Nevertheless, a system is solid and will help achieve consistency in the quality of lesson planning and lessons themselves. It doesn’t mean that all your lessons have to be the same, but by creating some sort of consistent approach, it will make the planning process flow easier.

I use the 4-Step Framework called KISS. This simple lesson planning process is explored in detail in Rahoo’s EPV Summer Course “Effective Lesson Planning”.

 2. Who are you spending time with?

 Whilst this may not necessarily be time-saving – it is time-preserving and management.

Be careful about who you choose to spend your time with – be conscious of staffroom politics, complaining and begrudgery that might negatively affect you in the moment, but also the rest of your day or week.

It is important to protect your time and energy. Teaching is a draining job – it saps your energy so make a conscious effort to gravitate towards people who lift you up.


 3.       Mark less, but better

 This is a huge bug bear of mine and something I come across regularly with teachers I work with. One of the biggest mistakes a teacher makes is thinking that ticking and flicking every page and signing their name is necessary and adequate marking. This is a huge drain on teacher time and resources.

If you are doing this, you need to reflect and ask yourself these questions:

What is the purpose of marking?

Who is it for?

The purpose of marking is for students to learn and improve from constructive feedback. The purpose of marking is also for the teacher to learn about how individual students are doing and if they need to tweak their teaching.

Marking is fundamentally for the students and their progress.

Please don’t fall into the trap of marking for the parents or principals. Many teacher tick and flick in books so that the parents or principals can see that they have looked at the page. Ticking and Flicking is NOT good quality feedback – it is not purposeful and it is a waste of your time.

It is better to choose a piece of work to mark – and mark that to a good standard using a feedback framework like two stars and a wish to provide constructive feedback to students.

There is a whole section on effective marking and feedback in the Work Smarter, Be Happier EPV Summer Course.

I hope you found these 3 time-saving tips useful – they are a snippet of what is shared in our EPV Summer Course “Work Smarter, Be Happier”. Please feel free to check it out HERE.

Thank you to Ms Forde for hosting this guest blog post!

 Le grĂ¡,


Rahoo Summer Course Director



Thursday, 29 April 2021

Novel Suggestions

 I have put together the following novel suggestions based on responses from teachers on Instagram. They might come in useful throughout the year or in Term 3.

You can also find more novel ideas in this post.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Parachute Games

 The summer term is almost upon us! Here are a few ideas of games that you could use with the parachute.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Choice Boards

 Choice Boards have been particularly useful over the past 2 months of distance learning.  It gives all children the opportunity to choose tasks that interest them and also allows the opportunity to challenge themselves.  They can also be used in the classroom and are great in multigrade settings.

I have created these over the past few weeks as freebies and will update this post as I create more! Click on each one below to download it.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

New Term Goal Setting

 This year, rather than New Year Resolutions, I am going to continue with an activity that I used last term.

Between October and Christmas, each child in my class chose one area that they were going to focus on.  Some examples were handwriting, presentation of their work, drawing skills, learning tables and spellings. 

We put them up in the classroom to remind us as the weeks went by.  Just before Christmas, we took them down and reviewed their progress.

It was very interesting to observe the goals they chose and how they self-assessed their progress. I also added a comment which really encouraged them.  It could also be a nice topic of discussion at parent-teacher meetings.
f you would like a copy, you can download it by clicking on the image below.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Foam Snowmen

This is a really fun Art lesson to do in the lead up to Christmas.  I got the idea from a colleague who had used shaving foam to make ice-cream cones in an Art lesson. The students loved the texture of the mixture, which feels like a marshmallow once it has dried.

What you need

  • Shaving foam
  • PVA glue
  • Coloured card
  • Big bowl
  • Spoons
  • Decorations (matchsticks, buttons, googly eyes, old socks as scarves, hats, nose)


How to make the foam

Add approximately 3 parts shaving foam to 1 part PVA glue to a bowl and stir.....that is it!

Draw a rough outline of 3 circles for the snowman on the card.

Using a big spoon and small spoon, add foam to the card (don't flatten it too much!)
Shape it roughly into circular shapes.

Add mini snowflakes/snowballs if you want.

Add your details to the snowman (nose, buttons etc.).
Allow to dry overnight and you have a really cute 3D foam snowman.


*Do a trail run first as different shaving foams can give different results. My first attempt looked great but didn't remain foamy the following day!
*Use card as paper won't be strong enough.
*Add all the decorations as soon as you have shaped the snowman (don't leave it to dry first!)

Other ways to use it:

  • Puffy Santa beard
  • Puffy Christmas Stocking
  • Add a tiny amount of paint to have coloured foam!

Monday, 23 November 2020

Report Writing Animals (Toucans)

Over the past few few weeks, we have been exploring Report Writing.  Our English reading texts were also based on this genre, as it provided examples of Report Writing for the children.

As we read the texts, we identified the information that was provided about the various animals: their appearance, habitat, what it eats, predators and some interesting facts.

We decided to explore toucans in more detail.  I sourced some short video clips to show the children.  This helped us to identify more about their appearance and habitat.  

I modelled how to chose the important information about toucans and we had a shared writing lesson to make a plan for writing about toucans under each of the headings. 

The following week, the children wrote their piece of Report Writing about toucans, using writing frames.  They also created some fabulous art to go with it.

The following resources were used to support the class, when developing their Report Writing skills.

Display Posters

Planning Templates

Self Assessment Checklist Freebie