Cook’s Corner is authored by Mallory Cook, MEA’s Director of Training and Early Educator Engagement. Each issue in Cook’s Corner you will find useful information that is intended to help you in your day-to-day work. 

How many decisions do educators make each day?

With confidence, a room full of early career educators at MEA’s recent Spring Conference shouted thousands. Can I use the restroom? Can I sit next to Johnny? Can I color on this sheet? The decisions are endless, and decision fatigue is a real issue for educators.

Research from the 80s and 90s told us that educators make around 1,500 decisions a day, but experts argue that number is much higher today. With new technology and a necessary focus on social and emotional learning, our educators spend much of their day making choices, and the choices we make have a profound impact on our learning environment and our rapport with students.

Knowing this, I wanted to share a resource that has the potential to improve classroom transitions and maybe, just maybe, take a few decisions off your plate. Much like anything in education, it will take a bit of backwards planning and some frontloading, but in the end, I hope you find it useful.

The Transition Plan is a strategy that encourages you to select a transition that happens routinely in your classroom. If you’re like me, you might choose one that tends to drive you mad – one that just doesn’t seem to be working. In my high school English classroom, I can say with confidence that bathroom requests topped that list. There may have been days I made 1,500 decisions on bathroom requests alone. With a little reflection (and this transition plan), I quickly learned that I was contributing to the madness. I had not explicitly taught and reinforced my expectations.

See the example above.

While it might seem trivial to be so explicit in bathroom procedures with young adults, consider how many different classrooms they visit each day. When we assume our expectations are known, we can set ourselves up for disappointment… and so many decisions. I’ve also found myself adapting this for my three-year-old, who loves to please us, but behaves like, well, a three-year-old. Identifying the intended outcome, what is expected of him, what is expected of me, and how I will reinforce those behaviors or respond when we’ve forgotten the expectation, makes our experience much more enjoyable.

Ready to give it a try? Consider a transition that has been a challenge this year or one that could be improved. Click here to access an editable PDF copy of the chart.