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3 ways teachers can use AI to save time

february 22, 2024

Hey teachers—how would you say your well-being is these days? Because let’s be honest, the data on teacher well-being in America is bleak to say the least. This is a tough job, and over the past few years, it's gotten even tougher.

I believe AI is the best tool for actually moving the needle on teacher wellness. Why? In my opinion, while teachers everywhere appreciate the free burrito during Teachers Appreciation Week or the occasional coffee gift card, what teachers truly need to restore their well-being are more sustainable systems that provide a semblance of work/life balance. AI can help provide that balance by taking over some of the grunt work, communication, and creative tasks that make teaching such a busy job.

Let’s explore how AI can help teachers win back one of their most precious resources: Time.

1. Let AI brainstorm unit ideas for you

Let’s start with the easy stuff: AI is essentially a super smart search engine that takes the extra leap of not only finding the information that you need, but starting to format and synthesize it in a way that helps get you started on big or small tasks.

Here’s an example of how you might lesson plan using generative AI, and for the purposes of this article, I’m putting my prompts into ChatGPT:

Prompt: "Brainstorm a list of unit ideas for first grade social studies." (Note: This would also be a great place to include specific standards you are trying to hit)

The results:

Partial ChatGPT results for the prompt "Brainstorm a list of unit ideas for first grade social studies."

Click here to view the complete results of this prompt.

2. Let AI unit plan, lesson plan, and create material lists for you

Now, let’s say you settle on the “My Community” idea from the list above. You might follow up with this:

Prompt: "Generate an entire unit based on My Community for first graders."

The results:

Partial ChatGPT results for the prompt "Generate an entire unit based on My Community for first graders."

Click here to view the complete results of this prompt.

Now you can get even more granular.

Prompt: "What materials would I need for week one?"

The results:

Partial ChatGPT results for the prompt "What materials would I need for week one? "

Click here to view the complete results of this prompt.

This list goes on and on and as you can see, you would likely need to edit or fine tune a few pieces of this plan, but this is enough to really get you thinking.

3. Use AI to assist you with your emails

Prompt: "Write an email pitching this unit to my fellow first grade teachers."

The results:

Partial ChatGPT results for the prompt "Write an email pitching this unit to my fellow first grade teachers."

Click here to view the complete results of this prompt.

BONUS: Wondering how you can double check if AI answers are accurate?

The best way to double check AI accuracy is to use a mix of research and your own professional judgement. AI chat tools are still in the early stages, and they can be wrong—and when they’re wrong, they’re often confidently wrong. So as professionals, a good rule of thumb is to use AI in an 80/20 ratio. Let AI take you 80% of the way on a task, and then you come in for the refining and corrections in the final 20%.

Wrapping up: Embrace a growth mindset and have fun

This is just a tiny taste of what AI can do! There are tons of tools that can help you gain back time and protect your peace. Even if you don’t view yourself as “techy,” I want to challenge you to push yourself a bit and embrace that growth mindset we work so hard to instill in our students. Have fun! Go explore!

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