Scroll through social media for just a few minutes and you’ll get the impression that teachers hate Artificial Intelligence tools like ChatGPT for the way that they make it much easier for students to get away with cheating. And, sure, that’s an issue that needs to be discussed and addressed, but it’s not a new problem. Students have been trying to find the fastest and easiest way to get an A since the dawn of grades. If they don’t feel that an assignment has value for them, they’ll use any shortcut they can. It’s our job to design activities that build and measure student mastery of our content, by making them engaging, relevant, and personal.

But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. The truth is that we have known for years which strategies work best. We know what we need to do to get students motivated to learn. We know how to make learning meaningful to them. We know how to build a culture of feedback and continuous improvement in our spaces.

But, these proven techniques don’t get used because they require ENORMOUS amounts of time and energy. As educators, we are given less and less time to bring about more and more learning of more and more targets (academic, cognitive, behavioral, social, emotional). When adjusted for inflation, we are paid less and less to do this work and forced to spend more and more of our personal time trying to get it done. It leads to burnout, turnover, and a general feeling of exhaustion. We are done, y’all.

And that’s where AI comes in. In small ways, tools like ChatGPT, Claude, and Gemini (and more specialized tools like MagicSchool and Pedogog.ai ) are making it just a little bit easier to push our teaching in the right direction. By helping us with some of the heavier lifts, these genAI tools are like an escalator that helps us to reach higher places with a bit less time and effort.

Here’s an example. I know that I should be spending the end of my school year getting my students to reflect on their learning and their growth. But, every minute of these last few weeks is spent on cramming for the big standardized tests, administering the tests, giving the retests, and managing students who HATE to spend 4 hours each day sitting in a chair in a quiet room clicking on answers on a Chromebook. When I get a few minutes with my students, I’m more likely to play a round of Heads Up with them than get them thinking about this year. I’m as tired as they are.

But this year, I sat down in front of my ChatGPT chat box and I typed,

Give me 10 writing prompts for 8th grade students to reflect on their year of learning in Science class. Make the prompts fun and engaging and easy to write about in 30 minutes. Include ideas for collaborative feedback and a simple rubric for scoring their answers.

The output wasn’t perfect. It needed some tweaking from a skilled and experienced classroom teacher. Many of the 10 writing prompts wouldn’t work with my students. Some of them needed to be rephrased a bit. The rubric was a good start but I needed to take a few minutes to adjust it. But, with 5 minutes of chatbot interaction and about 30 minutes of editing, I have a great final activity that will get my students into a reflective headspace here at the end of the year.

And maybe best of all, I get to walk around the classroom giving live feedback, reading what they are writing, and having some fantastic conversations with these students before it’s time to say goodbye.

Thanks, ChatGPT.