“Is it even possible to have personal time when I have to spend my conference/planning period doing everything but planning and so I have to do it all at home?” – from Being A Teacher: Concerns, Needs and What’s Lacking.
This was a question that a worried Top Notch Teaching reader asked in a survey I conducted here recently. This worried reader was responding to the question: What are your 3 biggest concerns with being a teacher? And many other teachers who completed the survey also felt that managing time as a teacher was a concern (30%).
So I wanted to put together a quick, encouraging reference guide for you all that shares some tips you can use that may help you manage your time as a teacher. A couple of months ago I wrote about how I was plagued with this very thing….I couldn’t seem to fit in all the things that I wanted and needed to do. So I asked for your expert help, and a number of you shared with us some eye-opening tips for managing time.
So I have read through all of the sensational tips and compiled them here for easy reference. I hope these wonderful ideas give you some new ways to manage your time.
10 Tips To Help Manage Your Time
1. Set aside time 1-2 days per week to stay a little later
- “On Thurs and Fri I set aside time to stay a little later after school to get caught up and get ready for next week. This allows me to not take too much home on the weekend. At school, I can get everything done in 1-2 hours, but at home it will inevitably take five!” (Tiff).
- “I find staying quite late one day a week really helps. I put on my headphones and go to work” (Maggie).
2. Set a weekday work schedule
- “I find that when I allocate set times to certain tasks, then I am much more productive” (Melinda).
- “I actually allocate times for before and after school for particular jobs. For instance, I use the first 30minutes after the school day finishes to ensure that I have everything set up and ready to go for the next day” (Melinda).
3. Only grade the minimum amount of student work
- “I also try to only grade the minimum amount of student work. At my school this is approx two grades per week. This doesn’t mean that I don’t check for understanding and provide feedback, but if I spent copious amounts of time grade and writing feedback on EVERYTHING my students do, I would be working forever” (Tiff).
- “I also have a schedule in which they turn in their notebooks so it’s only three students a day” (Maggie).
- “Another grade saver is that I do a lot of grading in 1-1 conferences. while the students are completing independent work, I call them up to my desk, read their work and give them a grade. It also means they get immediate feedback” (Maggie).
4. Multitask when students are doing independent work
- “When my students are doing independent work, I try to multitask and file papers, etc….. It also depends on the age of your students” (Tiff).
5. Use To Do Lists
- “To-do lists are essential to me” (Maggie).
- “First thing for me is to make to do lists every day, including things I need to do at home. I then prioritize so if everything doesn’t get done, the most important still have and I don’t have to feel bad” (Andrea).
- “I usually only put my top 3 priorities on the list for each day. This way there’s a fair chance that I’ll succeed and it helps me to really focus in on what are the most important things that need to be done in a day” (Melinda).
6. Have fully developed long term planning
- “Also having fully developed units. I remember last year (my first full year) I was planning and grading every night” (Maggie).
- “When I lesson plan, which I try to do at least two weeks at a time (so far unit planning hasn’t been within my grasp, but that’s ideal), I plan EVERYTHING from do nows (at least the skill they will do) and homework and decide which assignments will be graded” (Andrea).
7. Be realistic
- “I’m sure just like me you want to have that perfect classroom, with the perfect students, with the perfect everything….But let’s take a minute to reflect and be realistic on what is achievable with your students” (Melinda).
8. Make relaxation necessary
- “I always have a for fun book I’m reading. I schedule gym time” (Maggie).
9. Be organised on the home front
- “When you’re at home, then BE at home. I think it’s really important to set boundaries with work and home. If you work better at home than at school, then set clear times for working at home. When you leave school to come home, then leave your teacher bag at school and switch to home mode” (Melinda).
- “On the home front, I plan my meals and grocery shop for the week so I already know what I am cooking, what I need and how long it will take in the evening” (Andrea).
- “I now get all of my groceries delivered straight to my door, the bread, milk, veggies and meat once a week. This is a set order so that it just comes and I don’t need to think about it. Then the remainder of the groceries I do a monster online shop once a month that also gets delivered. It took a little bit of time to make it all work, but now that it does it’s so awesome and it feels like I have so much more time!!!” (Melinda).
10. Just Say No
- “I have made the promise to myself that I will….try really hard…..to say NO to the next organise this request. We have to know our limits and all this organising is now impinging on my quality planning time, which is now cutting into my family time. So my advice scale back on the less important things….JUST SAY NO!” (Tania).