Time Management Tips for Teachers
Ten Time Management Tips for Teachers
Teaching can be a time-consuming career making it a challenge to juggle all the demands of the job. While you can’t control everything on your schedule, there are some strategies you can employ to make your workload more manageable.
- Prime Your Environment: Pay attention to the way you work. Do you often need sticky notes? Highlighters? Pens? Once you know the types of tools and space you need to do your best work, arrange your environment to maximize efficiency. Put most-frequently-used items close at hand to minimize the number of steps it takes to acquire them. Clear your desk of clutter in the area where you need to spread out. This way, when you sit down to work, you’re not wasting time taking extra steps or arranging your environment just toprepare to work.
- Prioritize your day by order of most importance: Once you know the most pressing items to address, address those items first, leaving everything else for later. Then, set a dedicated time to STOP working. Unless it is absolutely urgent, leave whatever doesn’t get done until the next day. It will wait for you.
- Is there a pending deadline?
- Do you have grades for some of your classes but none for others?
- Is there a meeting you have to prepare for?
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- Block Time: Use your calendar system to *literally* block off time for the tasks you need to accomplish that day. Eliminate distractions: shut your door if possible, move your phone away from where you are working, and turn off email or DM notifications on your laptop. (If you must make yourself available for emergencies, make sure you glance at the notifications only to check for urgency. Unless there is an immediate need for you in that moment, do not read the full email until later.)
- Track Your Time: Assign a color code to the types of non-instructional activities you engage in during the day. For example, meetings, grading, lesson planning, drafting/sending communications. As you work, track how much time you are spending on each task every day. Then, create a pie chart that shows that time in a holistic fashion. Identify patterns:
- Do some tasks take up more of your time than others?
- Are you wasting time anywhere?
- Spending too much time or not enough time on any given task?
- Are there ways you can reduce the amount of time you spend by implementing systems to streamline your work?
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- Do More With Less: Develop lesson plans that allow you to hit more learning targets with fewer assignments. Rather than assigning one assessment every skill or concept, have students complete informative work in class for each discrete skill in a way that allows for immediate feedback. When it comes time to develop a graded assessment, incorporate all of these skills into one assessment, allowing you to measure a range of skills via one work submission rather than multiple assessments.
- Chunk Your Work: Yep – the same approach we assign to our students works for us. Rather than trying to tackle a mountain of work submissions in one marathon day, divide the work up by instructional block, or by stacks of 10. Get through one chunk at a time and then move on to another task for a while to recharge your mental battery. After your mind has rested a bit return to the next chunk until you are all the way through the submissions.
- Submission Windows: Submission windows allow students to turn in their work any time during a fixed period of time. While many students will still wait until the last day to submit their work, you’d be surprised how many students will turn their work in on the earlier end of that window. Begin grading those submissions immediately, reducing the volume of submissions you need to grade on the final due date. Just like chunking, this allows you to grade in small batches, frontloading some of the work so that you free up time (and mental energy) later on.
- Delegate: Can some of the items on your “to-do” list be completed (in whole or in part) by others? For example, can you divide up a large task across the CLT to reduce the workload for each individual teacher? Can your students take on some of the work? (at the informative/formative stage, for example, can you delegate some of the grading and feedback to your students to free up time for you while still meeting their needs?)
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- Just Say No: It’s easy to feel pressure to say yes to everything. Yes, I will sponsor another club. Yes, I will lead the CLT. Yes, I will join the book study. While all of these activities may be meaningful and impactful, trying to complete all of them at one time will inevitably lead to burn out. Select 1-2 activities per year that you are willing to engage in and devote yourself fully to those activities. Say no to everything else. Period.
- Schedule Personal Time: Have a deadline by which all work will stop. Ideally, this should be no later than 2 hours after your contract period ends (and less than that is even better). There may be some circumstances where this is not possible: back-to-school night, sudden emergencies. But those should be rare, not daily. Be firm with your own time. As you track time, block time, delegate, and say no, you will find this becomes an easier goal to achieve.
Teach Better | Work Less
Teaching is a demanding job, but it doesn’t need to be all-consuming. If you or someone you know is struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance, we are here to help. Contact us to learn how we can help you teach better and work less.