Sam Hall’s Time Saving Tips for New Teachers
Students are amazing; they give me hope for our future and they remind me of the childlike wonder of youth. Being part of their life is inspiring, but to be honest, teaching can be absolutely exhausting. I have coffee, love and willpower. What I don’t have much of is time.
This sometimes leaves me with a feeling of guilt that I’m letting my students down. In those precious moments before students entered the classroom, I had a well planned checklist of items. By lunch, I usually lost my checklist and my plans completely changed.
Over the years I’ve learned some useful time saving tips that have helped out a lot in this profession. Some of them might be obvious, but others might challenge the way you view time management.
Keep the big picture in mind and plan for setbacks. Daily checklists have their place, but real planning starts with the big picture. Look at the overall plan, whether it be a unit you have coming up or even a set of parent/teacher conferences. Break up the big tasks into small, manageable ones. Lists are great, but you shouldn’t be spending more time making a list than actually doing what is on the list.
Read or listen to time management books: There are so many fantastic books out there about time management (yes, even ones that seem to focus on business management). An all time favorite is Steven Covey’s, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His take on time management works in all industries and is timeless. A huge takeaway is to carve out time for long term planning and problem solving. This will help you get some of those items that are “unimportant emergencies” to feel less overwhelming. Also, don’t forget the magic of audiobooks on your daily commute.
Grade less: Yes, I said it. You’re probably about to tell me all the reasons to grade more, and I’m sure the word “data” is in there somewhere. Not everything has to be graded, and not everything has to be graded by YOU. That’s right, get your students to help. Better yet, have students self-assess. This is a skill all students need, and for them to learn it, you have to let go of the pen.
Do not multi-task; bundle your tasks: As teachers, we are constantly balancing a million things. Did I teach this standard, am I scaffolding this new concept properly, did I check email today…on and on. Sometimes it is important just to stop and focus on one thing at a time. Try to give your students your undivided attention when teaching. Don’t worry, that email (and six more) will be there when you have a spare moment.
Automate with technology: Need to send out a quick parent announcement? Instead of looking up 20 different emails or phone numbers, rely on apps like ClassTag to automate communication. Using technology can save time and help automate those really consuming, yet important items, on your to-do list.
Collaborate: Great lesson plans don’t always have to be self-created! Struggling to create engaging lesson plans your first year can be tough. Ask other teachers for ideas or even a copy of their favorite tried and true lesson plan. Teachers love to share stories about lesson plans that worked well with students. Alternatively, you can also find great lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers.
I know your time is limited, so hopefully you got a few good pointers. This is a crazy time of year, so be sure to take time to rest!