Here’s seven tips for saving time as a teacher — from how to use your time more wisely to minimizing classroom distracts!
Everyone knows the well-used refrain: So much to do yet so little time. And teachers know this probably more than anyone else!
Read on for our list of seven time-saving tips and helpful hints that can help you free up more time to do the things you need and the things you love.
1. Get Organized
Organization is the key to time management. The first step is to make sure everything has a place. Divide your paperwork into categories (To Do/In Progress/Done), and find a fun way to keep it tidy.
Helpful Hint: Grab a few binder clips and label them by category! Print out labels using this free template from the folks at The Classroom Creative.
Also, involve students in tidying up your classroom at the end of the day. Get them engaged! Make cleanup time into a race, or offer a prize to whoever cleans up the most! If you’re an elementary teacher, getting your students excited about helping will be even easier.
If you’re lacking in organizational skills, find someone who has a good system going and offer to bring them a homemade lunch tomorrow in exchange for helping you get everything together.
(And no, Chef Boyardee is not an acceptable exchange!)
2. Plan Your Time Wisely
Take a look at a typical day for you. Take notes on where your time goes.
Identify your time-gobbling trends, and find ways to shave minutes off by reprioritizing the unimportant things.
For example, are you often late in the mornings because you’re getting your lunch and teaching materials together? Create a habit of packing everything up before you go to bed.
Put anything you think you might forget tomorrow in a bag and hang it from the front door handle the night before. If you have items you can’t hang up, place them right in front of the door so you won’t miss them on your way out in the morning!
If you find you’re wasting valuable teaching time dealing with behavioral issues, make sure you have a classroom management strategy ready — and use it!
Instead of arguing with a misbehaving student, save time by immediately assigning a warning or a consequence through a student behavior management platform like SchoolMint Hero.
Also, segment your time in ways that work for you.
Maybe you prefer putting aside 30 minutes per day to consistently whittle away at a large project. Or maybe you like to take one night a week and spend it knocking things out in one fell swoop.
Whatever you choose, make sure to schedule in time for it. And then stick to it. Don’t overwhelm yourself, and don’t forget to schedule in time to do the things you love!
Helpful Hint: Create a homework bin for absent students. Fill a crate with dated folders containing each day’s homework assignments, and designate an area for it. That way, when students come back to class, they can grab assignments for the day(s) they missed without having to ask you.
3. Know Your Priorities
That is, both inside the classroom and outside the classroom.
At school, before giving a lesson, make sure you have a clearly defined, attainable learning objective for your students that day. It’s easier to be well-prepared when you know exactly what you’re preparing for.
This means not biting off more than you can chew. Learning when to say no is a valuable skill, and evaluating your priorities before taking on new tasks can be a great way to keep your time free for the most important things.
4. Smart Lesson Planning
Stand on the shoulders of giants — and steal inspiration from their lesson plans.
When you see a teacher who has useful material, ask to borrow it!
Modifying a pre-existing lesson plan to fit your needs saves more time than creating entire lessons from scratch. Lesson Planet is a great place to find quality teaching resources, and Scholastic offers loads of free lesson plans and activities.
Keep an eye on education events in your area as well, since networking with other educators can be an incredibly useful resource and way for teachers to gather to share tips, tricks, and effective teaching strategies.
5. Eliminate Distractions
For yourself and your students!
That can range from creating a “cell phone jail” (or hotel, if you want a friendlier word for it) on your desk for technologically transgressing tots. Or it can even mean turning off your own technology when you’re home at night grading exams or homework.
Checking in on Facebook while you’re working just means you’ll be sitting at your desk that much longer.
Helpful Hint: Save time and eliminate distractions by creating a hand signal system for students to use in the classroom.
6. Use Technology Wisely
There are so many programs and apps out there for teachers!
Spend some time finding those that work well for you, and integrate them into your classroom and life as needed.
Google’s Calendar app is a great way to keep track of your day. And it’s free! Nifty features like multiple notification options and the ability to combine multiple calendars make it an easy way to keep track of your school and home events in one place.
School management systems like Schoolrunner by SchoolMint have a mobile app that can be used to take attendance, record behaviors, and log communications.
Schoolrunner even allows you to “star” students so that you can assign behaviors later on. Record voice notes in the comments so you don’t have to stop and type, and use the attendance feature to keep track of students even while on field trips or even in class!
And last, but certainly not least…
7. Get Enough Sleep!
We all know this, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. Sleep is good. Not only for your body but for your mind as well.
When you’re tired and run down, you make mistakes, forget things, and don’t operate as efficiently.