Time saving tips for teachers
Anyone who has worked in a classroom can attest to the fact that time is not an infinite resource. Modern teachers are constantly struggling to get their work completed efficiently, and working with children requires a fair amount of multi-tasking. Making sure everyone has their pens and pencils, helping any struggling student and ensuring all teaching targets are met all at the same time can be difficult for anyone. This level of multi-tasking can lead to distraction and before you know it you are snowed under with mini goals that you have not been able to complete. Luckily there are a few handy tips to help the struggling teacher increase their time management skills. These include:
1. Prepare daily, weekly and monthly checklists
When it comes to time management it is best to start from the very beginning. When you are prepping and setting up your classroom each morning, take note of what needs to be completed by the end of the day. For long-term goals, divide these tasks into smaller goals and create weekly or monthly checklists instead. At the end of each day you can reuse the list again, adding amendments where necessary.
Some things you could add to your daily checklist include:
- check student homework
- stack chairs on tables
- sharpen pencils and coloured crayons
- mark science work
- change reading books
On your weekly to-do list, you could include:
- wash the whiteboards
- plan next week's lessons
- prep materials and photocopy worksheets
- meet with a fellow teacher or parent
On your monthly checklist, you might include:
- plan new units
- organise assessments
- create a monthly newsletter
Once you have divided your tasks into categories you can use colour coding to prioritise them. For instance, the tasks with highest priority can get a red sticker, and the ones of least concern can get a blue one. This will help you know what tasks to tackle first and which can be left until later on. Checking off finished tasks is a great way of not only improving your time management skills but also giving you an added sense of accomplishment. When each day ends you can look at your list, recognise what you have managed to get done and plan ahead for tomorrow.
2. Always have student name labels printed out
You can have up to 30 children in each of your classes, so don't worry if you often forget a child's name when they raise their hand or you want to ask them a question. Some find remembering names easier by saying it and learning the name through oral means, while others have better success learning visually. For these kinds of teachers a name label can be a godsend. It allows them to link a name to a face and memorise it unconsciously.
Printing the names of students onto multiple labels is a useful trick - remember to keep a file saved on your computer so you can print more off if you need to as well. Think of how often the student will need to label something, for instance, starting a new workbook after filling their old one. If they need to do this in the middle of a lesson it can disrupt your schedule. Always having a label on hand will prevent this from happening. They also come in handy when your class has a visitor or a new pupil joins the school. This way they can learn the other children's names quickly and with ease.
3. Assign students with their own number
When it comes to time management, being organised is key. Giving each student their own number for the whole school year will help immensely. When they have all learnt it you can use the number system to have them line up in order. You can also use it for labelling and filing their work, as well as their pens and pencils. Some teachers even find it handy to call their students by their number (though this can seem rather impersonal). One of the great things about assigning a number is that it is a tool you can use all year round. Its number of applications is limited only by the teacher's imagination.
4. Have an organisation system
Keeping the classroom neat and organised will help save time greatly. As the old saying goes "a place for everything and everything in its place." A teacher should decide on a set place for where their teaching materials, supplies and student work need to be stored. Maintaining this system will keep the classroom schedule running smoothly all year round. At the end of each day put everything back in its correct place and have your students tidy up after themselves before they leave the classroom.
5. Create activities for early finishers
It's likely you'll have a range of abilities in your class, so for those that are likely to finish their work first, create activity cards to keep them occupied while you work with pupils who may require more one-to-one learning. These independent activities can include puzzles, books, maths games and trivia questions. Students will be able to complete these activities themselves without any extra teaching. You could even have students mark each other's activities to save yourself more time. Keep these activities in a portfolio so pupils can access them without your help once they've completed their set work.