Happy Tuesday, friends! I can’t believe this is the last week of our teacher organization series! Today’s post is a little different as it is all about time management for teachers. We’ve mostly been focused on getting our classroom organized for the new school year, but time management is such an important part of staying organized as well! I wanted to make sure to spend some time talking about this before the series ended.
As you know, I pride myself on my organizational skills as a teacher. But I also consider myself a really great manager of my time. Time is EVERYTHING as a teacher! We have a countless number of things going on at any given moment, so it is so important that we learn how to manage our time effectively. That’s why today I want to share with you my best tips for time management for teachers.
Tips for Time Management for Teachers
Between managing class schedules, getting to specials/lunch/recess on time, finding the time to grade and make copies and lesson plan, plus meetings and duties, teachers have a lot on their plates! And we’re expected to do everything in 8 hours, all while managing 25 students each with different needs and abilities. Truly, teachers are superheroes.
I learned my first year teaching that time management for teachers was key if I wanted to have any kind of a life outside of school. So, I spent the next 4 years really focusing on managing my time well during the day. Our school day runs from 7:30-3:30, and I am proud to say that most days I don’t work more than a 7:00-4:00 day. Of course there are a few exceptions to that, but it’s true most of the time.
How do I do this? Well, first and foremost it involves a lot of discipline! But I’ve figured out a few tricks along the well to help me make the most of my day.
Keep a Tight Class Schedule
My first time management tip for teachers is to keep your time with your students structured!! Get them on a tight schedule and do not budge on it. This is important because if you get behind with them, you will end up spending a lot of unnecessary time having to rework your lesson plans. Also, if you are late dropping them off to their specials classes or lunch, that cuts into your planning time.
Sometimes it is necessary to rework your class schedule or lesson plans, and I certainly don’t want to discourage you from doing so if it is truly what your students need. However, I often find that teachers get behind during the day simply because they are not managing their time well. They drop their kids off late to other classes or spend too long on an activity because they lost track of time. Don’t do this to yourself! Keep those kiddos on track. They need the structure, and you need the time!
My best tip for helping keep your class on a tight schedule is to use timers for everything. I set alarms on my phone for 5 minutes before we need to be anywhere – specials, lunch, recess, dismissal. I do this 5 minutes early because that signals me that it’s time to start transitioning if we haven’t already. If the alarm doesn’t go off until we need to be there, well, then we’re probably going to be late.
I also set timers for all class activities. Determine beforehand a reasonable amount of time for students to complete their work, and then set a timer when they begin so you don’t let them go too long. If they don’t finish within the time limit, they can finish their work at recess, specials, or at home. This not only helps keep you on schedule, it teaches students valuable time management skills as well!
I usually just set timers on my phone, but have also enjoyed using these classroom timers. They are fun and you can project them so your students can see exactly how much time they have left at all times.
Use Your Planning Time Wisely
Believe me, I’ve had my days where I dropped my kids off at P.E. and then just sat down in my classroom and stared at a wall for 30 minutes. It happens. But, as much as possible, I try to get as much done during my breaks as I possibly can. I like to do batch work, where I choose one big thing to focus on at a time, and only do that until it’s done. Then I move on to something else.
For example, I might choose one day to focus on grading and use all my spare time doing that. Once I finish that, I’ll choose another task to focus on, such as lesson planning or making copies. I find that I am more productive this way, rather than wasting a lot of time transitioning from one task to the next.
Also, prioritize! Don’t waste your time doing things that don’t need to be done until next month. Save that for another day. Get done what needs to be done today first, then move on to what needs to be done this week, then next week, and so on. If it doesn’t need to get done today, then you can feel okay leaving it behind at school to work on tomorrow.
Write It Down!
Okay, I know not everyone is a write it down person, but I think everyone should be. Honestly, I have a pretty great memory, but even I will forget the milk at the grocery store if I don’t put it on my list. (And we ALWAYS buy milk).
Writing things down allows you to clear your mind and really focus without having to worry about forgetting something. I always keep sticky notes and notepads lying around my desk so I can quickly jot down a to-do or shopping list when I need to. I’ve also liked to use a planner or calendar to help keep me on top of meetings, special events, or what lesson I’m teaching each day.
There are so many pretty teacher planners out there, but currently I just use this blank calendar template I made. It is free for download in my TpT store if you’re looking for a simple solution!
Of course, there are many apps and websites that can help with this, too if you prefer to go digital. I often set alarms on my phone if something I need to do is time sensitive! Currently I use Asana as my business to-do list. I like that I can create categories to sort my tasks. You can even add people to your team and assign tasks to others! It is made more for big businesses, but really, anyone can use it – and it’s free!
Stay Late One Day Per Week
Honestly, I hope you don’t even need to do this! But, if you must stay late because you have a lot on your plate, try to limit yourself to only staying late once per week.
Pick a day and decide what the latest time you will leave is. I started doing this my first year teaching and it helped me tremendously! Thursday was my day because I had somewhere to be at 7:00pm and it was out of my way to go home first. I would stay until 6 getting everything ready for the next week, then run and get some dinner and head to where I needed to be. This definitely saved my sanity as I had so much to do (#firstyearteacherprobz) but was already so burned out from basically living at school.
So, if you absolutely MUST, stay late just ONE day per week. But only if you must. If you don’t need to, then please, go home!
Hopefully these tips for time management for teachers have been helpful to you! Organizing your classroom is important, but I think time management is the number one trick to keeping your sanity! Don’t allow yourself to get so behind that you are constantly staying at work late or bringing work home. That will lead to teacher burnout, and quick! This year, make it your goal to manage your time wisely and get yourself home as soon as you can each day!
Don’t forget to check back on Thursday for the last post in this series! If you missed any of the other posts, you can check them out here:
Part 1: Organization Basics
Part 2: Organization on a Budget
Part 3: How to Organize Paper Clutter
Part 4: Teacher Storage Ideas
Part 5: Teacher Time Management
Part 6: Teacher Organization Tips