Why is time management for teachers so important? Because it takes a lot to keep the classroom ship afloat. Most teachers perform hundreds of tasks on any given day. These time management tips for teachers will help you work smarter and enable you to make the most of your time before, during, and after school.
Time Management Tip #1: Protect your planning time
Lesson planning is ongoing. Set aside protected time when you do nothing else but plan or prep your lessons.
Consider setting a schedule for yourself for batch planning. Decide what days you will plan reading, math, etc. For example, you might plan two weeks of language arts on Monday and Tuesday and plan two weeks of math on Wednesday. I find batch planning to be the most efficient as I don’t have to switch my brain to another subject and I can think about and plan consecutive lessons.
Spacing out your planning and taking one subject at a time may not be for everyone, but even if you plan for one week at a time, setting aside a specific day for each subject can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Time Management Tip #2: Set Boundaries
Next to protecting yur planning time, the most important time management tip I can give is to set boundaries.
Teachers are often asked to take on several other tasks besides teaching. You may be asked to join several committees, lead different groups, or stay late for various reasons. Consider saying “no” when you need to. Of course, contractual obligations and teaching requirements must be met, but set boundaries for yourself to protect your family time and to prevent teacher burnout. Teachers are giving souls and often say “yes” to every request from their administrators, but that can quickly lead to exhaustion and feeling overworked. Prioritize yourself and your time. No one does their best work when they’re burned out.
Be Proactive with Grading
Just like planning, grading is ongoing. Stay on top of it by grading assignments right away, if possible, and then entering the grade straight into the software system your school uses. I’ve learned to avoid saving all the grading for one day of the week because if something comes up, it’s easy to get behind.
Have a grading party with your teammates. Everything is always easier with a buddy, so consider setting aside 30 minutes after school or during team time to grade together.
Create A To-Do List Before Leaving for the Day
When thinking about ways teachers can manage their time, making lists and prioritizing have helped me a lot. Creating a to-do list for the following morning will make the most of your time before school. By the end of the day, you probably already have a list going in your head so go ahead and write it down.
I especially like this strategy because I’m not spending 10-15 minutes every morning figuring out what I should be doing. With a list, I can get started right away. Lists always help me stay organized and start the day feeling productive. Plus, it feels great to cross things off!
Be Proactive with Technology
Most teachers are required to use several different apps and websites throughout the day for attendance, grading, behavior management, etc. Consider setting time aside at the beginning of the school year to truly get a handle on the technology you’ll be using and what you are required to use it for. Take notes, save your passwords, and be specific. Nothing is worse than trying to remember how to enter assignments into an online gradebook or forgetting the online procedure for requesting a sub. Spend the time learning how to navigate these things, and even write down the steps, so quick and easy tasks don’t become frustrating and time consuming.
Set Up Email Lists
One of my most important time management tips is to set up email group lists. Email is something most teachers use every single day. We need to communicate with our students’ parents as well as staff and other teachers. Consider making a distribution list for the people you email most often. Make a parent email list so that you can simply enter the name of that list instead of each email address individually. Making a distribution list for the teachers on your team saves time and ensures you never accidentally leave someone off an important email.
Establish Weekly Routines
There are so many teacher tasks and things in the classroom that are repeated weekly or bi-weekly. Establish a routine for yourself to make the best use of your time. For example, consider sending out your parent newsletter on the same day each week. Plan which day you will switch out centers. If you need to stay late to plan, decide which day of the week that will be. Consider having one day where you complete all of your copying.
Be on Time for Specials and Lunch
This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s so easy to lose track of time when you are teaching. Then you are scrambling to get your kids lined up and out the door. Consider having your students lined and up and ready to go five minutes before you actually need to be at your special classes or lunch. This ensures that you also have time to stop the line when needed to reinforce or redirect behavior if needed.
Make sure to get your students to special classes, lunch, and recess on time so they get their full time and you can maximize your time. Being late causes a domino effect. If you are five minutes late getting your class to lunch, you’ve lost five minutes of your own lunch time. No one wants that! Set an alarm on your phone so you are always on time and can take advantage of your whole planning time, or enjoy your lunch time.
Make the Most of Parent Volunteers
Many parents want to volunteer in and out of the classroom. Welcome their help with open arms! Setting up a volunteer routine will help make the most of their time in the classroom. I have a volunteer bin where I place things to be copied, cut out, or stapled with a sticky note giving any directions. I have a second bin with all the supplies needed, and the website address, for looking up and leveling books. Read time management tips for volunteers and how to make the most of their volunteer time HERE.
Volunteers can also work with small groups in your classroom reviewing skills or playing learning games with your students. For parents who wish to volunteer but can’t come to school, have them sharpen pencils at home, or cut out laminated items. Any small task that someone else can do, saves you time and helps your classroom run more smoothly.
Create Student Jobs and Leadership Roles
Consider assigning student jobs or leadership roles for things you do often but could be handled by a student. Have a student check attendance to see who is absent from each table. Assign students to pass out papers or to put fliers into student mailboxes. Consider having a student do end of the day clean up checks to make sure everyone packed up their lunchboxes, water bottles, etc. Have students place trash cans outside. Put students in charge of managing playground equipment. All of the jobs will need to be modeled and practiced at the beginning, but by giving students the responsibility they feel ownership of their classroom.
Over the years I’ve learned that time management for teachers is an art. We have so many things on our plates. But by managing your time and making the most of it while you are at school will help set you up for a successful year and a more balanced work life. Try these time management tips and let me know how it goes!
Let me do the planning for you
Did you know I have an entire shop of time-saving teaching resources? I’ve created highly engaging units for every subject area as well as classroom management resources and classroom decor. Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store and let me do the planning for you!
For more classroom management ideas visit these posts:
How to Manage Student Data Folders & Free Data Folder Kit