Five Time Management Tips for Teachers 

Posted: 12th August 2021


“There is never enough time in the day”… is a phrase muttered by thousands of teachers everyday. The juggling act for teachers consists of organising the classroom, organising the school day, assessing the children, staff meetings, phase meetings, leadership meetings, parent interactions, planning, leading support staff, preparing resources to name just a few…. Oh and did we forget to mention – we have to fit in 6-7 hours of teaching everyday.  

We recently sent out a survey to our audience which gave participants the opportunity to share the main challenges they face on a day to day basis. 51% of participants said that ‘lack of time’ was the main challenge faced followed by 21% of participants feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. The rest of our participants found digesting the curriculum content as well as keeping up with curriculum changes a problem. 

If you fall into the 51% category with the main challenge for you being ‘lack of time’, this is the blog for you. We will be exploring five time management tips for teachers as recommended by Hayley. Hayley has been teaching for 12 years and has become a bit of an expert with time management. Read on to see what Hayley has to say… 

5 Time Management Tips 

I have been teaching for 12 years. When I first started to teach, I really struggled with time management. I could only describe the job as a full time job even without the hours of teaching. I tried to get to school for around 7:30am and would often leave at 6pm taking home additional work. 12 years on, I no longer bring home work with me, I leave at a reasonable hour and feel like my work life balance has improved. Here are some tips that have helped me over the years to feel organised, saving me time throughout the working week. 

Simplify your working week 

Planning can be a lot to get your head around especially when you are looking at your colleagues’ planning. We share our planning between a team of three, but sometimes when you haven’t written the plans (even though we had discussed what those plans would be), it can be hard to connect with them. 

I know some of you will be reading this and saying…. ‘How can you share your plans? Your planning should reflect the needs of your individual children!!!’ I would have been the teacher to shout those words a few years ago and I absolutely agree with you, however, even if we had written all of our own plans we need to adapt them anyway for the 30 different learners within our room. Absolutely no plan will be a fit for all. I will adapt planning to suit my learners through differentiation and after years of doing it myself (spending hours on planning each week), I now 100% know that I can do the same by using somebody else’s planning, for example if I used my colleagues English plans that week, I am still able to adapt the lessons to suit the learners within my classroom. 

The results in my classroom are just as good, the progress within my room is just as evident and the engagement is on point! This arrangement works wonders for my team and we can smash out our plans in record time. Also, if we are just focussing on one subject area, we can really spend that extra time making the lessons super fun and engaging for all of our students. If you use this approach, you need to be ready to talk about how the plans are adapted for your individual learners just in case you are questioned by leadership or anyone visiting the school. 

When my team puts our planning together for the week, it becomes a hefty, long document. It takes time to go through the planning for each lesson to understand what it is you’re doing and what resources you need. Therefore, on a Monday morning (this is often a quiet time as other teachers are getting ready for their week), I go through the hefty document and I simplify my week. I use my Edubox curriculum planner to map out what my week looks like. I note the important things needed and have a to do list of what needs to be completed by the end of the week. This is quick to refer to throughout the week. 

Attachement 1

 

If you would like to know more about our curriculum planners, click here!

Find a time to prepare all of your resources for the following week

With my amazing, hardworking team we work extremely hard to ensure we get the bulk of the planning for the following week, completed before the middle of the week. I allocate an hour or two on a Thursday after school to read through the planning for the following week. I then together all of the resources I need for the following week. The photocopier for some reason is rarely used on a Thursday after school. I therefore get any photo copying complete, I raid the Maths cupboard for resources, I get my flash cards ready and phonics resources ready for each day. I will also look at other resources I can make for each lesson and make sure I get them made. I will make a cup of tea, wack my music on the whiteboard (at the moment the Hamilton soundtrack really gets me motivated). The laminator goes on and I get productive before I leave home. 

I place all the resources I need in my drawers which are organised by day. This idea was inspired by a post I saw in a blog (ATTACHMENT 2) which can be found at – http://mrsterhune.blogspot.com/2018/06/classroom-organization-storage-ideas-10.html

I love having everything I need every day ready for me to use. Because all of this is complete by Thursday, I leave early every Friday. When I get to work on Monday, everything is ready and I am ready to go. The first thing I do is walk to the staffroom, get my cup of tea and start getting ready in my classroom. It is really satisfying walking past the queue at the photocopier knowing that I will not need to visit the photocopier or resource cupboards again during that week. 

A Thursday after school might not work for you, but I would recommend choosing a time where the school is relatively quiet. I think Thursday is quiet at my school as we have no after school meeting so teachers tend to leave a little earlier. 

 

Strong tidy up routine. 

This one for me is so important. I spend a lot of my time at the beginning of the school year going over routines and expectations. I explicitly teach how to tidy the book corner at the end of the day, I model putting the resources back in the correct boxes, I even demonstrate how to replace all stationery in the shared table caddies at the end of the day. I have table wipers and dustpan sweepers as allocated jobs for the week. 

At the end of the day, I allocate a good 10-15 minutes of tidying the classroom and sharpening the pencils. No items are left on the floor, all books are positioned with spines facing outwards in the children’s individual book boxes, unclaimed items are taken to lost property and admin letters are taken to the office by the children.  

I remember early on in my teaching career saying to my colleagues at the end of a staff meeting… ‘Right, I had better go and tidy my classroom before I can start my to-do list’. The students in my class are now solely responsible for the neatness of my classroom. It is an important skill to learn and I have seen an increase in pride for the children’s work and environment. I also do not have to worry about tidying the classroom at the end of the day. The children have already cleaned it ready for the quality learning in a neat and orderly classroom the next day. 

 

Marking on the go

Lugging home a set of English books and a set of Maths books after school has become a thing of a past for me. I try to do as much ‘on the go’ marking as possible. Sometimes this can be difficult as I am often working with my focus group, but as I’m working with these children I will give them written feedback on the spot. I will then set them up for some independent work and will walk around the room and will offer feedback to as many other students as possible. I currently follow the ‘green for great’ and ‘pink for think’ marking method. I simplify what I write with symbols displayed around the classroom. For example, instead of writing in pink, ‘next time, please remember to include your full stops’, I will simply draw a pink circle with a full stop inside or instead of writing in green, ‘verbal feedback given’, I will simply write VF. The students know what these symbols mean and it really does reduce your workload. 

I also have a set of stamps. I thought really carefully before purchasing a set of stamps about what stamps could reduce my workload. I thought of things that I wrote often like – ‘Please remember to return your reading book everyday so it can be changed’ or ‘Well done on reading every night this week’. I therefore purchased some stamps with similar phrases on. Now when I go round checking children’s reading records, I can quickly leave a comment using my stamps. I purchased my stamps from a former teacher called Maria. She has a wonderful range and will make custom stamps for you. She is based in Melbourne, Australia but she does post to the UK. Check out her website here – https://www.stampitbymissm.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw24qHBhCnARIsAPbdtlIJh5ci9qunStmEcx08hBVfwt1Ex6sxKHuioOL5GoJrhy38LqilTkQaAsPOEALw_wcB

 

Regular communication with parents through Class Dojo. 

This is a controversial one – this may or may not be for you. In my team of 10 teachers, only 2 of us are using class dojo to regularly communicate with parents, myself and another teacher who happened to be my student teacher last year. 

Yes, you can send your parents an email, yes you can phone them when you need to, however, class dojo is as easy as using Instagram or Facebook. Parents have it as an app on their phone and receive a notification when they receive any correspondence from the class teacher. I find it much quicker to send my parents a quick message through the dojo either on my laptop or on my phone. Writing an email seems a lot more formal to me, so it often takes a bit of time. Phone calls are tricky, I mean we are full time teachers? A lot have children… What are the chances our breaks align with parents ‘ breaks at work? It can sometimes be a logistical nightmare trying to get in touch with our parents by phone. Class dojo solves both of these problems for me. 

Now… the reason it is controversial for others is because I have messages binging to my phone at all sorts of times throughout the day. This understandably doesn’t sit well for many teachers and they prefer to switch off after a certain time. Rest assured you can change the settings so you can limit times of the day when you don’t want to receive any messages. 

Personally, I leave mine on, I don’t get that many messages during out of school hours, but if I do, I really don’t mind replying. I would only be scrolling on facebook anyway and as I see it, it will save me more time the following day. 

The reason I have added this one to the list is because, since using class dojo , giving the parents quick access to get in contact with me, I have had not one issue from any parent. All parents can ask me a quick question, I can resolve any concerns very quickly and my cohort of parents seem very happy. I feel like this has saved me so much time throughout the years. Thank you Class dojo. 

Did I also mention – Class dojo is completely free. It is my most valued resource. 

To find out more about class dojo – head on over to here – https://www.classdojo.com/?redirect=true#LearnMore

 

Thank you for reading my five time management tips for teachers. For other articles related to time management for teachers check out – 

 

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