Time management for teachers

When is your work as a teacher finished?

Well, never.

Teaching is never done. There will always be something more to do. Add to that a desire to do the best job possible for students, and what you’re left with is very little time for anything else.

That’s just the reality of the job. Every lesson is a work in progress which could be improved in some way.

That’s why time management is so important in teaching. Spend a little bit of time getting your time management system together and it’ll benefit everyone later on. Here’s a few things to try which will help you manage your time and, as such, teach more effectively.

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Be realistic

Be realistic, both about how long something is going to take and how much you’ll be able to do. Don’t take that whole set of books home when in reality you’ll only be able to get through half of them that evening.

Set clear aims

Set clear aims of what you intend to achieve in a set time. This will stop distractions and allow you to prioritise more effectively.

Use downtime

Use any downtime or quiet moments to work through that pile of marking.

If students are working independently, walk around the room and mark the work as they’re doing it. This allows you to check in real-time how they’re doing and reduce your marking load after the lesson.

Plan ahead 

This sounds obvious, but if you can avoid it, don’t schedule all of your assessments at the same time. I know that’s difficult with data deadlines and things, but you’ll do a much better job of setting and making those assessments if you’re not doing them all at once. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if you can get a couple of classes’ assessments out of the way earlier it’ll really help with your marking load.

Only put things on your to do list that really need to go on it

There is something in teaching that makes us want to create lists. Lists for everything!

While lists are a great way to keep on top of the stuff you need to do, they can become daunting and overwhelming. Before you add something to the list, think about whether you can do quickly, in which case do it straight away. An ever growing to do list can be daunting and overwhelming – keeping it short with just the big items will help keep you focused.

Consider the effectiveness

You can apply the Pareto Principle here, which is the idea that 80% of the results come from 20% of the energy. I’m not sure it applies quite that simply to teaching, but there is some truth in it.

Just keep in mind the question: is the thing you’re working on going to help students progress? If not, it’s not worth the time investment.

Done is better than perfect

Teaching is more of an art than a science, and as such it’ll never be perfect. Of course you should make it as good as you possibly can, but getting it done to a good standard is better than spending time agonising over the details.

Your time is the most valuable thing you have, so make sure every minute you spend is invested.

How can you use your time more effectively? 

Does everything you do impact the learning of your students?

Photo by Heather Zabriskie on Unsplash

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