We all go into teaching because we love children. It excites us to see them learn. But classroom time isn’t all there is to our profession. Grading, recordkeeping, planning, parental communication, and extracurricular activities such as coaching and club sponsorship are all additional responsibilities we must take care of. It’s almost like homework for teachers. So, how can you stay ahead? Here are three time management keys that can help.
Key # 1
Redeem the Time
Everyone has the same number of minutes in the day. It’s how we use them that matters. Here are four easy ways to make the most of the time you have.
- Got a minute? Use a minute.
Multiply the usefulness of every moment. Pull out the items you’ll need for tomorrow’s lesson. Answer an email. Start grading that stack of quizzes. Even if all you have is five minutes, use that time to the fullest.
- Next-day prep.
Don’t wait to prepare for tomorrow’s lessons. Stay in the classroom after dismissal, and do it instead of taking the work home. It’ll get done faster.
- This worked, that didn’t.
Mark your expanded lesson plans daily—noting what worked and what didn’t. Otherwise, you’ll forget the next time you have to teach that lesson.
- Make yourself accountable.
If you announce when research papers, book reports, tests, and other assignments will be graded and returned, you’ll keep yourself on a grading schedule to meet the deadline.
Have you ever forgotten to check for something and found yourself shuffling through all your students’ papers again to double-check? If you’ll create a checklist or rubric (scoring guide) for specific grading tasks, you’ll have to touch each student’s work only once. Rubrics not only make you more accurate, but they also tell the student why they received a particular mark when the rubric is returned with the assignment. Here’s a suggested checklist for Abeka’s 6th-grade composition, including exactly what students have learned up to that point. If you’re following Abeka’s lesson plans, you can save time on the front end.
Key # 3
Know Your Limits
Parents appreciate teachers who have a welcoming attitude and make themselves available to talk. But limits and guidelines are essential. For example, invite parents to call you, rather than promising to call them regularly. Principal Donna Bowman, from Cramerton Christian School in North Carolina, offers this commonsense approach to parent phone calls:
- Give out your email and phone number. But screen your calls. There’s no law that states that you must answer every call when the phone rings.
- Also, enter all your parents’ phone numbers into your cell phone contacts, so that the incoming calls will be identified.
- Take a call if it is convenient; otherwise, allow the caller to leave a message that you can return on your schedule.
- Your outgoing message to parents should be, “During the school day, please call the school office and leave a message that you need to talk. I answer emails and messages at the end of the school day. Otherwise, call me anytime!”