You have a ton of assignments to grade, data to decipher, forms to fill out, professional development requirements, students to manage, a club you sponsor and a curriculum to cover. You are drowning and something has got to give. Let’s talk about way to keep your teaching life under control.
Teachers are multitaskers and that’s great, but are you spreading yourself to thin? Your home life does not need to be sacrificed to keep your school life organized. It’s time to get efficient and swim on top of the water! I’ve got some suggestions that will help you manage your responsibilities more easily.
Get a piece of paper and write down what you do on a daily basis at school. Circle the things that need to be done during your planning period. Are you able to complete these tasks? Probably not all of them. There just isn’t enough time. Keep this list in front of you as you continue reading.
Before we get into how to organize your time, think about things that you do that can be eliminated completely. Do you volunteer for too many things? Do you do class activities that require too much prep? What can you start saying “no” to? Don’t feel guilty. Really think about the importance of the items on your list. Is everything on your list a MUST DO task? If not, mark it off and in the future think before signing on for something that is a time-suck.
Let’s get organized! Take a closer look at your list. Are all of these things done every day? Do you need to do some on certain days? I’d like you to organize your list into a weekly plan. You do not have to be detailed. Just jot down 3 – 6 things that have to get done during the week on certain days. Here’s a Google Sheets Planner to use if you’d like.
Congratulations. You have taken the first step toward getting your teaching life in order!
Keep your list handy so that you can check things off as you complete them. During your planning period, put your phone away and forget about it for 30 minutes. You will be amazed at what you can get done. If you tend to get sidetracked, then instead of putting your phone away, set your phone’s timer for 20 minutes and tell yourself that you have to work for 20 minutes before you can get up and do anything else. This works really well when you don’t like the task you are doing. You know you can take a break after 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes is up, then set your timer for 10 minutes and go get a drink or look at your phone or stretch and meditate!
If you need more time to accomplish your tasks you may need to consider some other options:
- Can you come to school an hour earlier or stay an hour later?
- Can you put the kids to bed and work an hour at night or get up earlier and work at home?
How do you plan out what you need to teach? This can take a ton of time. To make things go smoother, you will need to arrange a block of time for planning your curriculum. I suggest to plan it out six to nine weeks at a time. Put this information on a calendar and don’t worry about being detailed. Just seeing what you need to teach will take that part of the task off your plate until you plan again for the next block. This might take you a couple of hours, but you only have to do it every few months.
Is grading out of control for you? Do you really need to grade everything? Can the students grade their own work on occasion? Can assignments be graded for completion? Can you grade something quickly by walking around and putting a sticker on the paper and move on? Be creative. You truly do not have to grade every assignment. If you will decide ahead of time what needs to be graded and what does not, you will love your life!
So let’s recap.
- Say NO to things that take you away from what you REALLY need to do.
- Plan out your week by using a checklist system.
- Set a timer when working and stay on task. (Or just put that phone away).
- If you need more time, look for an hour here or there that won’t steal time from your family.
- Plan your curriculum in 6 – 9 week increments.
- Don’t grade everything.
I hope this helps you. Being able to check things off a list is the greatest thing ever.
I hope your stress level decreases and you love your job more and feel great about being so organized!
Good luck! If you are a secondary math teacher and you are interested in receiving tips and freebies, feel free to join my email list.