Teachers who manage their time well are more productive, more efficient, and more likely to meet their goals. In this month’s Ilm o Amal, we list tips which teachers can use to focus on important time sensitive tasks and limit the amount of time wasted on non-essentials.

One way to lower stress levels during the first few weeks of school is to be on top of your time management. Effective teaching is a balancing act that requires you to manage daily tasks, paperwork and your goals. Here are 12 tips that can help you manage time and that can help teachers increase their productivity and allocate more time to teaching.

1. Seek Help

Asking others for help is a great way to save time. For instance, Instead of spending too much time surfing the internet looking for appropriate lesson plans, just ask for help from a colleague or friends on your Facebook page or on Twitter. You might be surprised by the useful ideas that come your way. For instance, if you are looking for an idea for an activity on ‘Healthy eating’ for Grade 4, just post a question on Facebook or tweet your query. You can save a lot of time by simply writing something like ‘Attention teachers! Looking for ideas for a Grade 4 activity on Healthy Eating,’ and wait for the replies.

Another way to get help is to assign tasks such as helping to pass out papers or any other materials to students.

2. Prioritize

The average teacher has a lot on her plate and it makes sense for him or her to organise time by ordering tasks in order of importance. We are all familiar with the emergency drills that can disrupt a class or the student who distracts the class and interrupts the teacher’s daily tasks. However, when a teacher prioritizes her tasks, say where searching for the right lesson plan is number 1 on the list and assigning an art project is number 4, he or she can get it all done in the right order despite any interruptions. If you plan your day by creating to-do lists, you are likely to get a lot done.

3. Organise and Preplan

Preempt, preplan and organise everything that you possibly can. Ideally you should have labeled and organised your classroom before the school year starts. However, even if you didn’t manage to do that at the beginning of the school term, you can still file your papers, organise things into boxes and cabinets. This way you can save a lot of time later and find that your classroom will pretty much run on autopilot while you can focus on teaching.

Try and pull out all materials that you need for a lesson the day before and keep them together. Organise your paperwork and divide it into categories such as ‘To do’, ‘to grade’ and ‘to read’ etc.

4. Set Aside Time to Prepare

Once or twice a week try to stay a little late at school to catch up on work and prepare yourself for the next week or next day. While you may want to hurry and reach home as soon as possible after the work day ends it pays to stick around and get work done. This way you won’t have to take everything home and you can get a solid 1 or 2 hours of work done in the school, that might take much longer to finish if you were home.

5. Plan for Transition Times

Have short quick activities for transition times between lessons and break. When you have these activities planned in advance, transitions run more smoothly.

6. Plan your Lessons

Some schools require teachers to keep all their lesson plans organized in a file or a notebook. Even if your school does not require you to do this, it is a good idea to organize your lesson plans. This will help you stay on task. You can also check out app or websites that have lesson plans ready and can help you organize your plans.

7. Cut back on phone and device use

Put aside your cell phone to avoid getting distracted by personal messages while in school. Use your phone only if required for work.

8. Multitask

This will depend on how old your students are and how much they need to be managed. Some people find that while students are doing independent work, the teacher can use that time to multitask. This is a great way to get small paperwork out of the way or finish small tasks such as organising a file or drawer.

9. Go Easy on Yourself

Every teachers aspires to have the perfect classroom with the best behaved students. However, you have to be realistic and know that in real life the most organized of teachers can have a curveball thrown his or her way. Prepare to have everything under control each day, but at the same time adjust your expectations about what is achievable by you and your students.

10. Relax

Where you are taking out the time to juggle all aspects of your work, it is also important to take out the time to relax. Whether it is reading a book or going to yoga class, slot in the time to do something for yourself in your schedule. This will help you recharge and become motivated to get back to work.

11. Organise your Home

We are very lucky to be living in an age where we have several tools that help us stay organised. It is easier to maintain a work-life balance with a little help from technology. Switch off school mode when you are home. It is extremely important to set boundaries between home and school. Plan ahead and shop with a grocery shopping list and if possible plan your meals a week ahead too. Many shops offer free delivery of groceries, so utilize the service if you have access to it. Try shopping online wherever possible.

12. Scale Back

While it is tempting to take on all the requests and tasks that demand our time, try saying ‘no’. Know your limits and understand that every request you take on is eating into time that you may have slotted for family or other important personal and professional tasks. Take a look at your commitments and start saying ‘no’ and cut back on whatever is not so important.

Do you have a time management tip that you think others will find useful? Please share it with us.

August 2017