Educators have so many responsibilities each day. The work does not end when the school day does (nor over the weekend). Daily teaching schedules can become so filled with all of the tasks that teachers have that it leaves very little time for anything else. We can lose a lot of time trying to balance all of the tasks and make time for continued learning and growing as educators. It is important that we find methods and focus on being more balanced—at least as balanced as we possibly can during the year—while also setting aside time for professional learning.
Especially during the past couple of years, as we have all experienced so many changes, it has been challenging to keep up at times. With so much to balance, it is not surprising that we often lose focus on self-care or can feel like we just are not accomplishing enough. Something that has worked well for me and that may be helpful for others is having a list of ideas that can save time, reduce stress and lead to greater efficiency. Having shortcuts or even hacks for doing the things that tend to take up the most time makes a big difference.
Here are ten tips for getting teaching time back:
- Find a focus: Think about ideas you want to try and make a list. Then, break that list into priorities and set up a schedule. By choosing a focus for each day, week, or even month, it will help us follow through with plans and feel more efficient and effective. For a start, think about topics that you read about over the summer or even ideas that you hoped to try last year but ran out of time. Make a list and hold yourself to it, and even consider creating a plan with a colleague. It can definitely help to have a friend to collaborate with you and you can keep each other accountable.
- Finding time-saving hacks: One secret that I have shared the most, which some have called a ‘game-changer’ is that I use the voice-to-text feature of email and documents to do most of my writing. I’ve done this for years and it has saved so much time that I can then devote to family and personal interests. Emails, parent forms, review materials, blogs, and even books have been generated by simply speaking into the phone and then editing as needed.
- Have backup plans and ideas: Keep a list of ideas to use just in case the schedule changes, technology does not work, or something else comes up. Having some backup plans will save you from losing time when trying to find a solution.
- Use tech when with purpose: Leverage technology when it makes sense. How can you bring in digital tools that will save you time which can then be used for working with students and colleagues? Focus on the why and then how it facilitates more with less.
- Chunk similar tasks together: What are some of the tasks that you have on a regular basis? Group them to make a better workflow. Create assessments or lesson plans on the same day/same time. Pick a day to make phone calls home or schedule meetings.
- Schedule emails: There is nothing wrong with creating a document or using your email provided to create canned responses. Do you often write similar emails or have a common response? Create a canned response that saves you time later. Also, schedule emails to send at a certain day and time so that you reduce the influx of emails that can happen.
- Make to-do lists: Use a calendar, create a daily to-do list and have tasks that become part of a consistent routine. Plan out the week and then cross off the tasks you complete before adding more to the list.
- Leverage tech: Save time with meetings in person or with challenging schedules by using some different tools to connect with students and families. Rely on the messaging apps or video conferencing tools your school uses.
- Choose versatile tools: Don’t overwhelm yourself, your students or their families, by choosing a lot of different tools. Find a few that offer many possibilities for use in the classroom.
- Fix your classroom set up: At the end of each day, take care of your materials before leaving school so you are ready the next day. Make any copies, set out papers, and write notes on the board so that you can be better organized ahead of time.
About the Author
Rachelle Dené Poth is an ed-tech consultant, presenter, attorney, author, and teacher. Rachelle teaches Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology at Riverview Junior-Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle has a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. She is a Consultant and Speaker, owner of ThriveinEDU LLC Consulting.
She is an ISTE Certified Educator and currently serves as the past -president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and on the Leadership team of the Mobile Learning Network. At ISTE19, she received the Making IT Happen Award and a Presidential Gold Award for volunteer service to education. She is also a Buncee Ambassador, Nearpod PioNear, and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.
Rachelle is the author of seven books and is a blogger for Getting Smart, Defined Learning, and NEO LMS. Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU https://anchor.fm/rdene915.
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