It’s been a few years since I left the teaching world full time, but I’m lucky enough to do the odd day here and there still to keep my hand in, but one of the most important skills – time management – has never left me. I don’t think non teachers (and TAs) know exactly what it’s like to manage your time as a teacher. There are no leisurely hours checking your emails – you have to do that on the fly. It’s difficult to find time to grab a sandwich let alone go out for lunch (can you imagine!). That’s not to say that other professions are easier or better, they are just different. Teaching has NO downtime, not even at the end of term. So I’ve put together my top teaching time saving tips, but please feel free to comment with yours as well.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are no medals for doing everything yourself. Use resource websites like this Mrs Mactivity, share planning and ideas with other teachers either within your school or digitally e.g. on facebook groups. You don’t need to do everything from scratch!
- Displays – if it’s not your thing, it’s never going to be your thing. Some people love doing them, but if you don’t – make them child focused – put their work up. It’s the best way anyway and will save you HOURS!
- Marking – can take HOURS. If your schools’ marking policy is over onerous, be brave and discuss alternatives with your SLT. There is no requirement from Ofsted to do specific marking – it’s whatever works best for your children. Ask your children to pile the books in the middle of the table already open at the right page. This will save valuable minutes so you don’t have to flick through each book to the right page. I also used to try and mark as many books as possible during the actual lesson – that way you can feedback in a meaningful way too.
- Admin tasks like photocopying should not be done by teaching staff. Again, speak to your SLT about alternatives so you’re not spending your time doing time consuming repetitive tasks. If you have to, then make sure you photocopy the day before – if something happens to the copier and it’s not working on the day, this causes stress!
- Keeping your classroom tidy should not be your job – it’s the job of everyone in your classroom including the children. Give children specific jobs and hold them responsible if things aren’t up to scratch. It’s a good life skill if nothing else!
- Store and file resources for the next year. This wasn’t something I was good at doing, but try to get into the habit of finding a good system for storing resources for each topic for the next year – in a filing cabinet or some sort of wallet. You will thank yourself next year, if you are in the same year group of course!
- Marking assessments – I found it quicker to mark the same question on each child’s test paper at the same time, then move onto the next question. Not for everyone, but it means your mind can move on!
- PPA – if you have a choice, try to have this earlier in the week rather than the end. Earlier in the week your mind will be fresher and you’ll get more done. By Friday afternoon you’ll be so tired you’ll achieve nothing.
- Enjoy your weekends. Have at least one (if not two) work free days at the weekend to refresh and recharge your batteries. You’ll be a better teacher (and friend, sister, daughter, husband, son, wife etc) because of it.
- One thing I wish I’d done more – challenge the status quo (within reason). If there are unnecessary meetings that could be communicated via email – say something! If reports take too long – talk about a better system. If planning is on a super long format – look into other methods. Don’t just accept things if they are eating into your precious time.
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