With so much on your teaching plate, it's easy to see how you could get burned out pretty quickly. This post looks at five effective time management tips that will help you get the most out of your time and avoid that dreaded teacher burnout.
Time Management for Teachers
As a new teacher, it can be challenging to get all your ducks in a row--especially when it comes to the delicate balance of getting everything done and still having 'you' time. Between all the tasks that come with running a classroom, tending to students' needs and having other school-wide responsibilities, time often runs short. This can lead to teacher burnout, which is characterized by intense feelings of stress and exhaustion on all levels--mental, emotional and physical. Thankfully there are some great teacher-approved tips that can help you manage your time and steer clear of the burnout.
1. Don't Be Afraid to Accept a Helping Hand
First thing's first: you're a new teacher, and you shouldn't feel bad or ashamed if you accept--or ask for--help when you need it. If you are fortunate enough to have a teacher assistant or aide assigned to your classroom, this can be a total game changer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, teacher assistants are responsible for reinforcing lesson content with students who need extra help, enforcing rules and encouraging good student behavior, helping teachers with attendance, grading papers and supervising students when needed. These things can all free up time and reduce your work load. If you do not have a teacher assistant, enlist the help of a few students and/or parent volunteers each week to help with various classroom tasks. Any amount of help can assist you in running a more efficient classroom!
2. Make a Weekly Schedule
It can be pretty hard to accomplish all of the things you are responsible for each week without some sort of schedule to keep you on task. Every week, create a schedule with specific times for tasks each day (Monday-Friday). Maia Heyck-Merlin, founder of The Together Group, says this schedule could follow a template, be handwritten or be totally electronic--whichever you prefer. Maybe it works out best for you to stay after school for an hour or two on Mondays and Thursdays. You can use this time to grade papers, plan lessons or get organized for classroom activities--whatever needs to be done. On the other hand, maybe it's more feasible for you to come in an hour before school starts on certain days. Find a routine that works for you and try to stick with it. By setting time slots for specific tasks, it can be much easier to manage and complete them.
3. Pick and Choose What to Grade
Another great time management tip is to pick and choose which assignments to grade, rather than grading every single one. Many school districts only require teachers to enter a certain number of grades each week, so by entering only the minimum amount for each subject, you'll have more time for other tasks. This doesn't mean the other assignments will go unnoticed, but you can employ other 'grading' methods to make sure your students are retaining information. According to an article published on Edutopia, a great alternative 'grading' strategy is to allow students to perform peer assessments on certain assignments (i.e., the ones you don't grade). This gives students a chance to learn from one another, practice fairness and understand the assignments on a totally different level.
4. Stay Organized
Although you've probably heard it a hundred times, organization is key to managing time and stress. An organized classroom will help you maximize your efficiency as well as your students' potential. Check out these handy organization tips you can use in your classroom:
- To save time when it comes to homework, create a 'homework station' for your students with four different colored baskets or trays. For example, use red for homework that is complete and ready to be turned in. Green can be used for homework assignments that need to go home. You can use blue for a folder of past homework assignments for absent students, and yellow can be used for incomplete assignments that students need help with. Students should quickly grasp the concept and take on a more active role in their homework, and it will prevent you from answering the ever-present questions like 'Did I turn that assignment in?' and 'What did I miss when I was gone?'
- Depending on the size of your class, divide students into equal groups, and color code them. On Mondays, check the red group's assignments for the past week. On Tuesdays, check the blue group's assignments and so on. If you limit yourself to only grading a certain number of students' assignments every day, you can save time.
- Have a designated bulletin board for important paperwork--preferably behind your desk. As soon as you get something that needs your attention, pin it up so it's right there looking you in the face. This will not only prevent you from forgetting about it, but will ensure that important papers don't get lost in the daily shuffle.
5. Leave Time for Yourself
Last but not least, you must remember to leave time for yourself if you want to keep your sanity and avoid the dreaded teacher burnout. If you find yourself bringing your work home, try your best to stop. Make schedule adjustments at school to ensure you leave your job at your job. If you allow your profession to take over your entire life, you risk becoming stressed to the max, and this can then make it harder to complete required tasks in a timely manner. According to the National Education Association, taking time for yourself and doing things you enjoy really helps to keep stress at bay. This could be taking a yoga class, walking your dog, unwinding with a glass of wine or simply watching an episode (or 3!) of your favorite Netflix series.