With everything you're responsible for as a new teacher, there are probably times when you feel like there are simply not enough minutes in the day. Continue reading for some actionable advice that can help you get the most out of your days - both in and out of the classroom.
Too Many Tasks, Too Little Time
As you've probably already gathered, the world of teaching can be a hectic, overwhelming place that demands a great deal of your time and energy. And as a new teacher, it's easy to see how you might not have the perfect daily rhythm or balance down pat just yet. To give you a hand, we've compiled some super actionable, teacher-approved tips that can help you maximize your efficiency inside of the classroom and out.
Getting the Most Out of Your Days
Create a Routine
First thing's first - in order to get the most out of your time, you should establish (and then follow!) a consistent daily routine that gives you the most bang for your buck. This means allowing yourself adequate time in the morning for waking up, getting ready for the day, drinking coffee, eating breakfast, making it to school on time, etc. You definitely DON'T want to start your days rushing around like a crazy person because you hit the snooze button five times! According to an article on Entrepreneur.com, it can be beneficial to use the first 30 minutes of each and every day scheduling and planning the day's tasks and activities - with approximate time slots if possible. This way you have a good rundown of the day's events before the day actually begins.
Unless you're some sort of magician (if you were, you probably wouldn't be reading this!), you know that you can't accomplish a million things in one day. This is why it can be very helpful to make a list of priorities every single day. Start your list with the most urgent tasks - the ones that MUST be accomplished that day. This might include starting the new math unit or giving this week's spelling test - things that have to be done in your classroom to keep it functioning and flowing. Next, think about some tasks that are important, but maybe not as urgent. This could be starting an art project, entering grades into the computer or even vacuuming your carpet at home. In other words, ask yourself, 'If these things get placed on hold until tomorrow, will it really be a big deal?' Go about your day with the priorities fresh in your mind, and you may find yourself getting more accomplished!
Keep a Detailed Time Log
If you are having trouble managing your time in and out of the classroom, another thing you can do is keep a detailed time log. According to blogger Scott H. Young, this can help you get a clearer picture of where in the world your time goes and how to better manage it. By logging your daily activities in 15- or 20-minute time blocks, you might discover that unnecessary activities (think social media) are taking up way too much of your time and preventing you from getting your necessary jobs done in a timely fashion. Logging your time can also give you a good idea of the amount of time it realistically takes to complete certain activities and tasks, which can help when it comes to scheduling and planning.
Maintain a Visible Schedule
According to a 2014 publication by Cleveland State University's Tachelle Banks and Scientific Research Publishing Inc., it can be very helpful to have a visible schedule with time slots set up in your classroom for students to refer to throughout the day. By having a visual reminder of daily tasks, students know what to expect and prepare for. This can also prevent you from spending time answering questions like, 'Do we have gym today?' or 'What time will we go to the library?' White boards work well for visible schedules since they can be easily erased and modified each day.
Use Common Sense when Assigning Homework
When it comes to homework, it's really important to think about the specific assignment before sending kids home to work on it. A pamphlet published by the AFT (American Federation of Teachers) indicates that homework assignments should reinforce skills that have already been taught in class (think practice worksheets) and not take too much time, among other characteristics. If homework has complex instructions and covers material that hasn't been touched on much in class, you risk the chance of spending a considerable chunk of the next day going over it.
All of this advice can be very useful for managing your time in and out of the classroom, but perhaps one of the most important things to remember is to always make time for yourself. If you find that your days allow for absolutely no 'you' time, chances are you're going to end up stressed to the max and struggling to get things done. An article by Alex Shevrin highlights some easy ways to keep a level head throughout the day (at school and at home), some of which include eating a protein-filled snack, getting outside to clear your head and spending time with those you love.