Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday Teaching Tips - Teacher Time Management

Teaching can be an all consuming profession.  I always found it so hard to separate myself from the job.  I feel like teaching is a way of life and not just a job.  People always say that you need to be able to leave your job at work, but I personally have never been able to do that.  I think about the job but especially the kids and my coworkers and friends all the time when I leave the school campus.

Well while I may not be able to fully separate my thoughts from my life as a teacher I can at least get myself off campus, right?

(Ever feel like this?  Found this amusingly accurate picture on PBS Kids!)

Over the years I've surveyed other teachers/friends trying to find a way to gain some balance.  After having my first baby I was in desperate need of such advice.  I needed to drastically cut back on the amount of work I did from home and on the amount of time I spent in school after the set work hours.  Here's some of the best advice I got for teacher time management and a few things I figured out worked for me in the process so that my teacher life did not consume my life outside of the classroom.

Getting Off Campus:

  • Set a time (ideally 1/2 hour - 1 hour after school hours) as a deadline for you to leave the school campus
  • Set a timer after the kids leave to do your work.  When the timer goes off it's time to leave . . . no matter what you are doing.  Just stop where you are and say bye-bye!
  • Allow yourself 1 day a week as a late day to stay as late as you want/need.  Make arrangements ahead of time for any other responsibilities (kids, appointments, other duties, etc.) so that you can stay late and get "everything" done on that one day without hindrance.
  • Schedule your responsibilities out ahead of time for particular days so that you tackle a little bit at a time.  For example: Divide your students into groups and assign each group a day to turn in journals or work in to you.  That way you are only checking a few journals/assignments each day and it won't feel as overwhelming.  Or maybe Mondays you check journals, Tuesdays you check Math work, etc.  
If you're like me, however, it's not just the work that you do at school that is all consuming.  I could spend endless hours working on stuff that I took home.  You know . . . teacher "homework".  

Once You're Off Campus:
  • Set a timer and allow yourself only that time to work on the things you bring home.  Try to make sure you have portioned that part of the day off to focus on just the work you brought home if possible.  When the timer goes off . . . that's it.  You're done!
  • Set aside 1 day during the week to dedicate a few hours to concentrate on that take home stuff.  My husband tried to give me one night a week to myself when he would watch our daughter and I could run to Starbucks or somewhere of my choice to have some "me time".  Honestly the time was supposed to be for me to relax and take time for myself, but I found myself overwhelmed with work that I had to do or felt I really needed to do so I ended up using my "me time" to do school stuff.  In a way it was sort of "me time" because if I got that stuff done I felt less stressed out.  If you have kids to look after I hope you've got a spouse or friend as wonderful as mine who could grant you that kind of time.
  • Schedule in some daily homework time for the family.  No matter where you are in life there's always room for growth.  School aged kids usually have homework and reading to do, but adults like your significant other/roommate/friends have areas they can grow in too.  If you section of a time in the afternoon or evening for everyone to take time to do some "growth work" then everyone becomes productive and concentrates on their own work!  ("Growth work" might include daily Bible reading, personal reading, study, professional development reading/activities, etc.)

I'm interested in hearing some of your strategies for Teacher Time Management.  If you have any ideas, they're definitely worth sharing!  What works for one may not work for others, so throw those ideas out in the comments below so others have more options to try out.

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