Thursday, 25 June 2015

Time Management Tips for Teachers!

Here are some small, doable steps that will help you manage how overwhelmed you feel.

Get the Noise Out of Your Head

The key to getting the noise out of your head and get a grip on things is to first make a plan. Keep telling yourself “First things first,” and keep breathing deeply. There are two good ways of doing this; either schedule tasks on a calendar or create a mind map of everything you should be doing. Whichever way you choose, do it as if your life depended on it! I plan everything in advance and I mean everything! Once you have everything on your list, it’s time to prioritize. Start with items that are most critical and apply the Do, Delegate, Defer, or Dump approach. 

Resolve that for each item you will either:

Do it - put it on the calendar for you to do.

Delegate it - decide if you can delegate the task to a teaching assistant and either write a note with the request and clear direction or put a meeting on the calendar to discuss it with them.

Defer it - decide the task is not a priority at this time and leave it on the list to revisit it once all your priorities are sorted.

Dump it - determine the item is simply not important enough and that it is coming off your list.

Make Sure You Create a Good Morning Routine

The way you start your day can make or break it. If you start well, chances are your day will become good. But if you don’t, then your day might not be as good as it could be. That’s why you need to have a good morning routine. Routines are helpful because they optimize your time and help you conserve precious mental energy for the important decisions. Get up early and take control of your day. Begin by jump-starting your mind and body. One of the hardest aspects to starting the day can be simply getting out of bed. I place the alarm across the room as it forces me to get up and out of bed. Once your alarm goes off, adding additional sensory stimuli, such as turning on a bedroom light or browsing your phone for a few minutes, can help energize the brain. I drink two pints of ice cold water, not only does it give a slight shock to your system it helps to clean out your system and to re hydrate. Even slight dehydration has been shown to induce tension, anxiety and fatigue which is no way to start the day. Exercise should be an important part of your morning routine. Exercise will give your mind an energy boost. As a result, you will be able to think more clearly and accomplish more during the day. You will feel more confident and refreshed and as a consequence you will be able to maintain your enthusiasm. Follow this with a healthy breakfast. 

Advice on marking

It’s almost impossible to comment and review every piece of work that your students do.  Instead establish a pattern of regular marking that is sharply focused with achievable marking targets, such as ten books or assignments per night and stick to it!. Have a cut off time in the evening and do not work beyond it. You can make your life easier by using a fair proportion of peer and self assessed tasks in your lessons.  Pupils want to be engaged in their learning, so get them involved in the management of their learning space and assessment of each other’s learning. A point to note is that when marking work be aware that distractions will kill your productivity. Therefore before you begin your first task make sure your desk is free from clutter. Make sure your email alerts are turned off, shut done all extraneous browsers on your computer, silence your phone, you do not want to be bothered by your various forms of social media. Don’t tempt yourself with anything that will catch your eye or ear or pull your thoughts away from what you are doing.  Work-life balanceDo not work more than 50 hours per week! Try to make sure you have a day off each week when you do no school work and you plan a relaxing event. You need some social time to keep some semblance of normal life and keep things in perspective.  Make sure you do something unconnected with teaching that is relaxing and enjoyable each weekend.Important one-off family events, such as weddings are important. Don't be too afraid to ask if you can go. You might want to check what the precedent is but always make a polite request directly to the head teacher in person and be prepared to team up with colleagues to cover each other from time-to-time to oil the wheels.

Personal Organisation

Thought multi-tasking was an attribute? Think again! Several important studies have recently come to light that revealed multitasking to actually be counterproductive. If you think you'll do more in less time just by completing two or three tasks at once, you're simply wrong. I often use the timer on my iPhone to help me focus. Whenever the timer runs, I have to work on the task. If I’m going to switch to something else, I will have to stop the timer. This makes me less likely to get distracted because I have to consciously stop the timer to switch to something else.Give yourself a time limit. Always have a cut off point when your work will finish. Overwork will not help anyone in the long run.

Advice on lesson planning!

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel! When teachers experience overload we often find that they are over-planning their lessons or trying to generate too many resources themselves. It's really important to build up a bank of readily available shared resources and to develop an agile approach to teaching that enables you to get students working and engaged without relying too heavily on you and your materials. Collaborate more and try and team up with colleagues to share the planning tasks. The @TeacherToolkit Five Minute Lesson Plan is a big hit for a reason; it models skeletal lesson planning that is time efficient and effective.Avoid energy drains
If you have negative voices around you, take yourself away from them. People love to moan and sometimes we all need to let off steam but don't surround yourself with the perpetual moaners in the staffroom; they will bring you down. Steer clear of staffroom politics and gossip. It wastes time and is often negative and unproductive. Be your own judge of character.

Writing Reports

Plan ahead for report writing and use statement banks intelligently.  Most schools have an electronic system for generating reports, which includes a database of standard phrases that can be tailored to suit most circumstances. Some schools use one of the non-pupil days for this. If your school does not then commit to a time-frame for report writing well in advance and stick with it.  can be a useful resource. Never be afraid to ask colleagues for supportBe proactive about problems by asking for help if you need it. Don’t think that this is a sign of weakness; on the contrary, it is a sign of strength and is a good way to get the support you need to resolve the problem. There is almost always someone at work, it may be a teacher from another department, who will listen and give you some time, and will be on your side. Talking therapies are great if you can talk to the right sort of person. Often you don't need advice, just someone to listen to you. Plan a focused observation of an experienced colleague, and discuss this beforehand you’re your tutor.Reflect and celebrateMake sure you take the time to reflect on your day, figure out what worked well and what didn't. Reflection is guaranteed to increase your future productivity. In order to keep your motivation high it is important to then celebrate what you have achieved. It can be as simple as crossing off the items in your to do list. Accomplishment is a powerful feeling. Having a personal reward system will do wonders for your motivation. Seeing how far you have gone will motivate you to go even further.


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