One of the biggest challenges I face as a teacher, husband is time management, and I am sure this problem exists for many other teachers out there as well who are trying to balance work and family responsibilities. As we are getting close to graduation day for many “fresh” rookie teachers, let me take the chance to say, relish in this time and start building good habits. Even if you do not have a job yet start, building things you will need no matter where you teach or what subject such as lesson plan templates, seating chart templates or the framework for Moodle/Blackboard course. In this moment you have a ton of time, this is invaluable do not waste it, have some fun but also get the components in place to make life easier for you down the road.
Now to those of us that already have a hundred different responsibilities I say, Do What You Can When you Can. I have spent the last school year behind the eight-ball with a variety of projects. I am sure that if I had, had an extra five-hours in the day I would have been able to get more done or actually get a good night’s sleep, but instead I got done what need to be done and an ok night of sleep. Keep in mind that you have to be much more organized than most of your colleagues since you have to balance so many hats. That is why I have compiled a couple of tips to help keep your workload down and on task.
- To-Do List: A To-Do List may seem mundane but it can be extremely helpful to get smaller tasks done and out of the way. Several studies have shown that they can also help you stay on top of large tasks when they are broken down into smaller subtasks. Your To-Do list can be a sheet of paper, but at work I prefer to use Outlook’s built-in task management system, it also allows me to email tasks to my students as well.
- Bins: Organization is a big thing with me, I like to be able to know where to get an item is at any given time and plastic bins of various sizes are great for organizing all of the random stuff and supplies that accumulates around a teacher’s desk. Bins of any type also help students to know the locations of materials and supplies, so that they can get these items when needed without having to go to the teacher as a “gatekeeper”. This also builds in the knowledge with student of where to put the supply or piece of equipment once they are done with it, building in the responsibility to clean up once the student is done.
- Blog/Digital Classroom: I hate to make copies of assignments for my students or have to keep extra copies of an assignment on hand for that student who lost his/her assignment or simply threw it out. Since I create most of my own handouts, it is simple to post them to my Moodle courses and then direct the students to print out their own replacement copies either at the library or at home. Additionally, this gives students an incentive to keep their assignments organized and together as many of my student’s do not want to have to go to the library to print a new copy of an assignment. Blogs are also an important method for teachers to communicate with parents what is going on in class on a daily basis. Since writing a blog is a simple and easy process
- Procedures & Policies: This may seem like a tedious part of classroom management, but getting students in the habit of completing certain tasks on their own. An example of this would be students getting out and putting away lab equipment. A task that would normally eat up valuable class time by the teacher can be put onto the students, who can complete the task faster since it is a more distributed method.
- Visual References: Reference material posted around the classroom in poster style can be extremely valuable both as a “casual” learning tool and as quick-reference materials. Students can also use the charts while they are working to look up procedural steps or other referential information.