I could probably write you a lengthy list of tasks that teachers are responsible for completing, but that’s not necessary because I know all your little heads are spinning right now with the mental lists that we are always making.
It can be overwhelming.
While there will ALWAYS be something else that you could be doing and your teacher to-do list will never truly be completed, there are ways to make it all more manageable.
One of the best tips I can offer to help you save time is to designate specific days / times to completing recurring tasks.
Start by making a list of all the things you need to do regularly.
Avoid including specific tasks like, “Put together work packet for Bobby because he’ll be on vacation. Instead include things like: make copies, correct work, record grades, file assessment, write lesson plans, etc.
Next, think about how much time these things will each take to complete and decide when the best time to work on them would be because it varies.
For example, at my school the copy room is buzzing from 8:00-8:20 a.m. Not only do I know I’ll need to wait in line for a copier while I’m up there, but I also know that while I’m waiting I’ll be chitchatting with my coworkers. So although I love me some chit chat, I avoid making copies at that time of day. In fact, if you factor in the time it takes to walk to the copier and possibly wait for a machine along with potential paper jams, a need to get more paper, the possibility of running into chit chat companions and multiply that times the 5 days in a school week it can add up to a lot of minutes...and every second counts.
I make my copies on a Friday afternoon because most of the staff has cleared out. That allows me to use more than one machine, focus on the task and get it done in less time. Also, because I’m in “the copy zone” I can then organize them all away into my weekly copy boxes. I can also bring up math games or literacy center pieces to cut out while the copier is running.
I also like to correct all the student work on the same day instead of a little each day. At the very least I like to correct all the work from one subject at one sitting. In addition to not needing to find answer keys, gather stickers, open my online grader, etc numerous times, I like that my mind is focused on one subject or student at a time which allows me to really focus my attention on each child’s progress.
I think you’ll find that by clumping tasks and making them part of your weekly routine, you will be more productive with those tasks and not feel like you have such an abundance of “to-dos” hanging over your head.
These are the “big tasks” I complete each week:
MONDAY: Correct Student Work, Enter Grades
TUESDAY: Lesson Plan Math and Science
WEDNESDAY: Lesson Plan ELA
THURSDAY: Create Homework Packets
FRIDAY: Make copies, prep materials
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