I don’t know about you, but time is a seriously precious commodity. So much so that I’ve often thought about trading my delicious weekly hotdogs from the canteen to get just a little bit more.
Then I remember I’m not some warlock who could mysteriously make more time whenever it’s needed. Plus, the hotdogs are too ridiculously delectable to give away…for anything.
You better believe it.
As teachers we are always scrambling to the next thing, chasing a thing up, searching for a thing to use in class or trying to remember what thing we were supposed to have done – yesterday.
Whilst we can’t simply whip a wand out, shout an incantation and enjoy some good ol’ fashioned frozen time, there are some simple tricks to help get the most out of a typical week.
Put Aside Time for Checking Emails
Every day I try and put aside two bits of time before and after school for email. The morning is a quick 15 minutes to do a check to see if there are any major things to be aware or that I might need to follow up for the day.
Anything else that requires more time or attention gets picked up after school…when I’m not thinking about the million things we carefully balance throughout a typical day.
The afternoon session is usually 15-30 minutes to touch base or reply to and call parents, follow up things identified in the morning and generally wrap up anything needed. As you get into a habit of putting this time aside you’ll get quicker at wrapping things up.
Finally, I’m heading home before the sun goes down!
Book in Time for Some Creativity and Imagining
Ah, my favourite time of the week. I only started doing this a couple of years ago, but it’s a small thing that can make even the worst of weeks that little bit better. We know teaching is a creative job – every single day we are crafting messages, telling stories, selling ideas and seeking to connect some of the toughest audiences you’ll ever face.
What do you mean you’re not interested in dividing fractions?
We spend so much time giving most of ourselves to others. Book in some time throughout the week where you get to write down any ridiculous personal or professional ideas you have.
- Ice caves trek through northern India? Jot it down!
- Using water balloons, digital scales and targets for a lesson combining chance language, capacity, weight, percentages and estimation (and kids/teachers possibly getting soaked)? Add it to the list!
- App idea that will change the whole education landscape? Get those ideas down!
It’s important to still be able to get excited or inspired about things…even as a grown adult/big kid. Put some time aside for you and don’t forget to do it each week!
Bring on ice treks, water balloons and game changing apps!
Use Planning Time for What It Is Really For…
There’s nothing worse then finally getting some time to smash out that next lesson, unit or week of upcoming targeted group work, only to find at the end of your time you really don’t have much to show for it.
The first you need to do is work out what you are actually planning. If you just go in thinking “get Week Four sorted” it can be a hell of a lot harder to stay focused and actually feel like you’ve achieved something.
It’s been two weeks and I still haven’t started anything…
Be specific. Plan guided reading groups, humanities sessions for the next two weeks or Circle Time activities for two weeks.
Turn up with resources you have thought about using, or have had recommended. Don’t dump a pile of books…you’ll just end up using your time looking through books. Be selective with a couple of resources you know are relevant.
Set a deadline – twenty, thirty, forty minutes – then leave your mobile out of the room, get rid of all those tabs you have open to limit distractions (or open a new window for your work). Then do what you said you were going to do! Get it done!
You know you can.
Make Time for Celebrating What You HAVE Done
This is a simple and easy one to do. My wife and I at some point throughout the week will talk about small or big things we’re proud of accomplishing. We usually do this at the start or end of dinner, or during a walk around the streets. Things like not turning up to school with my daughter’s snot on my pants, getting that quiet kid to laugh out loud or running a meeting where people left excited about upcoming things.
As teachers we often remember the things we haven’t done, even though there are a HUGE number of things we are doing. Think about these, share them and then celebrate them (I find a crisp high five, knowing smile or slight head nod with a knowing smile is a great way to celebrate).
Take a mental bow, you’ve earned it.
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