Time is precious. Time is money. Time is something we often struggle with. The lack of time.
For teachers time is precious. We need to estimate how much time each activity we’re planning will take. We need to consider fast finishers, then the ones who need this little extra time. We need to remember we might not start our lesson on time because of latecomers and all the time it takes kids to sit down…
And then there’s our own time. Time for ourselves, time for our families, which sometimes turns into time to mark papers or prepare lessons. I’ve found a number of teachers who struggle with time outside the classroom because they want to find the perfect exercise and because they don’t want to keep using the same materials over and over again.
This along with so many other demands from the job leads to stress and when we can’t think straight, things tend to get worse.
I found this article “Top 10 resources to help teachers manage their time – The Guardian” quite interesting. It’s got some suggestions and resources which teachers can use.
My own tips for time management? Here are a few.
For your lesson:
- Write down your lesson plan. It does not need to be a 10 page lesson plan, but do write it down. It helps you to be more aware of what you are going to do in class and how long you’re going to need.
- Think about your lesson aim. If you have a clear lesson aim you’re more likely to be able to organize your lesson better and make it more time realistic.
- Estimate how long an activity is going to take, but allow some extra time. For example 5m – 10m. Plan your total lesson time bearing in mind the maximum time for each activity. If at the end of the lesson you find yourself to have covered everything play a game like “Hangman” as revision for the vocabulary in the lesson or from previous lessons. The next lesson try reducing the estimated time per activity and including one or two more.
- Observe other teachers. Talk to your DoS or one of your colleagues and ask if you can go in and observe how they manage their time. Pay particular attention to how lessons start and finish and to the amount of work given to the learners throughout the lesson.
- Observe yourself and your lesson plan. Deliberately plan your lesson as if you were going to be observed and then, during the lesson, observe how long each activity is taking and whether your estimates were accurate enough. This way you’ll be more aware of time for the coming lessons.
Outside the classroom:
- Be realistic about the amount of homework you set to be taken home for marking. If learners complain it is too much, chances are it is going to be a lot for you to mark, too. If possible use online platforms like Moodle, where you can include some fun, interactive activities (and which you can build cooperatively with other teachers in the school) which give immediate feedback once the answers are submitted.
- Are you volunteering to participate in every activity the school promotes? Then chances are you have too much on your plate. It’s OK to say “No” you know, even if it’s just now and then.
- Recycle lessons. And if you’re using a coursebook, use post-its to plan your lessons on the book so you can use it some other time. And use the Teacher’s book. It doesn’t have the answers only. It can help you with time and staging so that you don’t spend ours looking for material.
- Don’t spend hours looking for materials.
- Sleep. Go to bed early and enjoy weekends and your days off. No guilt about those essays you need to mark. Just remember you need to rest and relax just like everyone else.
After all we are super teachers, but at the end of the day we’re just human beings.