Time Management for Teachers

I have a cute little book that my school gave me a few years back called "101 Time-Saving Tips for Teachers."  Besides being deliciously alliterative, there's some good ideas inside.  Here are 5 of my favorites:

5. Learn to say no to tasks that are really not that important to achieving your personal and professional goals or your school's mission. Take a few seconds to think about a request before committing yourself to any action.

Everyone knows saying no is important, but still we take on too much.  Over the years I have come up with a default answer: "Oh, that sounds fun!  Let me think about it."  It's positive, but noncommittal.  Of course, it doesn't work for everything (you may still need the sacks) but it gives others the sense that you don't like to be pressured, and it allows you to make decisions about how you will spend your time.

7. Eliminate clutter and devise ways to keep it from recurring.

This one made laugh out loud.  Oh, really?  That's all you need to do?  Kind of like a to-do list that begins, "Organize life."

13. When you pick up mail, deal with as much as possible immediately. Throw out anything you don't need. Sign or fill out forms and turn them in so that you take back to your room only those items that require more time and thought.

I do this at home, too.  90% of what I get goes straight into the recycle bin.  Anything that needs to be kept gets taken out of its envelope and put in its place: bills in the file box, postcards on the refrigerator, magazines in the basket.  This would really be a perfect system if I consistently got the mail.  However, my husband has a very different filing system, which consists of piles of mail placed at strategic points throughout the house.

36. Write a short assignment on the board before class for students to complete first thing when they arrive. This gives you some time to take care of other business while the class settles in.

This is probably THE most helpful thing I got from Fred Jones' book.  I used it for about half the year and not very consistently; this year I am determined to do it every single day.  It really establishes the rule that the classroom is for working; if you want to chat, stay out in the hall.  When you enter the classroom, you're expected to begin working immediately.

95. Breathe slowly and deeply. Inhale, hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat as needed.

This is not really a time-management tip, but the absolute best method for handling stress.  I extend the depth of inhalation and amount of breath-holding in proportion to my stress level.  It won't solve your problem, but it will give you your brain back so you can solve it yourself.