Time is GOLD for teachers.
I am unapologetic about protecting my own time and my teaching time, from ‘gravel’ that takes me away from my main job – ensuring that my students can meet benchmarks and succeed in their assessment.
I like to focus on BIG ROCKS. What are big rocks, I hear you say?
They are the important tasks that teachers need to complete:
- Planning for student achievement and learning
- Resourcing their classroom and lessons with fresh, exciting, and purposeful texts and materials
- Knowing their students and what they need to ‘bump up’ to the next level
- Maintaining student data, assessment and reporting
- Communicating with colleagues, stakeholders and parents
- Maintain their duty of care when on school grounds
Here are some time-suck tasks that teachers get drawn into:
- Marking all student work (teach them how to do this themselves and for each other, using checklists and learning walls)
- Gossiping in the staff room at lunch and then staying back after work to complete important tasks
- Reading email on the run and then again when they have time (read it at set times during the day and allow time to respond)
- Low-impact activities such as weekly spelling tests, group rotations with filler tasks and disordered transitions
- Completing tasks for parents, such as tracking student behaviour on an ‘at home sheet’, as well as your own behaviour system (just nope!)
- Heating up student lunches, retrieving student lunches from fridges (Are you willing to do this for all 30 of your students? Just say no)
You may think that I am being hard or difficult, but it really is ok to say no!
You already have hundreds of tasks to complete each day.
That said, you are definitely going to take time to soothe a child and put a band-aid on their knee, call the office to organise a lost lunch and let a parent know that their child’s friendship issues are continuing – and what you can do to help.
HOW TO SAY ‘NO”
You don’t have to be cold-hearted to be a time-effective teacher (and avoid burn-out!), BUT you do have to know how to respectfully say no. You could say:
“That sounds like a great idea, but unfortunately I don’t have time for that this week/term/year. Good luck! I hope it’s a great success.”
“I’m sorry but I have family commitments after school that day”
“I’m afraid I have already committed to gymnastics club and origami club. Along with reporting this term I just don’t have any more free time”
THE KEY THING TO REMEMBER
EVERYTHING you do as a teacher takes time. You are only paid for your actual teaching time – everything else is GOLD. YOUR GOLD. Make sure you’re not giving it up easily.
Ask yourself – Is this addressing one of my BIG ROCKS? If the answer is no, do you have the time and energy to commit to the task?
Finally, are you your worst enemy?
Are you inviting parents to reply to your email (and answering 25 emails) when you could send a survey?
Are you spending time printing and marking materials for a task, when you could easily complete the same task on mini-whiteboards while taking anecdotal notes on just 5 students?
Simplify my friend! You are not paid to plan before and after school. You are not paid to plan on your weekends or on your holidays – that time is yours to reset and recover!
Protect your time carefully – save these 30 time-saving tips for teachers to refer back to when you’re feeling overwhelmed x