Effective Time Management

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Genmai, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. Genmai

    Genmai Companion

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2009
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 7, 2010

    Most school days, I stay at school in my classroom organizing papers, reviewing administrative stuff, tutoring and sometimes grading. I do practically no planning or grading. I get home after 7pm. Lately, I've been crashing and rushing in the morning to get my lesson for the day in order which makes for a poorly organized day. I feel incredibly disorganized. I'm starting to think that I should get out of the school as soon as possible because I'm clearly not very productive at school. At home, I can get a quick start to the next day's work. How do you work? Any suggestions?
     
  2.  
  3. ecl

    ecl Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 7, 2010

    I am not productive at school either. There are too many distractions there for me. So at the end of the day, I spend about 10 minutes straightening the top of my desk, and then leave. I relax at home, make dinner and eat, then tackle the planning. I grade during my prep time when possible. I get in almost an hour before the students, and I'm very productive then.
     
  4. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,862
    Likes Received:
    1,362

    Jan 7, 2010

    Are you organized throughout the day? If not, then you're probably spending too much time at the end of the day trying to just get things back in order. As I use things, I put them back where they belong. If I take up papers, I immediately put them into my "to grade" folder, which is always in the same location. I have one folder for each class period. I don't have to spend ANY time at the end of the day putting things away or organizing things. It's already done.

    I do most all of my planning at home. The only things I do at school are pull things from my file or make copies. I'm never making plans for the day that very day. I'm always a week or two ahead of time. That leave me time to add any last-minute things without being rushed.

    Sometimes I grade at school, but most of the time I grade at home sitting on the couch with the TV on. I don't have kids and DH is gone a lot. I'd just as soon bring work home as not.

    My room is always ready to go for the next day before I leave school. I use my planning time to do daily housekeeping kinds of things, take care of administrative things, or return emails/phone calls.

    I get to work around 7:20 every morning, and I generally stay until 4:00. (class is 7:50-3:00, and teachers can leave at 3:20)
    Most evenings I don't do anything at home, but when I do it's usually not more than an hour or so. I spend about two hours, sometimes three, on Sunday evenings getting ready for the week.

    I'm sure it helps that I'm just naturally organized. I always have been. I've also been teaching for awhile, so I've got a pattern.

    Oh, and one more thing . . . make sure that you're spending your time doing things that really matter. Sometimes you get so many things on your to do list that you can't get them all done. I'm a list maker, and I have things organized on the list by what has to be done immediately and what can wait. We've had a week of snow days, so I'm happy to say that I've knocked out everything on my "it can wait" list.
     
  5. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 8, 2010

    ImaTeacher -- your suggestions were really helpful. I begin student teaching in a week, what kind of organization tips do you have for that kind of experience?
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,583
    Likes Received:
    2,687

    Jan 8, 2010

    I think you are spending too much time at school. Spending hours and hours after school means to me that you're doing something wrong.

    Make a list of what needs to get done. Include everything that you need to do, such as making copies, grading a quiz, entering grades, emailing the principal about something, whatever. When you're done with your list, prioritize it. What items MUST be done immediately? Do those first. What can wait? What can be delegated to someone else, like a coworker or student? As you complete items on your list, cross them off. Make a new list every day if you have to.

    Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Rather than make an entirely new form or rubric, search for one online. They are all over the place, usually for free. The same thing goes for lesson plan templates and lesson plans themselves. You'll probably have to tweak what you find, but it's still a lot less work than doing it all from scratch.

    Spend a day or two completely overhauling and organizing your classroom. Buy several small, medium, and large-sized clear totes with lids. Use them to organize and store stuff. Keep like items together. For example, put all your bulletin board stuff together in one place. Label your totes and bookshelves with what belongs there (and your name if it's your personal stuff). Keep items that you use more frequently in a place that's easily accessible; the stuff that you use less often can go in the back of cabinets or drawers.

    I have a bad habit of putting down whatever is in my hand wherever I happen to be standing at the time. At the end of the day, I have pens, dry erase markers, and stacks of paper all over the place. I find that if I take five minutes or so at the end of the day to do a round-up, things are so much better. :)

    I think you should limit your time before and after school to no more than 30 minutes beyond your contract time. You need personal time to do things that are fun and not about school.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,583
    Likes Received:
    2,687

    Jan 8, 2010

    Keep a pen with you all the time, especially when you go to the mailroom. I don't know about you, but I always get stuff in my mailbox that just requires a signature or initial or something. That stuff doesn't really need to make its way back to my classroom....If it does, it's pretty likely that I'll lose it or forget about it or something. Instead, just deal with the paperwork right there at your mailbox, then hand it off to whoever needs it.
     
  8. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 8, 2010

    Well you didn't ask me, but here's what I suggest to student teachers:

    1. Always keep the big picture in mind.
    2. Look down the road a year, a semester, a quarter, a week.
    3. Have specific objectives and lesson plan according to those.
    4. Assign homework sparingly---if it's important enough to learn, then it needs in-class attention of a professional. That's you.
    5. Have kids grade tests (never essays or other substantive writing assignments. They are to grade IN PEN. It saves time, but more importantly it gives you an opportunity to reinforce/reteach. Make sure that each kid signs the paper he grades.
    6. Maximize every single minute you have in the classroom with those kids. I read on one of these boards about a math teacher who allowed his students "only" one minute a day to doodle on their white boards. My first thought was, "That's 180 minutes. That's three class days." If class time is spent wisely, there's less homework and less grading of homework.
    7. Arrive on campus an hour before students arrive; stay 45 minutes after they're gone.
    8. Spot check assignments.
    9. If you assign journal writing (which you should, but only if done correctly and with a focus), don't read every single word; look for ONE thing that the kids have to get perfect. Give full credit or no credit based on that one thing.
    10. Spend time in proportion to importance. In other words, skim journal entries; mark essays from TOP TO BOTTOM, line to line.

    http://myenglishdepartment.com/index.php?option=com_kunena&Itemid=1&func=view&catid=26&id=91

    I'll try to think of more...
     
  9. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 8, 2010

    I should add...

    1. During student teaching, you're likely to have time management issues no matter the extent to which you're organized or efficient. This is a time to learn, and you learn by doing.

    2. Lots of people are willing to help you.

    3. Don't be discouraged if you start to get overwhelmed.
     
  10. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,862
    Likes Received:
    1,362

    Jan 8, 2010

    I'm in the middle of painting my bathroom, so I'll have to come back with more ideas later, but I wanted to comment on a couple of Mr. A's suggestions.

    Before allowing students to grade the work of other students, check to make sure it's permitted. We are NOT allowed to let students grade other work. It's considered a confidentiality no-no. I do, however, allow students to grade their OWN work frequently. More on that later.

    The spot checking idea is a good one. I've used some materials multiple times, and I know that certain types of questions are ones that give students problems. While I glance at the whole paper, I'll really only look closely at the ones that I know cause issues. That way I'll know if I need to reteach or if they got it.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,583
    Likes Received:
    2,687

    Jan 8, 2010

    I strongly believe that students need to be allowed to transition and settle into class and new activities. Doodling for one minute every day would be fine to me because it would allow students to get a little bit of energy out. Students are still kids and I think it's not reasonable for us to expect them to be "on" 100% of the time. My class periods are 85 minutes, and if my students spent 85 minutes on Latin-Latin-Latin, their brains would probably explode. Do I allow them to chit-chat during transitions? Yes. Do I allow a little bit of off-task chit-chat during parter or group work? Yes. Socialization is a big part of school, and students need it.
     
  12. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 8, 2010

    Good point!

    Let me amend this...

    Have students grade each other's "quizzes" and handouts (people for some reason frown upon "worksheets" so I call them handouts).
     
  13. tgim

    tgim Habitué

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Messages:
    845
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 8, 2010

    We check homework together for the first time a skill is assigned (in math or English), it is a learning opportunity. Often we take 5 minutes at the beginning of math class to check homework - but I take it up and look through it so I know who might need extra attention. I also have them correct it as we go along sometimes. I do not have to have my hands on every single piece of paper we do. They mark it with a big "T" and a check mark so parents know we went over it together.

    (I am not the person to advise on how to get more done in less time - I am usually there until 5:00!)
     
  14. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,061
    Likes Received:
    538

    Jan 8, 2010

    I am at school from 7:45 - 5:30 every day. I'm new. I have the big picture in my head, but I only plan 1 day in advance. It's all I can do to keep up. I have a bin that travels back and forth from school to home everyday. Anything that can be done in front of the T.V. goes from my hands to that bin. I spend my time at school making copies, getting materials in order, laminating, consulting with colleagues, etc. I'm trying to write more detailed books in my planning book so that next year I'll have a clue about what I could be doing.
     
  15. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    3,888
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 9, 2010

    Everything gets easier year after year. I have long-term plans and then write lesson plans for a week at a time. See if you can solicit a parent to help you with your copying, let students grade their daily papers, assign your students a number and have them write their name and number on their papers. After collecting them have a student put them in order for you, that'll help you when you start to record grades and file their papers. After teaching a lesson and everyone understands the concept go back to your desk and declutter, record grades, or work on lesson plans. I don't waste a single minute while I'd at school. I get there at 7:30 and leave at 3:30 which are the requried times to be on campus. I do take papers home to grade about two times a week, I'll record them while I'm at home too.
     
  16. Miss.H

    Miss.H Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2006
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 9, 2010

    1. Label all shelves etc so that everything has a a place in the classroom. Teach the students to keep the room tidy and return everything to its rightful place. I f you have really young students take a photo of what belongs in the box/ or on the shelf so they too can keep the room tidy. Then you don't need to worry about tidying the room yourself at the end of the day.

    2. Always have a weekly plan done in advance. You could have students then prepare any materials you need for the next day a few minutes before you leave in the afternoon. Then that is one less thing to worry about when you get to school in the mornings.

    3. Use a timer with young children. Tell them when it is 5 mins to pack up time..so they will be ready to clean/pack up. I find this is the time arguments start, so giving them warning helps them to be organised as well.

    4. Always have a daily schedule up on the board for the children (even if it is just pictures of what they are doing for the day). This helps all students know what to expect for the day and to know what books/materials they will need to have ready on their desks. Give rewards to the children who can follow the schedule and be organised the quickest. Eventually the kids will get so good at this and it saves heaps of time in between activities.

    5. If you have to mark childrens' books. Go around as they complete the work and date and sign it, rather than collecting books and having to find the time later to mark everything.

    6. I never leave for the day until everything is cleared off my desk. I feel so much more organised the next day when I walk in and sit at a clean desk.

    I know most of these are fairly obvious, but if you be consistent with them, you will save a lot of preparation time,will have a tidy classroom and desk and your students will be more organised as well.
     
  17. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,862
    Likes Received:
    1,362

    Jan 9, 2010

    Do you know any teachers who really seem to have it together? I've had the principal send teachers to my room just to look around and see how I have things organized in my room. Anytime I go to someone else's classroom, I always look around and see what kind of ideas I can "steal" for my own use.
     
  18. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 9, 2010

    Of course. We need to be mindful, though, of how many minutes per day are spent "socializing."

    Assuming an hour per period, one minute per day is three class days gone.

    Five minutes per day is fifteen days.

    In an 85-minute class, figuring it out requires algebra that I don't feel like doing right now!

     
  19. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,583
    Likes Received:
    2,687

    Jan 9, 2010

    Socialization is also important for English language learners. ELLs learn everyday English before learning academic English, and they do so in large part due to having conversations and interacting with their peers. My district is 60% ELL or former ELL, so I try to always be mindful of their needs. Perhaps your district and classroom are different and students already know all the English they need. Mine don't.
     
  20. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 9, 2010

    Your situation is different. I didn't realize you were teaching ESL!

    Wow.

    I hope they're speaking English in there. If so, by all means you are right.

    I'm referring to classes with native English speakers.
     
  21. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    229

    Jan 10, 2010

    I too do my planning a week ahead (also on Sundays). Our school requires this, since plans are due Monday at the latest. This is a great way to have everything planned out, so you shouldn't have to be doing planning everyday. I grade during my preps, and try to have as little to do at home as possible because I hate bringing work home (but sometimes we have to). It will help to have a place for everything, and make sure you and putting things where they belong throughout the day, that way you are done when the school day ends. If you spend hours upon hours in the classroom after school, I think you are going to burn yourself out really quickly.
     
  22. cateste

    cateste Companion

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2008
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 10, 2010

    I take one night during the week that is usually less busy than the others and keep that night open for weekly planning. Planning for the whole week really helps. I know I will need to change things over the course of the week, but at least I see the goals that I want to achieve. I hate giving up my weekends for planning and school work so a midweek evening works better for me. As for grading, go ahead and let some of your trustworthy kids from past years do some of the non-important grades. If privacy is an issue, give your kids numbers to put on their work instead of names. That gives you time to focus on the important grades you want to really dig into.
     
  23. Windy City

    Windy City Companion

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2007
    Messages:
    131
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 10, 2010

    I completely agree. I have found that if I let the students "play" with the materials for a short amount of time, I have their entire attention for the rest of the lesson because they have already gotten the desire to play out of their system.

    I teach elementary, and there is no way you can place a box of math manipulative blocks in front of a group of students and think they won't want to play with them. I know that when I look at a box of blocks, my first inclination is to use them to build a building!

    So rather than have them sit and stare at those blocks with the thought of "I wanna play with those. I wanna play with those. I wanna play with those." running through their heads for 45 minutes, I let them play for 3 and then they know it's time to work. I definitely do the same with allowing them to doodle on the individual whiteboards. It's a novelty for them, so I let them explore and then we get to work.
     
  24. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 10, 2010

    TRUE for elementary school! I wouldn't expect anything less than at least a little bit of fun.

    High school---they have LOTS of time for fun. Take a look outside between classes. Besides, they probably have five other teachers who want them to have fun in class. If you choose not to be one of those teachers, then you're only doing your students a favor whether they know it (or like it) or not.

    This is not to say that class should be boring or depressing. I'm just saying that solid coursework that is engaging and focused is not necessarily disliked by kids. In fact most of them appreciate being treated like they have a job to do (again, whether they tell you so or not).

    At their high-school reunions, do we want them to reminisce about how "cool" we were or how much they learned, how much they respected us?
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,583
    Likes Received:
    2,687

    Jan 10, 2010


    But it's not true that allowing for a little bit of energy-dumping means that they aren't doing "solid coursework that is engaging and focused."

    You can bet that my students work HARD in my class; I'd even go so far as to say that they work harder in my one class than they do in three or four of their other classes combined.

    I have high expectations and make a lot of demands on them...which, in my opinion, is all the more reason that I can allow for some (literal) wiggle room. 30-second dance party? Fine. One minute of "whooshing" (kind of like a cheer, I guess)? Fine. Three minutes of the number game? Fine. Not only do these sorts of activities serve as an outlet for excess energy, they also work as team-building activities. My students need to feel safe and secure in my classroom, and that's easier when they get to know each other better.

    You go ahead and do what you like. Please don't imply, however, that teachers like me are sub par or that our students aren't learning. It's simply not true.
     
  26. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    2,974
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 10, 2010

    I agree with Cassie, fight your battles wisely. My kids work hard in my class, however I chose particulary what I want them to focus on. For example, If they don't want to take notes, I don't fret about it nor do I care if they do the optional movie questions I give for movies. However, when it comes to homework assignments and classwork assignments such as primary source analysis, simulations, projects etc. I DEMAND the absolute best from my students and usually I get it.
     
  27. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 10, 2010

    Didn't mean to imply that at all. I can come off that way, but I don't mean to!

    I understand the need for the "whoosh" minute!

    Maybe what I'm saying is, teachers need to watch where the working minutes go, how many minutes (days, when you extend it out over a school year) are spent on what sorts of activities.
     
  28. Genmai

    Genmai Companion

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2009
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 10, 2010

    Thanks for the good suggestions. How else can I use my time - outside of class - more effectively? I'm spending way too much time burning gas and not getting a lot of mileage. With testing coming up, I need to use my energies most effectively.
     
  29. Mr. A

    Mr. A Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 10, 2010

    I have always found that work affects the other aspects of our lives and vice versa.

    In other words---and it took me a LONG time to figure this out---maximize the minutes in your personal life and you'll find more time for the grading.

    Maybe do it like I do the gym: Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and Friday without fail for an hour each time.

    So...say, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday at exactly the same time for 75 quiet minutes?
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

Total: 325 (members: 1, guests: 305, robots: 19)
test