Time is something we all wish we had more of. While it’s technically impossible to create time, we can alter the way we use our time — which ultimately makes our schedules less hectic and our lives a little easier.
Effective time management in the classroom starts with cutting down planning time. Spending less time planning allows teachers to focus more on student learning and engagement. Instead of over-planning and trying to figure out how to control your classroom, take that energy and put it towards building relationships, making adjustments, and creating an exceptional classroom environment.
Follow these 5 simple hacks to cut your planning time in half.
1. Arrive early.
Starting your day with a quiet, empty classroom after a good night’s rest will help you concentrate and think clearly. A fresh slate will help you accomplish more in the morning, rather than after school when your energy is depleted and thoughts of the day are still running through your mind.
2. Plan first thing in the morning.
When you arrive to your classroom bright and early, avoid checking your email, visiting with colleagues, or inviting any other distractions. Dedicate the first block of your time to planning for the day. If you’re easily distracted, shut your door and turn off your cell phone.
3. Take it one task at a time.
Try not to start multiple tasks at a time and tell yourself you are multitasking. When you start too many projects at the same time, it’s easy to feel busy but end up not finishing anything.
Take it one task at a time — this is easier said than done for scatter-brained teachers who are full of ideas! Make a list of your top three priorities, and do your best to accomplish all of them in the morning. Cross them off one at a time, making sure not to go onto the next task without finishing the previous one first.
4. Set deadlines.
Giving yourself less time to get something done seems counterproductive — but in reality, setting deadlines (and sticking to them) can help you get more accomplished.
If you normally give yourself an hour to plan a lesson or activity, try reducing it to 45 or even 35 minutes. As long as you are focusing, limiting your time can have an effect of speeding up your thinking.
5. Be a classroom management expert.
Stop overthinking how your students will react to a new activity. Instead, prepare for all kinds of lessons and implement them whenever you see fit.
Remember what has worked for your students in the past. Move students around the room, break them into groups, and play learning games whenever you feel like they need it — without fear that it won’t go over well. Overthinking cuts into your planning time, and nothing saves more time like good classroom management.