“If someone tells you something is easy, they probably don’t know teaching.”
—Christine Hertz and Kristine Mraz
If there is one thing everyone can agree teachers need more of, it's time. Much to our dismay, scientists haven't figured out how to add 10 hours to each day yet. In the meantime, here are just four small steps you can take to make the best use of your teaching time:
- Figure out when you do your best work and develop the habit of getting as much done as you can then.
Some teachers come in early to prep for the day, others stay late, while some like to prep and plan from home or a coffee shop. Find what works for you and stick to it.
- Keep two running lists: "Do Now" and "Do Soon".
Triage what needs to get done immediately and what can wait. A long list of disorganized "to do" items would make anyone overwhelmed. You'll find it easier to know where to start if you break each task down in order of when it needs to get done.
- Set email boundaries and communicate them clearly to parents.The world will keep turning if you don't check your email from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. Stick to your boundaries and make sure you have time to recharge and prep for the next day.
- Establish routines for repetitive tasks—and stick to them. Teaching can be chaotic enough, so build some predictability into your daily or weekly schedules for writing the class newsletter, responding to emails, and similar tasks. Having these set-in-stone routines will keep your momentum going even when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Back-to-school is the perfect time to try new time-management strategies like these. Test them out to see what works, and what doesn't. As you find your groove and adopt strategies that maximize your time, you'll be able to spend more time focusing on what really matters: students.
Christine Hertz is coauthor of the Heinemann titles Kids First from Day One and A Mindset for Learning. She finds great joy and challenge in helping all children grow as independent and engaged students. She is passionate about keeping play and creativity at the center of children's lives and curiosity and wonder at the heart of learning. Christine has taught in a wide variety of classrooms from preschool to fourth grade and as an adjunct instructor of education courses. She currently teaches in Worcester, Vermont. You can follow her on Twitter @christine_hertz or visit her web site at christinehertz.com
Kristine Mraz is coauthor—with Christine Hertz—of the new Kids First from Day One, which provides a practical blueprint for increasing the child-centeredness of your teaching practice. She and Christine previously teamed up for the bestselling A Mindset for Learning (coauthored with Christine Hertz), which provides practical and powerful strategies for cultivating optimism, flexibility, and empathy alongside traditional academic skills. Kristi teaches Kindergarten in the New York City Public schools. In addition to writing and teaching, she consults in schools across the country and as far away as Taiwan. She primarily supports teachers in early literacy, play, and inquiry based learning. You can follow all of her adventures on twitter @MrazKristine or on her blog kinderconfidential.wordpress.com