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You Are Probably Too Busy to Read This

You Are Probably Too Busy to Read This

Juila G. Thompson | Teaching

For various and inexplicable reasons, teachers everywhere report that they are busier than ever this year. We feel as if we are rushing through our school days, frantically trying to find a balance between school responsibilities, home chores, and the enjoyment of a life that a steady career in education should bring. Many of us arrive at school early dragging in a heavy briefcase crammed with student papers and non-instructional paperwork and leave at the end of the day dragging out a heavy briefcase crammed with fresh student papers and non-instructional paperwork, plus a hefty teacher’s edition or two.

It is very easy to become overwhelmed by the relentless high-priority, school-related tasks that have multiplied more than ever this year. However, before you opt to browse the classified ads for a less demanding (and less rewarding) job, consider this: In a career filled with so many variables, we teachers do have significant control over how we spend our time. We can choose to use our school hours profitably or just spin wheels in constant distress.

If you want a life that is more enjoyable for your family, your students, and yourself, then spending some effort perfecting your time management skills may be a successful strategy for you to consider. In the list below you will find fifty-two tips that can help you gain the control of your professional life. While many of them will be familiar to you, perhaps revisiting them can reignite the sense of enjoyment in the career you choose with such a high sense of idealism.

1. Taking time to make long-range plans will definitely save you time over the course of a school year. You’ll teach with confidence.

2. Use a school planner or calendar to mark off and plan for the important dates you will need to know about during the school year: holidays, grading report periods, after-school obligations, etc.

3. Use a calendar to plan your month. When you have a big picture of when monthly meetings will happen, deadlines are due, or even when after-school events are scheduled, you will be able to manage them more successfully.

4. Find ways to pace your instruction so that occasionally you can use the time that students are working independently to do paperwork at your desk.

5. Schedule your time. Do demanding tasks when you have a high energy level.

6. Program important numbers into your phone: your school, grade level chairman or department head, substitute hotline, helpful colleagues…

7. If you are a procrastinator, think about why you are putting off a chore. Once you have done this, make a plan to accomplish it efficiently.

8. Papers waiting to be graded have a way of looming larger than life and casting a black cloud over even the sunniest day. Determine the most efficient way to deal with ungraded papers to remove their silent reproach and to give your students the positive and timely feedback they need.

9. Stagger deadlines for student projects.

10. Always arrive at school with a few minutes (at least) to spare.

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