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With a publication date of January 1st, I couldn’t resist creating a blog post and video about time management tips for teachers. I’ve written other posts about getting productive at the start of a new year if you’re interested, but today I’m focusing specifically on teacher productivity. If you’re looking for time management ideas for your own teaching life, check out this post!
Time Management and Productivity Tips
Tip 1: Time Chunking (not time blocking)
Time blocking involves blocking specific times of the day or week for completing a certain task. I find that a bit too limiting. So, I time chunk instead. What does that mean? I designate a chunk of time for a specific set of tasks. As long as those tasks are done during that time chunk, I’ve succeeded in my goal. The order I do the tasks doesn’t matter. How many breaks I take during that time and when doesn’t matter. It’s all about completing the tasks during a designated chunk of time.
Here’s another video with more information on time blocking and other time management tips.
Tip 2: Grade Chunking
Similar to time chunking, grade chunking involves grading a specific set of student work at a time. So, rather than saying, “I’m going to grade for the next 2 hours,” you’d instead say, “I have 60 papers to grade. I’m going to grade them in sets of 5, taking a break in between so I don’t get overwhelmed.” The amount of student work you grade in a chunk depends on how long it will take to grade an individual assignment. I’ve done chunks as large as a whole class (for a reading quiz, for example), and chunks as small as 3 (for long papers, for example). So, figure out what chunk sizes work best for you.
Here are more grading tips.
Tip 3: Create a Flexible Daily Routine
Creating a daily routine is key for a healthy, more balanced life. But, finding daily routines that work well for you can take a lot of trial and error. So, I track my ideas and progress. For example, a few routines I might do in one day: morning routine, night routine, work routine. But what morning routine will get me the most energized for the day? What night routine will help me sleep better? Trial and error is key.
I keep a daily routine journal so I can track what I’ve tried during my routines. It helps me get a sense of what activities work well to accomplish my goals for the morning and evening. But, it also helps me with work and self-care, because I’ve designed it to help with these things. It includes four page layouts: morning routine, today’s tasks, night routine, and self-care and gratitude journaling.
If a routine isn’t working for you, change it. Experiment and find the ideal routines for you. [Here’s a video all about creating a summer routine, but it can apply to any time of the year.]
Tip 4: Schedule Your Lesson Planning
If you are teaching a new class, you are likely planning as you go in relation to the small class activities that you’ll assign each class period. So, my tip here is to plan only once a week, rather than multiple times a week. If you teach Tuesday and Thursday, plan both days on Monday (or the Friday before, if you don’t work weekends and don’t want to wait so long to plan). Planning a week at a time rather than a day at a time shouldn’t feel too overwhelming. And if you can accomplish this goal, then that leaves the majority of the week for other important activities in your academic and non-academic life.
Here’s a video with more lesson planning tips.
Tip 5: Use Open Educational Resources (OER)
I have a full video about this tip, as well, in case you don’t know where to find OER or how it works. But basically, OER allows you to use ready-made teaching materials and assignment for free, rather than lesson planning everything from scratch. This really speeds up your lesson planning time, leaving you more time for other work or non-work. Using mentor texts that have already been created is another way to speed up the lesson planning process, so I highly recommend collecting examples of strong student work as you teach. You can use those examples in future classes, rather than constantly creating your own.
Creating your first college course and not sure where to start? I have a free workbook and blog post/video series that can help. It’s called “Successful Start: Designing Your First Week of Class” and the start of the series can be found here. I’ll be livestreaming about this series next Wednesday on my YouTube channel, so definitely subscribe to my channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss out on that content. I’ll be going through the workbook, showing examples of my own course materials, and discussing changes I’ve made due to teaching in hyflex form this past semester. For other teaching tips, feel free to explore this blog and my YouTube channel.
Comment Below: Which tip are you most excited to use this semester?
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