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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 3, November/December 2004

Teachers' tips
Time management: Who has time for it?

by Rob Taylor

Much of teachers’ time is actually managed for us: timetables, bell schedules, meetings, and conferences. In addition, we plan our routines carefully with daybooks and previews. However, many teachers increasingly feel that there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. Perhaps some of the following ideas will help you manage your time and stay sane, all at the same time.

• Start with a master schedule for a week, a month, or a year, depending on how optimistic you feel.

• Block out time commitments that are not going to change, such as report card time, interview days, meetings, and professional days. Then block out other work-related tasks and, if you wish, personal commitments: fitness, hobbies, etc.

• Try to plan for at least an hour block of time before or after school to ensure that you can actually accomplish something, not just get started.

• Be aware of your up times and your down times. For example, some teachers prefer to get up early to do their marking because they are too tired in the evenings.

• If you feel that 10 hours of marking a week is sufficient, don’t feel obligated to do more.

• If you find you are spending more time planning and preparing a task than your students take to complete it, you might consider giving more of the preparation to your students. For example, don’t cut out all the shapes you need for a craft project. Have the students be responsible for that.

• Determine where your valuable time is wasted. If it is impossible to photocopy at 8:30 a.m. because there is a line up, photocopy after school.

• Remember Murphy’s Law, and stay flexible. Anything that can go wrong will, and it will take longer than you planned, so make sure you leave some breathing room.

• After you’ve made the schedule, review it. Is it realistic? Can you really mark 39 English 10 essays while running on the treadmill and cooking supper? If you can, stick to it. If you can’t, change it.

• If everything works, and you find you have some extra time, then reward yourself by doing something you wouldn’t normally have time for—a cup of coffee, a visit with a friend, 10 minutes of stillness. You deserve it.

Rob Taylor teaches at Nesika Elementary School, Williams Lake.