Teaching is a profoundly rewarding career choice, but also one which places a high demand on teachers’ time at school. It can be challenging to manage the myriad of background planning and preparation tasks required on a day to day basis, let alone the actual job of teaching students. Here are a few ideas to help manage your teaching schedule and make efficient use of your time at school:
Set Boundaries for yourself, and stick to them. There are always going to be times when more hours are required to prep that amazing science lesson or to give really meaningful written feedback on a writing assignment, but make those late nights at school the exception rather than the rule. Many teachers find that setting a regular day of the week (say, Monday morning to prepare for the week) to spend an extra hour or two at school helps them feel prepared and better able to stick to regular hours for the rest of the week.
Avoid bringing work home on a regular basis. While any teacher would likely agree that this unavoidable at times, avoid making a habit of bringing work home. Teaching is by nature a job that is truly never complete; while the workload may ebb and flow, the job of teaching children is ongoing and cannot be finished at the end of a day. Give yourself permission to walk away from that half- graded stack of papers – they will be there tomorrow and so will the students.
Really take your lunch break. It’s all too easy to slip into a daily routine of promising students extra help during your lunch break, using the time to make phone calls home, or finishing up planning the afternoon’s math lesson. Teaching is not a profession which affords practitioners the luxury of taking a break on one’s own time or spending a few minutes zoning out on Facebook. Take the whole lunch break (yes, all 30 glorious minutes) to relax – you’ve earned it, and you’ll need it!
Work with your teaching team. If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated time block for planning or meeting with your professional learning team, really use that time to discuss with your teaching partners how you could split up your collective workload. If you don’t have a regular time scheduled for meeting with your co-teachers, consider establishing one. Copying, lesson planning, organizing and many tasks can often be much more efficiently accomplished by working together – saving you time and stress.
The fast-paced, high energy environment of a modern classroom is without a doubt a primary factor drawing teachers into the classroom in the first place. Establishing proactive routines around your daily schedule will help you keep a balanced approach to your teaching career and keep your focus on high-quality instruction day in and day out. For more information on this topic, contact us.