So you are a new teacher or newish one and are heading into this new school year without a time management plan. You lack to experience to protect your times. You are nervous about your upcoming school year. Don’t worry, I have you covered with lots of tips to get your year started off right and to carry you all the way to June.
Every teacher, even Veteran teachers feel this way before the school year starts. What will this class be like? Will they like me? Will I have behavior issues? What kinds of issues? What if admin asks me to do something I don’t know how to do?
I originally had planned to do this all on one post, then I realized that there was so much to share that I needed to separate it out so that you do not feel overwhelmed.
I have set this up as an easy resource to refer back to. Go ahead and bookmark this page for future reference. You will be overwhelmed at first so it is nice to have a place to come back to.
As a Teacher, I Need to Protect my time
Your work is never done
As a teacher this is something you need to realize, but this also means that you need to set clear boundaries for yourself, your students, the parents, and your admin.
What Type of Boundaries: Decide what time you will arrive at school and what time you will leave. As best to your abilities stick to that.
If you don’t stick to boundaries, then Teacher Burnout happens.
It is a real thing! It happens when you give more time than your contract says.
So if your contract is 7:45-4:00, don’t come in at 7 and leave at 6. Instead, show up at 7:30 and leave by 4:15. That’s 2.5 hours past contract time.
Business Hours: Set business hours for phone and email. Let your parents and admin know that you will answer calls, texts and emails from 7:45-4:00, whatever your contracted time is. Stick to this. The minute you answer a parent email on a Friday night, you open yourself up to being available at all times. However, if it is a true emergency, then I will return emails.
DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR PHONE NUMBER: This is a boundary I stick by. Parents will text you all the time.
Don’t compare: Don’t compare yourself to the teacher who is on year 10 next door or even the one who is as experienced as you. It isn’t heathy. Stay in your own lane. Definitely get ideas from them, but don’t feel like you need to do what they are doing.
3. Classroom Decorating
Stay off Pinterest and Facebook.
It is so time consuming to decorate a classroom and prepare it for the next year’s class. When you see the ideas on there of these perfect classrooms, it puts on a lot of pressure. It makes you feel bad. Guess What! Your students will learn the same in a Pinterest Worthy classroom as they will in a less decorated room.
Don’t grade everything: Grading takes so much time!
It is an easy thing to drop. I tell parents at the beginning that I won’t be grading everything. Some stuff gets a check mark or a star, others get a score and the rest is thrown away. I remind parents that a lot of this is practice and practice doesn’t need a grade. If your students are old enough, you can have them grade as well!
Grading Time: I grade only once, maybe twice a week. I set aside 15-20 minutes and grade what I can.
5. Mental Health Days
Take a few days off for Mental Health: You will need a day off every now and then to get things done, relax, do appointments and even plan. Yes, I would sometimes plan on my mental health days. I would limit it to about 45 min, but it helped the rest of that week to go better.
6. Lunch Break
Take a lunch break: So this is not going to work for every teacher. I did work at a school where the students ate in my classroom, and I was on duty 2 days a week which ended up being 4 days because the other teachers wouldn’t show up! This was exhausting and led to burn out, we need a break just like other folks with 8-5 jobs.
But now I am at a school where I get a lunch break. I used to work through the break, now I take it. I heat my lunch and often times I will leave the building. I actually started walking on my breaks, just to get outside and refresh my brain. It was very effective. My afternoon went much better. So I challenge you to do that for yourself and your students.
7. IEPs and SSTs
I have to admit when I went back to teaching after having time off, I was clueless to what these were and had to Google it. I think they teach on it now in the credential program, but if they don’t I will give you a super brief overview.
An SST is a Student Service Team: They are usually the teacher, special ed department and an admin. When you have a student who you are concerned with and know they need extra support, you meet with this team to come up with a plan. You make goals and decide how to get those goals done. This usually requires extra work on the teachers part and you need to make sure that you keep good notes. If the child continues to not show growth after few rounds of goals they might be a good candidate for an IEP.
IEP: Individualized Education Plan: Either a parent requests this or a teacher. I was always told at my school never to mention this to a parent. A school does not want more IEPs. They are a huge undertaking. It is best to go through an SST process first. Once a parent requests an IEP, the school must take action. It takes a lot of man power. However, for those who need an IEP these are much needed. You will have a part in the paperwork, meetings and again working on the goals for the child.
8. Over Planning
Don’t over plan: I learned this the hard way. I am a planner and like to be over prepared. But what I found was I was over planning, which takes time and then we wouldn’t get to it all and then I would be frustrated that I had planned this lesson and we never got to it. A lot can be moved to the next day, but some can’t.
Here is how I plan: It takes some time to get to know your students and what they are able to do in a time period. Beginning of the year, not much!
Example Planning: ELA: I look at my curriculum. I look at the recommmend activities. Recommended is the key word. They give you way more than you can use or do. I scan it and plan what we can do during our block of time. That is big, plan what your class is able to do. I copy the worksheets or make an activity to go with it and have it all set. When that day comes, if we don’t get to it all, I move it to the next day.
9. Planning Ahead
When I first started teaching, I planned one day ahead. Just being honest and telling it like it was. That was not sustainable. Then I moved to a few days ahead. Then I got really good and did 2 weeks ahead!
Here is why I do not recommend 2 weeks ahead. This has to do with the previous, don’t over plan. I would plan too far out and we wouldn’t do half of what I had planned and it was a waste of time. So now I plan a week before. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I plan for the following week. On Thursday I make copies and on Friday, I put everything in their files for the next week.
My filing system looks like this: I have a folder for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Then a folder that says: Next Week Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Once I am done with my copies, I put a sticky note on the papers as to which day they go in. I file all the papers in the folders so when that day comes, I just grab that folder and everything is ready to go. If we don’t get to it, then I grab the stack and and it goes into the next day folder. When I am planning on Tuesday, sometimes I will have activities that I have made or copied and so they will go in the next week’s folder til ready.
This comes in handy for sub days, when you need to leave early, etc.
I also have a folder with “extra” activities. If an activity flops, we do it really fast or something doesn’t work, then I have something to easily grab.
10. Report Cards
The vain of my existence. I DO NOT LIKE REPORT CARDS. They are very time consuming, admin always adds new rules, expectations and they take so much extra time that I don’t have. I recommend you starting on your report card process about 3 weeks ahead of time. During this time, other things are set aside as I don’t have time for them. (Example: grading, planning big projects)
I usually will work a few extra hours during the week that they are due. Find out early on how your school handles report cards, how do they do grading, how are comments handled, when are they due, what system do they use to add the data, are you supposed to add data to a main system. There is a lot to ask before. Be proactive.
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