The bell rings at the end of the day and a little wave of relief comes over you. The day is over and you can pack up to head home. Then you realize all the things that still need to be done in your classroom before you can leave for the day – papers need to be graded, desks need to be straightened, boards and charts need reset. You could leave it all for tomorrow, but that will just set you up for a rushed and chaotic morning. I know the feeling – but I’ve overcome the cycle of always having things on my to-do list by following these 6 time-saving tips for teachers!
Whether you’re a veteran teacher or in your very first year in the classroom, these tips are great reminders and helpful systems to put into place. They’ll help you save time, energy, and sanity. Conquer your to-do list much easier and spend more time enjoying teaching your students and creating an engaging classroom.
Touch Papers Only Once
This can be a tough one to implement, especially if you grade every assignment or paper in your classroom. Think of the time and energy you would save if you made a promise to yourself to touch every paper in your classroom only once. What does that look like for you?
That might mean once papers are passed back to you, you either grade them right then, simply check them off and hand back, or file them away (perhaps in the cylinder filing cabinet!) Unless it’s your school’s policy, every paper doesn’t have to be graded. Sometimes just the effort given by the students is enough to warrant something complete. Decide what is important to you, your students, and your school’s policies.
This could also mean that once those papers leave your hands, students are responsible for them. Either they grade them together as a group, take them home, or file them themselves. Creating a system for paper handling from the first day of school will help students learn good habits and save you a little bit of time and energy at the end of the day.
You probably already do something like this in your classroom. You may have classroom jobs or a weekly helper. Don’t be afraid to delegate jobs and tasks in the classroom to your students. This helps create a sense of community within your room.
Students will better learn routines in the classroom when they’re actively involved. Assign tasks by a student, by seating area, or by drawing names. Model the tasks and jobs you want students to complete first to ensure they are comfortable and understand the assignment.
Don’t be afraid to pass moderately difficult tasks to your students with discretion. Maybe you have always been the only one to empty the sharpener or put away math resources. Be confident in your class and give them the opportunity to step up, learn new things, and take on jobs that will leave them feeling accomplished.
Close Your Door When Working
This can be a tough one, especially if you like to socialize with your fellow teachers. Closing the door to your room while working can be a huge help in accomplishing more though. Don’t view the closed door as being anti-social or trying to keep others out. Simply make it known that you will have your door closed while working to hold yourself accountable.
Use the Last 5 Minutes Wisely
Your students are packed up and ready for the last bell of the day. Students are antsy and anxious by this point in the day. You could spend that 5 minutes trying to keep them quiet and in their seats. Or you could take advantage of this last burst of energy and fill those 5 minutes with helpful classroom tasks.
I take these last 5 minutes of the day to do an up, ahead, and down survey. They’re encouraged to walk around the room to complete this task. Students look up and see if there’s anything they can put back, close, or clean up. This could be lockers open, the board needs erasing, or windows needing shut.
Then students look ahead and see what they can help with. Encourage them to look on all surfaces in the room. Put things back in their places, wipe down areas, and prep the room for the next day.
Last we look down at the floor. Pick up any trash or lost items, and move desks and chairs back to their original spots (how in the world do they move so far in one day?!)
One of the most important tips I’m sharing is the creation of systems. Systems are so important for a busy classroom. Not only should you have systems in place in your classroom, but you should also have systems in place for yourself.
Have a process in place for writing lesson plans, creating assignments, and grading papers. This might simply be a certain place that you work when you do these things so you have all your tools nearby. Maybe this means each day of the week you work on different tasks. Find a system that works best for you and your class.
Stay in Your Lane
This may not seem like a time-saving tip, but I think you’ll find it does end up saving you so much time! Staying in your lane simply means not comparing yourself to others. Don’t try to redo your plans to match what others are doing. You may be wasting a lot of time trying to duplicate what another teacher does. You’ll find you have much more time (and enjoyment) when you stay in your lane and be yourself!
I hope you find these tips helpful and they add some time back into your schedule! Implementing these tips at the beginning of the year and sticking to them will make for a much smoother end of the year too! What are some of your best time-saving tips for teachers?