Members of the Teachers.Net community have compiled ideas for "survival kits," "goodie bags," and other forms of welcome back gifts and activities for faculty and students. Use the links below to access the compilations in the Teachers.Net Lessons Bank http://teachers.net/lessons. And feel free to submit your good ideas and best lessons for others to use!
Browse or search the Lessons Bank for lessons and activities throughout the school year!
Tips On Time Management
by Jan, from the Chatboard
Time Management Tips
- Set a time when you will absolutely leave school at the end of the day---4:30? 5:00 whatever. Stick to it!
- The minute the kids leave, do the things you absolutely have to do for the next day---planning, paper work. Then with the time remaining until the "witching hour" do those extra things that you want to do. You should have about an hour for this. At the designated time, however, you leave. (The reason we say this is because teachers often do the extra stuff right after school. Then it is late and they are not ready for tomorrow so have to take that home. By the end of October, they are burned out. We have them do "first things first."
- You have to recognize the fact that you will never catch up. That is teaching. While hard, you have to accept it. The more you do, the more you will find to do. You have to have time away from school and you have to make that a priority. The kids will not suffer if that project is a week late in preparation or if the bulletin board is not changed regularly.
- Make bulletin boards "generic" (non-seasonal) so you don't have to change them often. Let the kids do it. Even first graders can select what they want to hang up. Do an art project. As they finish it you staple it up. At the end of the month, they go up and take it down and take it home. Keep the captions the same---"Art Center" etc. STUDENT work, not teacher work should be up.
- During certain times of the year (Open House, Conferences, getting things started, etc.) the work load is heavier. In that case, you may need to spend ONE DAY of the weekend working. But, only one day and ONLY once in awhile.
- Get a student helper from the upper grades. They love to file, pick up the room, help you get organized. They are very capable.
- Teach the kids how to clean up the centers and the room. Have definite expectations. Teach the procedures. Expect them to be perfect. They will be.
- Learn strategies for assessment. You do not have to correct every single paper. Monitor as the kids are working and keep a check list; spot check; record one or two grades per subject per week. That is enough to support report grades. Emphasis should be on monitoring and adjusting DURING class, not evaluating AFTER class.
- Pick ONE new thing a year to focus on for your own growth. You cannot revise math, reading and science all in one year. Next year, work on reading. Resist the temptation to add a new area. Keep focused. Then, the next year take on a new thing. Fragmentation and overload are the major problems teachers face. Take control of that. Don't let it happen to you.
- Set aside a time for socializing with other teachers. Maybe in the morning; maybe at lunch. But, after school, don't! Close your door, put a sign on it that says "Do not disturb", tell colleagues what your plan is. Many teachers spend precious hours just chatting then work has to be taken home.
- Collaboration is important (essential) though, so do not isolate yourself. Lunch should be in the teachers' room because that is the time and place where lots of things are discussed. You need to be present and involved. We recommend that this be the "social hour" and that after school be dedicated to work. Besides, you need the break at noon.
- KEEP TO YOUR SCHEDULE of leaving at a certain time and not taking stuff home. You will not be a good teacher if you don't have a life of your own. Set priorities, learn to say "NO!", and reflect on what you are doing well, not on what you think you should do.
Those are the critical "twelve". We do tell our teachers that if you are finding that you are spending every evening and weekend on schoolwork, it is TOO much. Keep a log for a week. Write down what you do and the number of minutes you are doing it. For new teachers, we have them show it to us and we assist them in identifying where unnecessary time is being spent and how to reorganize. For a veteran teacher, analyze it yourself and see what the patterns are. Design a plan for change. Or, go over it with a colleague and get his/her input. Working together to help each other get a handle on the time issue could be time well spent!
Also, remember when you add a new activity, you have to let one go! This is essential. I do a lot of work with whole staffs in the area of school improvement. As we take on a new strategy to learn or a new innovation to implement, we spend time deciding which one to LET GO. This is hard for teachers because we want to do it all. We can't. Learning what is no longer as effective as it once was; what may no longer be valuable or essential; or deciding which of two initiatives will be most helpful to students is an important step. We have to be able to weed out the less effective just as much as we have to add the more effective. Bruce Joyce who does much work in school improvement/change says "Effective change initiatives require us to let go of our most cherished norms." It's true. If your principal asks you to take on an adjunct duty (yet, ANOTHER one!) then evaluate it carefully. If your plate is already full and you like the things you are doing, say so. If you want to do the new thing and/or the principal is insisting you do it, say "I'd be happy to. Here are the things I'm already doing. (list them) Which one would you like me to give up?" You can control your time. Take charge! And, good luck!