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3 Time Management Tips for Teachers

In today’s ever-moving, fast-paced, digitally-overloaded world, it can sometimes be tricky to get things done. And between the important tasks of work and taking care of things at home, becoming overwhelmed is not a foreign concept to most people. This is especially true for teachers, who are not only responsible for their own selves, but for the educational advancement  and well-being of their students – at least on a school day. In fact, one could daresay that truly dedicated teachers are some of the busiest people in the world, juggling the needs of their students, the demands of the district, the requirements of the state, and the pressure of making sure that all of their students succeed in the classroom. We get it – being a teacher can be tough, and with school already starting for some, we wanted to share three best practices for managing your time effectively:
1.     Set challenging, but realistic goals. Whether this means figuring out what you want to do in a day-to-day routine, or planning out an overreaching goal for the school year, it is important to set goals that you and your students can aspire to accomplish. But don’t make them unattainable! Recognize that you can’t do everything, and that your students can’t either; they’re not all going to be able to achieve the same things. Therefore, you should set challenging, but realistic goals for the entire class that you can tackle one step at a time. This is a great way to get your students more engaged in the learning process, and they will thrive on the excitement of hitting those goals – and who knows? You might find yourself growing excited as well.
“Just like it is important for teachers to model thinking and questioning when teaching new skills,” says Sheila Curlin, Assistant Director of English here at NMSI. “It is also valuable for students to see that teachers set goals for themselves and for their students—that we articulate what we want to accomplish when we begin a task. It is easier to understand if we've been successful when we can look at a concrete goal and say ‘Yes, we did that.’”
2.     Organize, prioritize, and simplify your work. This is probably the trickiest step to take, as so many things are competing for your time, making it very easy to become stressed and burned out. So, instead of letting yourself become overwhelmed, break your work-list down into manageable parts, and prioritize what needs to be done first – and first, you need to organize your classroom. Spending too much time running around fetching supplies and showing your students where things are is just exhausting. Reorganize your workspace to where students can help themselves. An organized workspace will alleviate unneeded stress for everyone in the classroom. After that, then you need to start prioritizing your work, because let’s face it; not everything is going to get your undivided attention, and nor should you throw yourself completely into every single task. It’s just as important to focus on yourself and make sure you’re not wasting your energy. For example, if you find yourself getting bogged down with endless grading, just do what the NMSI Science Team does – let the kids get up and engage in activities that let them leave their pencils behind. A simple observation is all it will take to see if the students are grasping the concepts, meaning less work for you and more fun for them.
 Photo via Liz Marie
3.     Pace yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Managing your time is difficult. If it weren't, you wouldn't be reading this guide right now, and your hair wouldn't be quite so frazzled. But it is possible to find the time to accomplish your goals and organize your work. It’s tempting to rush through things to reach the finish line, but that will only produce half-baked results for both you and your students. So pace yourself. Stop, and take the time to evaluate what it is that you’re doing and what your students really need from you to be successful. And if you find yourself at your wit’s ultimate end, just ask for help. Every other teacher in existence has been where you are, or is in the same boat. So instead of shouldering it all by yourself, reach out and ask for help –you can always reach out to your NMSI mentor or your teacher buddy from across the hall! As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and you are teaching dozens.
These three steps may not be the end-all, cure-all for time management problems, but we believe they are a great start in the right direction. And the fact that you’re still reading this shows your own dedication to solving you pervasive ailment of time-loss, and we at NMSI are here to help. We have forums that you can use to talk with teachers across the nation for moral support, educational advice or just to learn what other challenges teachers are facing are and how they solve them. So don’t get discouraged by your sudden lack of time – set realistic goals, prioritize tasks, and ask for help!
Quick links to the Math, Science, and English Forums:
NMSI’s Math Forum
NMSI’s Science Forum
NMSI’s English Forum
Google Author: Timothy Huneycutt