There is a major change that happens at this time of the year. The switch from the carefree summer schedule (where I’m not even sure of the day) to the minute-by-minute scheduling that is part of teaching. Our shiny new teacher calendars and planners are opened for the first time and quickly filled with to-do lists, reminders, and meetings.
It’s always a jolt to return to a such a rigid schedule, and there is never enough time to get everything done. I manage to squeak out just a little more time in the day by using time-saving strategies. Here are the top five time-savers that I use every day.
1. Use a timer.
I consider a timer to be a time-saver because it helps me use time effectively. I use a timer regularly during math, reading, and writing workshop. Before I used a timer my mini lessons would run long and I would lose time needed for meeting with small groups. I would then have to make up that time the next day, sometimes putting me behind for the rest of the week. Now I use a small digital timer to limit my mini lesson time. When the timer goes off I wrap up my thoughts and move into working with small groups or individual students.
2. Simplify your conference records.
When conferring with students during writing or reading workshop, I try to spend more time listening and less time writing. When I first started conferring with students I took meticulous notes as individual students read aloud or shared writing pieces with me. Unfortunately I wasn’t the best at giving feedback because I was too busy recording data. Now I give students my full attention, which results in a more productive conference. As soon as they get up to leave, I quickly jot down the highlights of the session. I find that I'm able to meet with more students during the time given and have more useful information which I can use to plan the next conference.
3. Organize your everyday items.
This is the one I struggle with the most, especially at home. I am constantly looking for my sunglasses, phone, keys, etc. At school I am a bit more disciplined. Near my desk I have wall hooks for those items I need every day, like my classroom keys, badge, and recess whistle. The few times I have forgotten to place these items in their "home" have resulted in frustration and wasted time.
4. Create a PowerPoint slide for morning work or directions.
One time-saver I am consistent with is the use of single slides for morning work and directions. I use PowerPoint to create a single slide like the one shown below and display it on the large projector screen. I make it engaging for students by using a school or seasonal theme. Students are trained from the beginning of the year to check the screen as they enter the classroom. Mornings are now more focused as students complete their tasks independently. I am free to greet students, check homework, and submit attendance. I save this slide on my computer desktop and use it every day, changing the information as needed.
5. Use newsletter templates. I mentioned in tip #4 that I create a single PowerPoint slide for morning work and quickly change it every day as needed. I also use templates for weekly newsletters, which communicate curriculum and other important news to parents. Once the template is created I can quickly change the information each week. The newsletter shown below is part of my Superhero Newsletter Templates.
Hopefully these time-savers will be useful to you. I’d love to hear your time-saving tips. Please post your tips in the comments!
If you are interested in viewing the Superhero PowerPoint and Newsletter Templates as shown in the pictures, just click the images above. I also have many free newsletter templates for you to try! Click here to check out the free newsletter templates in my TpT store.