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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 3, Nov./Dec. 2006

Teachers' tips
Time management? Who has time for that?

by Rob Taylor

It seems strange to be writing an article on time management for teachers because so much of our time is actually managed for us, through such things as timetables, bell schedules, meetings, and conferences. We also plan our time carefully with daybooks and previews.

Nevertheless, here are some quick ways to manage your time and stay sane.

• Set attainable goals. You are not going to manage a triathlon training schedule, learn raku firing techniques, practice piano for an hour a day, and still have time for your job and your family, so be realistic.

• Start with a master schedule for a week, a month, or a year depending on how optimistic you feel.

• Block out time commitments that are not going to change, such as report-card time, interview days, meetings, and professional days.

• On a dayplan, block out personal commitments in order of priority, e.g., gym or fitness time, time to read, and commute time. Do the same with work related tasks, preparation, marking, reporting, phone calls, and so on.

• On your school-based timetable, plan time for prep, marking, meetings, and personal relaxation. Try to plan for at least one-hour blocks before or after school to ensure you can actually accomplish something, not just get started.

• Be cognizant of the up and down times, don’t bother scheduling test marking at 2:00 p.m. after a staff luncheon—trust me, you won’t do it, better to plan for a brisk walk around the school. Use the up and down times to your advantage.

• Keep in mind that work tends to expand to fill your time—don’t let it.

• An important question to ask yourself with regard to teaching is whether you are spending more time planning and preparing a task than it takes your students to actually complete it. If that’s the case, is there real value in your planning and preparation or could the students benefit from working through the planning and preparation themselves?

• Determine where you think time is wasted. Is it impossible to photocopy at 8:30 a.m. because there’s a line-up? Plan not to do it then or plan other things that you can do while you wait in that line-up.

• Remember Murphy’s Law and stay flexible. Anything that can go wrong will, and it will take longer than you planned, so make sure you leave some spaces to breathe.

• After you’ve made the schedule, review it. Is it realistic? Can you really mark 39 English 10 essays while running on the treadmill and cooking supper? If you can—stick to it! If you can’t—change it.

• If it all works, and you find you have a spare moment, then reward yourself by doing something you wouldn’t normally have time for—a cup of coffee, a visit with a friend, 10 minutes of stillness.

All you need to do now is find time to read this article!

Rob Taylor teaches at Nesika Elementary School, Williams Lake.

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