It’s true that teachers don’t have a lot of free time during their day, and we understand that. We also understand that much of your time may revolve around a set timetable. Whilst you may not have much control over that schedule, there are methods you might use to free up some more time.
Within the classroom, there are also a number of strategies that can be put into place to optimize teaching time. We’ve listed a few below for you that are designed to improve time for instruction and on lesson activities, and maximize your teaching day.
1. Optimize instructional time
One way you can save time is to talk with your class about how you can all help each other to optimize instructional time during the school day. Class necessities, such as taking the register or giving out homework can all take time away from learning, so look at ways that these essentials can be completed without eating into valuable lesson time. Speak with your class about how you can do this so that it is a shared priority. If you all work together, you can all benefit from this effective time management.
2. Establish clear classroom rules and expectations
To some extent, many people benefit from a set timetable so they know what’s going on and when. By setting a routine, establishing clear expectations and teaching to them, you can set regular activities, and firm guidelines for behaviour during unstructured time like project or group work. It’s important to remember that these expectations will need to be made clear and documented in a class charter or in a set of agreed rules, and your students are reminded of them daily.
Alongside this, a great tip for optimizing classroom time is to make sure your students are aware that being at school and starting class on time is an important part of the day. By making this a focus, students are set expectations for being punctual and being prompt. Some teachers might use morning work or seatwork in their daily routines, so that students know being in class is for learning, and this then helps with transitioning into instructional time.
3. Choose a time management model that works for YOU
Whether you feel a flipped classroom is the way forward or you enjoy using a rotation or carousel model, you can find a model that works for you and your students. Try a few different methods and select one that fits your teaching style, as well as your organization style. By doing this, you will hopefully make your time more manageable, as every student will know how lessons are set out, and you can reach every learner in an optimal way.
4. Consider the time you’re spending on marking and assessment
Marking and assessing can be long and tedious and some teachers can become stressed at not providing students with meaningful, in-depth comments for every piece of work; but, is it really necessary to have in-depth comments for every piece of work? Look at your school marking policy and ask what needs thorough marking and possible assessment, and what needs just marking for completion. Although there is no rule of thumb or right answer, if your marking pile continues to build up regularly, consider your time and evaluate what you are marking, how you are marking and the true needs of your students.
5. Don’t work harder, work smarter
It could be considered a cliché but it’s often used in education and is worth reiterating. Find the resources that align to learning objectives and students’ needs right at the start, and then return to those tools many times throughout the school year. By finding solutions you enjoy and can use confidently, you can save time in your day and use that time for valuable activities such as working with struggling students, pushing the learning of those who are working at a greater depth or taking time for communicating success.
These solutions may be demanding at first, and teachers have busy schedules, but by making these slight changes and establishing them within your classroom, you’ll reap rewards.
If you have any classroom time-management tips to share, tweet them to us @Edmentum_INT and tell other instructors about your ideas.