Managing Your Time in the Classroom
I’d always prided myself on my organizational skills and thought I was a good time manager. Then, I became a teacher. I balanced coordinating a program, preparing for and teaching up to four different classes, and, oh yeah—my rapidly dwindling personal life. A majority of the week, my lunchbox was more like my “lunchdinnerbox” because I packed it prepared to spend 12 hours at school. I found myself frustrated, lacking in sleep, and, not surprisingly, short with my students.
When the tears started as I headed to school one morning, I knew that things had to change. I could not sustain this pace. So, I implemented the following organizational tips to better support my students and myself.
Tip 1: Teambuilding
I assumed that my students knew each other and that getting to know each other was not necessary. They could always get to know each other better, but what I hadn’t factored in was that they didn’t know me. I added in teambuilding activities each week, even if they were only a few minutes long, and this shifted the tone of the class and helped provide my students with the building blocks to function as part of a team. Teambuilding also brought back fun to my classroom.
Sometimes I asked the kids to solve a current event problem, work in teams grouped by the same color t-shirt on a quickwrite activity related to the day’s topic, or create a wordle or draw a picture of yesterday’s lesson. The camaraderie created set the tone for our class.
Tip 2: Maximize the First 5 Minutes
Many of my students were stressed from being teenagers, from events outside of school, or from their other classes, and they found school to be a means of relieving some of that stress. Allowing students a few minutes to chat with each other while I finished passing out papers, answered a few questions, and took attendance kept me from saying “be quiet!” ad nauseam for the entire period. After I finished those tasks, I gave the announcements and presented the day’s activities. Those few minutes brought more time to our learning and class activities.
Tip 3: Delegate
I was drowning in work and desperately needed someone to help me. Truth be told, I’m not that good at asking for help. I eventually developed a new attitude when faced with a task. Instead of proving I could do everything by myself, I asked myself, “Who else can do this?” Our class elected officers, so I leaned on them for help and offered volunteer hours for classroom help. I also asked some of the office aides to run errands or help me prepare for a future lesson.
Considering ways to look at my time and resources differently decreased stress and freed me up to be more present for my students. As a result, the students gave more in class and created an atmosphere centered on learning.