Using Planning Time Effectively
Effective time management strategies for your planning time.
By Elisa Jackson
For teachers, using time wisely is crucial. Things are always changing, students always have issues, and parents always want to speak with us. Our planning time is often spent on the phone with a parent, listening to another teacher, or dealing with students who had an argument on the playground. Then, we are stuck planning lessons after school when we should be going home. And then there are those after-school meetings that take up time as well. When do we get to plan? I have put together some strategies that can help you plan more effectively in the little time you do have.
The first strategy is to delegate. All the miscellaneous organizing, cutting, bulletin-board hanging, and simple grading (like math facts sheets) can be done by another person. You can enlist the help of an aide, if you have one, a college student training to be a teacher or a parent volunteer. At the beginning of the year, you should have parents sign up for various jobs, many of which can be done at home. Don’t forget jobs like ordering and distributing book orders. Everyone loves to help out, and many of these tasks are not hard, they just take time. Make sure the people you choose to do critical jobs are reliable, and can follow the instructions you give properly. You don’t want to put an even bigger burden on yourself by having to fix what they have done.
The next strategy is to get to school before students get there and plan. I know it is hard to come in early, but it is well worth it. One reason this works is that you are usually alone, so you can have a lot of quiet, uninterrupted time to yourself. No one will come to you with problems, or hang out in your room just to talk, so you will be able to actually sit down and focus without interruptions. If other faculty members are there at the same time, they are there for the same purpose. You’ll find that devoting thirty minutes in the morning to planning, can save you time later. You can get the same amount of work done in thirty minutes before school as you can in fifty minutes after school.
Another tip - when you sit down with your plan book, try to be organized. Many weeks operate in much the same fashion, so you can make a template on the computer of your weekly schedule, and print out enough copies for the whole year. If something changes, you can just pencil it in. Try to have everything done for the upcoming week by Thursday of the week before. All plans, copies, and grades should be in. This is where coming in before school is very helpful. I created a schedule for myself and it worked quite well. Here is how it looked:
Monday: Fill out plan for the next week and pencil in activities. Highlight assignments that have already been done.
Tuesday: Plan reading, bell work, and centers. Start getting copies together.
Wednesday: Plan math, social studies, and science lessons. Get more copies and supplies together.
Thursday: Plan anything that was missed and finalize all copies, supplies, activities, and miscellaneous other things.
Friday: No planning… it’s Friday!!!
Time Management Strategies:
Students learn new strategies for effective time management.
Students create schedules to follow.
Students do research to look for ways to make their study time shorter and more effective.
Students list their biggest time management problems and solutions that might help.