As we often share, there is never enough time in the day. If we could pack two more hours or more of time into our schedule, that would be a relief, but unfortunately, our minds and bodies are exhausted enough already after our jam-packed 8-hour days. Luckily, these classroom hacks will cut down on tasks to help you make the most out of your day and feel like you are getting some much-needed extra time.
1. Alphabetize Everything
Alphabetizing your classroom procedures and routines will shave off minutes each time you line students up and grade papers. By having an organized system, the routine will become automatized, and there will be less time wasted waiting around. Always collect papers in alphabetical order; that way, when you go to grade and file them, you can go systematically down the line to efficiently complete the task. Students will quickly learn their line order and remember that they must line up alphabetically each time.
2. Digitize Records and Resources
Keeping digital records and grades helps to speed up the processes of grading and planning. Instead of having to shuffle through your favorite go-to planning tools or running back to your classroom to grab materials, they will be readily available at your fingertips when they are stored digitally on your computer or other devices.
When grading papers, you can save on time by grading in real-time; this helps save time later when you have to refresh yourself on the assignment expectations. Carry around a device and input grades as you give students timely feedback, and the expectations are still fresh in your mind. This will help save time while planning interventions and reteaching as well, as you can jot down notes about points of confusion or misconceptions as you track students’ progress.
3. Set Timers and Structure Your Weekly Calendar
Creating a routine in which you focus on planning, grading, and conferences on specific days helps prioritize tasks and fit them into your schedule in an organized way. At times, it’s challenging to fit everything into your day and choosing which should take priority.
For example, when a recommendation letter request is dropped on your desk during your planning time, you may feel obliged to complete it right then and there and neglect your previous task of planning your interventions for the following week. Having a structured weekly calendar that accounts for miscellaneous tasks can make both tasks a priority. You’ll be able to take care of planning interventions now but not have to stress about forgetting the recommendation letter either. You know you’ll take care of it on Friday morning.
You’ll be able to direct others who make requests for your time with efficiency. Instead of having to get back to them about what fits within your calendar, you’ll be able to say, “my conference days are every Wednesday morning or Thursday afternoon,” etc.
Set a timer to complete a task within that given time and move on to your next task when the timer goes off. For example, set aside 30 minutes of your planning time for next week’s reading lessons and 20 minutes on science. Stick to the allotted times, so you don’t become overwhelmed in feeling like you are not getting anything done. Knowing your timer is ticking will help you subconsciously ignore distractions like your phone and wave off chit-chat with neighbors during that crunch time.