I'm not complaining, but it just seems that teaching consumes my life 24/7. I've been in the profession 12 years and have truly enjoyed it. But, I find it hard to keep up with everything there is to do and remember. I think I'm just getting old too. I also had my first baby in that time frame. Well...she's 6 now. Being a mom and teacher is tough, trying to balance work and personal life. When I first started, I was young and full of energy. Now, I'm slowing down...have less energy, and have to write everything down that needs to be done. I also did not teach the past two school years to be home with my own child. Once you stay out a year or two, you really notice.
What I need is help getting myself into a routine. How to budget my time better, doing lesson plans, grade papers, call parents..keep room clean...etc. Any ideas?
I really try to use my plan time better. I found a few years ago that I always had to take things home when the teacher (a veteran of 23 years) never did, so I asked her. She explained very nicely that during her plan time that's what she did. She graded papers, she wrote lesson plans, and did her teacher stuff. Then she said what do you do on your plan? I said the same thing usually. She again said very nicely then what are doing in my room talking to me? I realized then that I talked a lot to other teachers on my plan time. Now I use my 30 minutes to do just what she does. I don't go down to the office until I have a stack of stuff and I shut my door and do my thing. It seems so small but it's really helped. I can get so much done if I just work for the straight 30 minutes. I use lunch time and meeting time to bounce ideas off of colleagues and just chat. I also talk to you all on Proteacher instead.
Parent calls are another issue though. I found out that if I use my cell phone to call parents, I can take a portion of the bill as a tax deduction. I now call parents on the way home from school so that I'm not wasting time at school or using my home time consumed with school.
I'm at a new school with an earlier dismissal so that helps enormously. In the past when the school day ended I was exhausted and needed conversation with an adult. On many days I spent an hour at a time talking to my neighbor. What a waste of time. I noticed today how much I got done because I wasn't looking for adult company--I don't know anyone. Sometimes we are our own worse enemy.
I agree with Judy24. I used to feel really overwhelmed by all the things I had to do until I learned to use my planning time better. I have 6-30min blocks a week and that's lots of time to get many things done. One thing I try to do is plan as much as I can a week in advance (I do it on Thursday afternoons). I get together all the things I need to photocopy, and a parent volunteer does it for me on Friday so it's ready for the next week. Maybe you have a volunteer who could do this for you? It only takes mine about 20 min once a week. This means that I can use my planning period marking, writing lesson plans, etc.
As for keeping the room clean - what grade do you teach? I expect my students to keep the room tidy. No one is dismissed from their desk at the end of the day until their area is tidy. I also have classroom assistants who are responsible for things like cleaning the boards, organizing papers (I give each student a number that they put on all their work - then the helper just orders them numerically - saves me a lot of time and I can quickly see who didn't hand work in). Even young kids can be expected to tidy around their desk and their cubby. Don't feel like you have to do everything.
One more tip - you don't have to grade everything students do. I bought a stamp that says "read but not corrected" and sometimes I just look at things to see if they were completed, get an idea of how well it was understood (try and look at a couple of low, medium and high level student's papers), and then I just stamp it. Parents know that I saw it but I didn't spend a whole planning period marking.
Sorry this was so long, but I really do think learning to use your planning time is key.
I also waste A LOT of time talking. I know it's a problem for me, but after being in a room with 10-year-olds all day, some of the other teachers and I are starved for adult conversations. So, here I am working on my computer at home. I did better today, but I have a long way to go.
Other things that help me:
- Assign jobs to the students
- I work upstairs, so I don't go downstairs to the workroom unless I have several errands to run. Otherwise I'm up and down stairs and all over the building all day.
- Try to do things while students are working independently.
- If you have parent volunteers, use them to make copies and do other small jobs.
- Stay organized so you don't have to hunt things down later.
My biggest time saver is having the kids grade their papers. I make sure they have nothing on their desks except the paper we are grading and a red pen. Then we grade and I tell them what grade to put on top and they number their papers so they are easy to put in order and in the grade book. I know this might not work with some grades and some subjects, like writing. But for me it has saved me an enormous amount of time. Also, now that my best friend in the building has a different planning time than I do I find that I get a lot more done