How might we do less, better as teachers? Today on the show I share my top strategies for saving time and cultivating harmony when everything feels chaotic.
Hi everyone. It is just us today with a solo episode. Since I started this podcast, I’ve kept a running list of ideas for solo episodes, but between you and me, I gravitate more towards interviewing experts in education because I would so much rather just ask the questions and highlight other people’s brilliance than take a position of authority myself (there’s nothing to unpack there, is there? Ha!). But to make my life a little easier with doing the PhD, I’m switching up the podcast schedule a bit and interviewing an amazing person once a month and bringing in a solo episode once a month. An awesome piece of feedback I got from the listener survey is that an episode every 2 weeks is way better for you, so I love that. My life these days has been about doing less, better–you know that saying, when you are tired, learn to rest, not quit? Banksy said this! That should be our motto right now as educators.
So in this vein, I’m (finally) doing the episode I’ve been thinking of for–oh about 3 years–my favourite teacher time saving hacks.
You have heard many of these before. I certainly didn’t invent them. Some of these I learned from veteran teachers. Some I learned through Angela Watson’s 40 hour Teacher Workweek. Some I just learned by being tired and having kids and getting to the end of my rope. But I hope that one of these hacks you might be able to try on or experiment with. Please please please, learn to rest (or go slower) rather than quit. If you are listening to a podcast about education, YOU ARE AN AMAZING EDUCATOR who cares about the practice and their students. We need to learn to do less, better rather than give up on teaching altogether.
Also, lists make me happy and an organized list makes my heart smile. So the first 5 are things that you can do now. The next 5 take some strategy. We’ll get into that in a little bit.
My top ten teacher time saving hacks:
- Automate tasks: stock responses, email replies, Calendly, report card observations, Plan to Eat
- Daily To-Do List: Organize your to do list into days of the week. Ideal if you can map it out on a weekly basis on Sundays. Easier to feel like at the end of the day you’re actually DONE. Consider what free time you actually have. This I learned from Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Work Week.
- Take your email off your phone: Only check email at one time during the day. Get into flow.
- Borrow / Steal / Redo lessons: Stop inventing your lessons from scratch. Other people have done this before and it’s probably better than what you could create on your own. I had a lot of shame in this earlier on. Now, I think it’s the best. Students want a caring, humane, connected educator.
- Prep meals on the weekend: Easier and quicker to do 2-3 big batches of things than make dinner every night. Prep lunches for your kids and freeze sandwiches. Dinner should not take a long time. Use Plantoeat!
- Leave your computer at work: Start with one day a week. We need time to recharge.
- Send a good note home email: saves you time with parent communication. Gives you that joy back. Gives you energy.
- Stop Marking / reading everything: design tasks that don’t require tons of time to mark. Give formative feedback in class. Mark beside students when they are right there. Automate feedback (Google tests / Kahoots / EdPuzzle).
- Reevaluate the time it takes to write report cards: bank of report card comments, err on the side of the student, consider how long these are actually read, use the student success criteria to make it really clear what they can do and what they can’t do
- Flip your classes: record a lesson, if you have 3 classes you don’t have to say the same thing to 3 different sets of students. They watch it in or out of the class. Time in class with students becomes the time you give them for formative feedback, students practicing skills, marking student work.
What’s your favourite time saving strategies for addressing exhaustion and overwhelm? Pop them into the chat or share them on the socials Twitter @teach_tomorrow and Instagram @teaching_tomorrow!