8 weeks. 40 school days. That’s all that stands between me and the completion of my NQT year. I’m excited and relieved to see the summer holidays waving at me from the finish line with the promise of sunshine, lie-ins and no desperate home raids for green and orange highlighters to satisfy the marking policy. However, the main question floating around my head is: “Where has the time gone!?”
I’m tempted to pop my head into the washing machine to see if it got lost along with the majority of my socks. I cannot fathom how the time has slipped away. It’s as if my year has been bottled up in an hour glass but some foolish mortal – most likely myself – forgot to close the clasp on the bottom and so the time has been spilling out all over the place.
It’s not just shocking to think how quickly time has flown since the beginning of the academic year, though. Each day tends to sprint past me, leaving my barely-touched to-do list floating away in its momentum. Reflecting on my own personal efficiencies and inefficiencies regarding time management, I decided to share my dos and don’ts in order to utilise teacher time effectively.
- Mark in lessons
It’s not the least bit lazy to do so. If anything, it’s far more valuable than marking after the lesson has taken place. Read a previous blog post about this for a full explanation as to the benefits:
- Catch up with colleagues
I don’t enjoy seeing advice online suggesting that conversing with colleagues is a waste of time! It’s a great opportunity to build relationships with people who you spend the majority of your time with. It’s an invaluable way of building morale and motivating each other. It’s a fantastic chance to gain insight into new approaches.
Whilst I don’t advocate spending time with people who incessantly moan, sometimes it is good to get things off your chest – although it’s important to direct your worries/concerns/grievances towards a relevant person if you really want some recognition and any chance of change. Go find yourself a marigold or bunch of marigolds.
- Take a break
This does not have to be just sitting and having a chat in the staff room during break and lunchtimes, although there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Go out for a walk around the community. Read a few pages of your favourite book. Go play on the field. (I had one of the best lunchtimes ever running around with some KS1 children in order to escape the asteroids that were supposedly falling from the sky.) Just do something other than jobs. You’ll be far more effective on the whole if you take some time to recharge.
There are far too many responsibilities to be completed within one school day and I’m fairly sure it is impossible to finish everything that is expected of you. Make a list or create an important/urgent matrix. It’s also important to chat to colleagues to evaluate your priorities. The number of times I’ve gone to complete a task only to discover that someone else has already done all the legwork or there is a template already lurking on staff share is ridiculous!
- Keep yourself busy with purposeless tasks
I am so guilty of rearranging resources and straightening piles of used sheets whenever I don’t want to bring myself to do a job that requires more effort. If you’re going to procrastinate, at least make your avoidance tactic one that is genuinely beneficial. Check and reply to your emails. Alter a display. Fill out some certificates. Do something that actually has some value or purpose at the end of the task. Once you’ve completed a job with purpose, you’ll feel better about yourself. Then is the time to sit down and crack on with that job you’ve been trying to hide from.
- Tidy your classroom
If my parents are reading this blog, they’ll concur with the fact that I am a fairly (incredibly) messy person to live with. However, when it comes to my classroom, I turn into Kim and Aggie.
Earlier on in the year, I’d always catch myself spending the first twenty minutes of the school day tidying up from the day before. If I see my classroom messy at the end of a lesson or day, it just provides me with such a mental block and so I used to feel compelled to clean up. What’s important to remember is the fact that you are sharing this classroom with more than a handful children. As soon as I’ve tidied up, it’s a mess again. To a degree, I instil a sense of tidiness in my pupils but it’s just as important for them get any resources they’d like out for their independent learning and make a little bit of mess in doing so. I’d also rather spend the last five minutes doing a plenary rather than tidying away our resources.
Fortunately, I always have a few pupils who seem to be allergic to the outside elements and therefore ask if I have any jobs to do. I request that they spend five minutes tidying up the classroom and then they head outside. I’ve won because my mind is at peace for a little while and those children have managed to avoid the dastardly outside world for an extra 300 seconds.
- Attempt to do a job you don’t understand
I’m incredibly fortunate in the fact that if I do not understand a task that has been given to me, I can approach someone without any worries and admit that I need some guidance. Some people many not feel comfortable doing this in themselves, whilst others may not know where to go for support. What’s important to remember is that trying to work your way through an unfamiliar, unaided task feels akin to slogging through a bog: slow, unpleasant and somewhat pointless. It will waste your time and leave you feeling demotivated. If you followed one of the major ‘dos’, of catching up with colleagues, then you should have someone to go to when you’re at a loss and this will cut out a good chunk of time faffing around trying to complete the seemingly impossible task.
Almost Time To Go…
Although I’ve just spewed a load of strategies out onto a blog post, I am still incredibly guilty of being inefficient with my time. How do you ensure that you make the best use of your time? Do you have any other strategies that could benefit others?