I love a good list – I put silly things on the list just so I can cross them off. For example, instead of putting “laundry” on the list, I’ll put “Do 3 loads of laundry” and then a separate bullet will be “Fold laundry”. I get to cross off TWO things that way!
While I might be a little neurotic about my lists, I do know that when I’m out and about working with educators, the one thing that they always talk about and don’t have enough of is TIME. So, I’m intrigued with this idea of working more efficiently – – and how we can actually create time by doing so. I’ve had the pleasure of working with teachers who have their system DOWN PAT. The kids have the system down pat. And they don’t run around during their break like a chicken with their heads cut off and have a mental breakdown when the copy machine breaks down. Why? Because they are in control.
In control-ness means efficiency. Or is efficiency in control-ness?
If you’re like so many time-strapped educators, I encourage you to stop the “I don’t have enough time” talk and figure out WHERE you can CREATE TIME! Here are 5 spots to get started:
Step 1: Take 1 minute at the top of each day to get organized
Have a list on the board of everything that the kids need to have out on their desks in one minute. One teacher I know draws a diagram of what she wants the desks to look like (composition book on the upper left corner, colored pencils on the bottom right, homework in the middle, science book under the homework) and then scans desks before she even starts teaching to make sure they have everything. The one minute you spend getting organized means you save yourself the frustration and time in the long run!
Step 2: Use a timer
Figure out exactly where you’re losing time – is it transitions? Is it morning/beginning of period routine? Is it handing out papers? Is it during partner work? Then, challenge the students to beat their time. Say to your students: “Folks, we’re losing 5 minutes an hour during transitions because we’re taking our precious time and talking with our friends too much. Let’s see if we can make this transition under 30 seconds. Go!”. Anything’s better if it’s a challenge!
Step 3: Pre-establish partners at the end of the day
There is always lost time and DRAMA around partners! I don’t enter into that and I certainly don’t give the kids the opportunity to choose their partners because they’re going to switch them all of the time anyway. So, at the end of the day I say, “Tomorrow guys and gals, we are going to switch partners. I’m going to take 1 minute right now to tell you who your partner is so that you’re ready to roll tomorrow morning. If you choose to be crabby about your partner, then you will stay with me during your recess/passing period because we don’t have time for that foolishness and we’re better than that!” Then in the morning or next period, they are already SET!
Step 4: Have an exit strategy!
We do ourselves a disservice when we start the top of the day with the “this is everything I have to get through” mentality. No doubt there is a TON of “stuff” that we have to teach, but we have to prioritize the content so that we aren’t just getting through it while students watch. Watching does not equal learning!
Here’s what I suggest: Go through your content for the next day and highlight in green what MUST be taught. Highlight in yellow what SHOULD be taught and highlight in pink what can be dropped off if needed. While we’ll be focused on teaching everything, we have to have an exit strategy if needed!
Step 5: Avoid giving directions until you have all eyes on you
The BEST classroom management skill that I can give anyone is “don’t give directions until you have all eyes on you!”. Why? Then you don’t have to go around and keep repeating yourself a zillion times to those students who didn’t listen in the beginning! Try it! It works like a CHARM!
Becoming more efficient is about taking CONTROL. And I find that the most in-control educators are most satisfied…they don’t feel “done to” – they feel powerful! And I hope the same for you!
If you’re interested in finding time-saving techniques and free tools – click on the “Free Resources” tab at www.jackson-consulting.com – – I’m waiting for you there!