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As a teacher, effective time management is crucial, yet many educators, including myself, never received formal training in this area during our undergraduate years. It wasn’t until later in my career, during my graduate program, that I learned the importance of managing time efficiently. In this podcast, I’ll share strategies that transformed my approach to time management, specifically tailored for secondary career and technical education teachers juggling multiple preps.
Focus on the Minimum Viable Product
One of the biggest challenges is determining priorities amidst a sea of tasks. Learn to identify the minimum viable product—what is essential for student success. Consider methods like categorizing tasks into must-dos, nice-to-dos, and new additions. Keep your priority list short, ideally three to five items, ensuring you can accomplish them within your available time.
Break down tasks into smaller, manageable chunks. For example, instead of a vague task like “plan tomorrow’s lesson,” specify the components: creating copies, writing instructions, and preparing worksheets. This approach makes prioritization clearer and tasks more achievable.
Varying Time-Blocking Techniques
Leverage Your Class Periods
As a secondary teacher, you already work in time blocks due to class periods. Extend this concept to before and after school. Assess your energy levels during different times of the day—whether you’re a morning person or more productive in the afternoon. Align your tasks with your energy peaks for maximum efficiency.
Establishing Work-Life Balance
Recognize the value of setting boundaries on when you work and respond to emails. Avoid constant email checking—designate specific times for this. Communicate these boundaries clearly to parents and administrators. Consider adding an email signature or autoresponder indicating your typical email-checking times. Removing email notifications from your phone grants you control over when you engage with your inbox.
Time Limits for Tasks
Set time limits for tasks to avoid endless work. Decide how long you’ll spend on a particular activity or how late you’ll stay at school. Be intentional about when you extend your work hours and when you prioritize leaving earlier for family time.
In summary, effective time management for multiple prep secondary teachers involves prioritizing tasks, leveraging time blocks strategically, and setting boundaries. By implementing these strategies, you can not only survive but thrive in your role as an educator. Take control of your time, enhance your productivity, and strike a balance between being an effective teacher and prioritizing essential relationships.