By Teachers, For Teachers
Working as a teacher requires impeccable time and classroom management skills. Not only do you have to be able to balance the immediate educational needs of students, but you also have to deal with students’ long-term goals, lesson planning, grading, paperwork, parents, professional development, and anything else that may be thrown your way. With all of these responsibilities, teachers often feel overwhelmed with the amount of time they have to fit everything in. Luckily, it’s possible to create extra time both inside of the classroom and out. With a few effective classroom management skills, teachers can increase their productivity. Here are a few teachers’ questions, along with the answers on classroom management and productivity.
Q: I’m a middle school teacher and feel like I have a good organizational system down when it comes to paperwork (grading, etc.). However, I feel like the papers are neverending and just keep piling up. What can I do to keep this from happening?
A: As soon as you see the stack of papers piling up, the first thing that you are probably thinking is, “How will I ever find the time to read all of this?” To keep you from drowning in paperwork, the first thing that you need to do is set aside a specific time of the day to complete each task. For example, as soon as you get to school and before you leave school, check and answer all email. If you notice that the papers that are piling up are permission slips, then designate a place for them to go. If the papers are parent notes, then answer those as soon as you get them. If it’s homework or tests to grade, then carve out a specific time of the day to just grade papers. As long as you prioritize your paperwork and get rid of it as soon as it comes in, you will no longer feel like you are drowning in it.
Q: As an elementary school teacher, I feel like as hard as I try and plan for every part of the day, my students are still having a hard time transitioning from one thing to the next. How can I get my students to transition smoothly so I’m not wasting so much time?
A: Transition periods between lessons, lunch, or specials can have a huge impact on your day. This is usually the time when students get restless and things start to get chaotic. The best thing that you can do to keep your classroom running smoothly and not waste any of your precious class time is to plan well in advance for them.
The first thing that you should do is search for or come with a few different activities to keep in your back pocket. If you know that you usually have between 5-10 minutes before lunchtime, then plan for the students to complete a task or play a quick game instead of just spreading out the time they have to gather their lunches. A popular transition game is called “Are you Talking about Me?” The teacher thinks of a person in the classroom, then delivers vague but specific statements to the class about the person they are thinking about. The goal is for the students to figure out if the teacher is talking about them. For example, the teacher may say, “This person wears glasses.” All of the students in the class who wear glasses would stand up. Then the teacher would give another statement about the person they are thinking of to help weed out the other students. The last person standing is the person who won. The great thing about this transition game is it can be as short or as long as you want.
If you don’t like the idea of a playing a game, then you can have the students write in their journals, start their homework, read, or even organize their desks. Just make sure that you’re using your time wisely instead of allowing students to just roam the classroom.
Q: I usually plan for lessons about one week in advance, but I feel like I’m not using my time wisely. I’d like to plan for a few weeks out. How can I effectively plan well in advance?
A: The first thing you need to do is have a general idea of what you want to do. Think about the standards, lessons, activities, and assessment. Then think about what you want the students to learn by the end of the lesson and work backwards. Once you know what you want them to learn, then you can begin thinking about the lessons and standards that will correlate with it. In order to plan well in advance (about 4-6 weeks), you don’t necessarily need to have every second of your day planned out, because you never know what life will throw at you. What you can do is just have a general idea and build on that as you go. Try and plan for transitions and interruptions by leaving some room in your schedule too. You always want to be prepared for the unexpected.
Do you have any time and classroom management tips for teachers that you find helpful? Please share your ideas in the comment section below we’d love to heart what works for you.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.