Ashley Grinnan, a UT Arlington graduate in the online Literacy Studies Master’s degree program is currently teaching in Texas. She has also been an online teaching assistant and academic coach for Literacy Studies graduate courses at UT Arlington. Her tips below are geared for new teachers but can benefit us all. Thanks, Ashley! Comments are welcome. What are your own time management challenges and success stories? What works best for you?-Dr. Semingson
Ashley Grinnan is in her 9th year teaching 4th grade, 6th year as a UTA TA, and her 5th year as a foster/adoptive mom. She earned her Bachelor of Science from UMHB, and her M.Ed. from UTA. In her spare time, she enjoys sleeping, baking, traveling, scrapbooking, and photography.
Teachers need resources, and one of the most precious resources they have is TIME. It seems like there are not enough hours in the day to plan, prepare, teach, reteach, copy, replan, meet, fill out paperwork, meet, fill out paperwork…did I mention fill out paperwork? In fact a great gift for a teacher would be a stamp with their signature! How do we fit it all in? How do we fit it all in effectively? How do we get some sleep?! Being a new teacher is overwhelming at best. To get beyond just surviving, teachers need strategies to thrive.
Planning: Teachers have so many items on their to-do list. It is essential to have a planner or calendar of some kind. I have a giant desk calendar that I mark duties, special programs, and meetings. I look at it every day. You could also keep a digital calendar, that you color code for home and school activities.
To Do Lists: Whatever you need to get done, write it down! Over the years, I have even built “base” to do lists. I have one for the beginning of school, end of school, field trips, etc. Don’t put these on random sticky notes, but rather have a dedicated notebook or digital checklist. Take care of things as they come up, so you don’t get buried by papers at your desk
Grading/Paperwork: Take advantage of any bit of time you have. While monitoring the room, carry around a clipboard with papers you are grading or forms to fill out. Even if you only get a few graded, it is something you don’t have to do later. If at all possible, use computer programs that grade for you, like eInstruction.
Files: If you do a lesson and love it, save it! Make files on your computer (or in a file cabinet) on different topics. Purge periodically.
Conference Time: Your conference time is precious. It may be your only chance to use the restroom after all! Many people get sucked into conversations and internet surfing, and before you know it, your time is gone. You may have to close your door to keep out unwanted interruptions. Prioritize and get things done quickly. Grade, copy, email, fill out paperwork. This is not the time to browse the internet looking for new lessons, nor is it the time to complain about the students. If you are planning with your team, stay on topic. Speak up if the conversation turns to gossip or whining.
Lessons: Plan ahead, copy ahead. I try to stay at least 2 weeks ahead. At first, you may be doing well to stay one day ahead, but as the bumps smooth out, you’ll have more time to get ahead. Also be sure to have sub plans ready to go. You may want to use folders or trays to organize subjects and days, so you can grab and go!
Routine: Establish a routine for yourself, just like you do your students. Stick with it, and you will be more productive.
“Beg, Borrow, and Steal”: Do not reinvent the wheel. Find what others use and do and copy what will work for you.
After school: Go home! Get what you can get done, then leave work at work. You will be a better teacher and person if you take care of yourself. Plus, you can always use Pinterest at home!