Time Management for Teachers (v2)
- Articles, Blog

Time Management for Teachers (v2)


Many teachers have a poor work-life balance. I know, because I’ve had years of experience as a teacher in the classroom. I’m here to teach you how to handle your workload and restore that work-life balance. If you follow my time management methods, long days should be a thing of the past. You’ll be able to go home on time, worry-free, knowing that you’ve done everything you need to do. Let’s begin. One of the biggest challenges you face as a teacher is your uncooperative coworkers, your students. Sometimes they try and do as little work as is possible and it can be tempting to let them get away with it. After all, if some of them don’t do their homework, that’s less homework for you to mark. Small problems like this, such as letting an individual student get away with not doing a homework or a project can quickly grow into big problems, like the entire class not doing their homework. Ultimately, if the students aren’t doing the work you’re assigning them, they’re going to do less well on the tests and they’re learning less. You’ll also have to spend more and more time in your day dealing with classroom management issues like trying to get them to do their work. The students don’t learn just what you teach them directly. They’re also learning about you as a person. If you are the kind of teacher who lets homework slide, they’re going to be less and less likely to do work for you and to respect you. You have to make sure that you’re keeping track of everything that’s going on in your classroom. But this is quite a challenge because often times, teachers have 500 or more students that they need to be looking after. How do you make sure that you’re keeping track of what everybody owes you and what needs to be done? The tool that I recommend that can change your life is just a small, sturdy clipboard. If you go out and you get one for yourself today, I guarantee you, it will change your life as a teacher. There are three kinds of things that you should keep on your clipboard: Their tracking sheets, their daily must-do lists, and there’s a general to-do list. I want to talk about the tracking sheet first. The tracking sheet starts out its life as just a plain piece of blank paper. But as the days go by, if any student misses something for you, a homework or a project, you put their name on this list, make a note of what the thing is they’re missing, and the date that this happened on. You should go through this list at least once a week and cross off anybody who’s gotten work back to you. Or send messages to those who haven’t. If a student continues not to give something to you, you need to look into your own school’s sanctions policies. As long as you never cross off anybody’s name before they’ve given you what they owe you, you’ll always be making sure that you get every piece of work from every student. When collecting in the homework from students, you should go around to the students’ desk individually, collect each piece of homework and then write down the names of those who don’t have it. If you do this regularly, the students will quickly learn that you’re the kind of teacher who doesn’t let things slide. And they’ll put you on the top of their own to-do lists. The second thing to talk about are the daily must-do lists. On your computer, you should make a Word document that has a blank page for each workday. On those pages, you’re going to put down the things that must happen by the end of that day, in order to be fully prepared for the next day. So as an example, every Monday, you need to list all of the classes that you need to plan for on Tuesday. If there’s anything else that needs to be done before Tuesday, also put that on that list. The thing that really makes this work is that it is a must-do list. This is not a daily to-do list. You’re not putting down things that you would like to get done by the end of the day, but that are ultimately optional. You need to put down things that have to get done. I like to think of this as my “I must do this before I can go home list”. If you limit your list to only the things that absolutely have to get done, it’s much more motivating to knock those things off, so you know you can go home at the end of the day and not have to be worrying all night about what you need to do first thing in the morning to be ready for the day. The last thing to keep on the clipboard is a general to-do list. This is a list for everything that doesn’t fit on your must-do list. Anything that is less time sensitive goes on here. Any general project that you need to do at some point, but not by a specific day will all be kept track of on here. After you’ve crossed off your must-do list, then you would turn over to your general to-do list and start working through those items, if you have time. The next thing I want to talk about is paperwork. Teachers deal with a lot of paper and you have to have a system for keeping it all together. This is what I recommend. You should have one folder for each class that you teach. Within that folder, you’re going to keep all of the papers that you currently need to teach that class. So, any worksheets that you’re going to give out, any tests you’re going to give out, homework that you’ve gotten back and need to mark, all of those kinds of things go into this folder. Any reference materials that you wouldn’t need on a particular day to teach that class, such as workbooks that you use to photocopy the worksheets from, those you can keep in a separate filing cabinet. Here’s an example of the kind of thing to keep inside one of the folders. This is a collection of papers that’s for a Year 10 test. There’s three parts to this little packet, so let’s take a look at them. First, there’s the papers themselves. Secondly, there’s a title sheet that clearly describes what they are. In this example, Year 10 Tests. And lastly, there’s a cover slip which keeps all of these things together. If you leave a lot of blank space on your cover sheet, you can add additional information later on, such as when you’ve given the test to the students and received them back, you can add To Mark on the front of that sheet, so that you know you need to take care of this. And once you’ve marked them, you can then cross that out. Again, to quickly review, keep one folder for each of your classes, and keep all of the things that you need to teach that class in that folder. Once you set up this system, you know that you just need that single folder to be adequately prepared for the class. This is also convenient, in case there’s a room change. You can just grab that folder and go. If you’re able to organize your files in the ways that I’ve just recommended, and you’re able to consistently work with your daily must-do list, the advantage is that when you walk into school on any day, you know that you’re completely ready for whatever’s going to happen. You don’t have to spend any of your day frantically planning for that afternoon lesson, and if anything comes up unexpectedly, you don’t have to worry about it, because you’re all set for every one of your lessons for that day. Once you start getting used to this ready position, you’ll find that you have more time in the day than you actually originally thought. One of the places that time has been hiding from you is in these little five minute intervals between lessons. After the last class leaves and before the next class comes in, you can use this time in a productive way if you’re prepared adequately. I recommend that you keep a list of things that you can do in these little five minute times. For example, you can do some quick filing or, if you have an easy to mark quiz, you can mark a couple of those pages in that quiz. After a full day of teaching, you can sometimes find that you’ve marked a complete class set of quizzes without ever feeling like you had to sit down and mark the whole thing at once. I want you to realize as a teacher that your job is a lot less clear than other jobs. If you think of a factory worker, they have a clearly defined shift, which is nine to five and they’re producing a tangible product, such as a car. You know when the car is done because all of the pieces have been fit together. Being a teacher is not like this. If you’re working on something like making presentations or making a test for a class or a worksheet, this kind of work can really go on forever. You can always make a presentation a little bit snappier or you can always make a worksheet a little bit clearer. When you’re making something like a worksheet, at some point, the worksheet is going to be serviceable. It’s going to be completely adequate for the educational aim that you’re trying to achieve. If you’re going to continue working, you really need to stop and think for a moment. Would I better spend my time making this worksheet absolutely perfect? Or would my time be better spent moving on to something else? Most of the time, the answer is the latter. You’re better off having two satisfactory worksheets for two different classes than one perfect worksheet for one class, but no worksheet for the other one. Now let’s talk about sick days. Teachers have one of the lowest absentee rates of any profession. And I don’t think that’s because teachers are more healthy than most people. It’s because, as a teacher, sometimes missing a day of work is more of a hassle than just going in, no matter how poorly you may be feeling. Because of this, teachers don’t often take days off work until they’re feeling really poor. Do yourself a favor as a teacher. Spend some time creating lessons to be used in your absence ahead of time. If you make them before you need them, when you actually are sick, you can just call in the school and tell them, “There’s a file in my filing cabinet. It’s called cover work. Everything you need is in there.” Then you can hang up the phone, crawl back into bed and spend your day getting better, as opposed to spending your day worrying about what your students are actually going to do. The last thing I want to talk about is how big projects get done. Something like a cathedral doesn’t just pop into existence. It gets built very slowly over time, one brick by one brick. It’s a good idea to try and carve out at least twenty minutes, maybe thirty minutes, everyday to work on a long term project that’s beneficial to you and your career. For example, if there’s a new computer skill that you need to learn, if you just spend twenty minutes a day on it, you can make real progress on something like that over time. If you set aside daily time to work on your long term projects, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much you can accomplish. When you look back in six months or a year, you’ll be amazed at what you’ve done. And lastly, don’t forget why it is you became a teacher in the first place. The summer holidays.

About James Carlton

Read All Posts By James Carlton

100 thoughts on “Time Management for Teachers (v2)

  1. As a person who thinks of school as mostly a chore I always forget teachers are people with actual problems and barely any time like everyone, this video reminded me of that

  2. 7:20 I just rightout laughed, because the first, like one month this year, one of my teachers didn't show up, she was apperantly ill the whole time, on top of that, she can't hand back a test less than a month to late, and, yes there's more, she promised us snacks nearly an year ago, we haven't got it yet

  3. Im watching this and im not an adult or even planniong to be a teacher, but i think some of this can be helpful for time management not just as a teacher.

  4. I have a question. So I Gmail my history teacher how you shouldn't move the date of a paper by a week and extend the paper by 5 paragraph. And got no response

    Though I overheard her say "Hey I responded to your Gmail look what I said".
    Not to me. At all. I've sent over 4 Gmail's about other things she does stupidly but no response.

  5. Almost 7 years later this is somewhat irrelevant. Everything is on our laptops. However, it still can apply for computer files.

  6. I spend a lot of time trying to decide if the summer holidays make it worth the effort of trying to become a teacher.
    I feel like if I were to follow these tips, it might be.

  7. I liked the old CGP Grey, where is the depressed life management Grey that we used to have!? WHERE!!!

    No but seriously, why dose he sound so crushed in this video?

  8. My science teacher has a notebook that when a kid breaks a rule or misses homework he writes their name in it and they have to bring in multiplication tables from 2 to 15 each one five times if they don't bring it in then it's doubled.

  9. There have been a few state wide Teacher Union marches in the USA. I would love a commentary on America's public education system. Where is the money going? I firmly believe that taxes do not need to be raised, as there is enough money wasted… But also feel like teaching is competitive for the wrong reasons… I wish it was compeitive because it was a high paying field and qualifications were extremely high. but regardless of personal feelings… Do Teachers deserve more of the budget in their salary, should they be given a hirer classroom budget(if they have one at all), or Should teachers be treated like "real" state employees and do additional work in the summer for increased pay. As the starting salaries are relatively similar in a lot of states. Alternatively, private vs public. Should we be done with public schools entirely. An abolished penny for your thoughts.

  10. Would generally like to add that maybe it's a good idea to not have the 'tracking list' on the front page… I did thwis and people could basically see who owed me what… not the handiest.
    For the rest this did indeed change who I look at planning.

  11. While this is helpful content, I am encouraged by how much CGP Grey has learned and improved his videos over the last 8 years.

  12. I am a student but I would on the tracking sheet is if they are going to be out or something important

  13. In your opion as a teacher. Why does language teaching fail? I did all my homework in school and still did not learn.

  14. Hi there, I loved your video! I am a student teacher and it's wonderful to hear how to organize my day. Do you any tips on class room management?

  15. poor students… it has been proven the part of the brain which houses things like time management and self control isnt fully developed in teenagers, not until they are about 19. some students just cant help to not make homework. find a better solution for them. personalized teaching is better than being strict.

  16. honesty I'm just shocked some teachers have to keep track of 500 students all my schools had systems so teachers would only teach 100 students at a maximum and they mostly had a second teacher there too so it could be split up and now that I'm writing this I realize how fortunate I was to grow up in the or one of the richest school districts in the u.s.

  17. In the sixth grade, I didn’t do my homework and my teacher didn’t give a fuck. But suddenly towards the end of the year, she started to give a fuck. I’m convinced that she watched this video.

  18. What the heck why do I not remember seeing this video when I sorted the videos to oldest first, Just Now this video is showing up, how?

  19. Having my first class tomorow as a newly ordained history-geography teacher near Paris.
    Good advices! I'll make sure to follow them. (OMG I'm starting to stress out… 😬😬😬)

  20. This is good time management information for all industries! But for teachers especially, this is good. The folder structure (Class: worksheets / homework) is great.

  21. Personally never loved the school system teachers are under funded and probably stressed, kids are stressed and are going through their teen phase where it’s annoying for a stranger to tell you what to do (teachers take a quick tip teens will not listen if they don’t respect you they will see you has a dictator) the lack of sleep, and lack of actually trying to see where everyone is at and where they want to be at in 13 and would love to be doing math and tons of science but 70% my day is stuff I’ll never bother to use or remeber

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *