Do you ever wish you had more time? I do. Over the years I have found that there are many things that a teacher can do in the classroom to save time.  Having a well managed and organized classroom is the key to a successful learning environment.  I hope that you are able to use some of the ideas listed in these pages. If you have suggestions for Time Management that could benefit another teacher, please send me an email.  Not all suggestions will make it onto the website, but your time and thoughtfulness are appreciated.  Please be sure to put "Time Management" in the subject line.
Thank you,
Mrs. McDavid 

 

Teacher Time Savers

Time management skills are essential for success in the classroom.  As teachers we have very little time in the classroom to do the simplest of tasks.  Teachers always seem to have more to do than there are hours in a day.  Listed below are some simple strategies to help you to win the war against time and build a successful classroom environment.

 

Taking Attendance
Teachers must perform many house keeping tasks each morning such as taking attendance.  Rather than waste time calling out student names to take roll, simply glace around the room to see who is missing by looking for empty desks.   Another idea for taking attendance is to have children pick up a special work folder or notebook from a designated area as they enter the classroom.  Once the bell rings, go through the remaining folders or notebooks to see who is absent and mark your roll book accordingly. 

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Bell Work
Once the bell rings and students enter the classroom, students should have some type of bell work to complete.  At my school we call it a "Do Now" activity.  Bell work can be any activity that requires students to quiet down and focus on their day.  By providing students with Bell Work, the teacher can use her time to complete the morning's house keeping tasks.  Examples of bell work include:

Problem of the Day

Reflective Writing Assignment

Review Questions 

Self Selected Reading

The Daily Bite

Learning Centers

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Assigning Student Numbers
At the beginning of the school year alphabetize students by last name and then assign each student a number.  Students should record their student number at the top of every paper.  Each time papers are collected quickly put them in numeric order.  Missing papers are quickly identified and addressed.  This is also a nice way to organize and allocate class sets of materials.  For example, number clipboards, white boards, markers, highlighters, scissors, etc. with class numbers.  Each time materials are distributed they are given to the student with the matching student number.  This is a great way to save time and make students responsible for retrieving and reshelving materials.

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Giving Directions
It is important to be specific when giving directions.  Many times teachers waste valuable time by giving directions that aren't specific.  Students need to know and understand what is expected of them.  Never assume that they know what you want.  When giving directions, be sure that everyone is listening and focused on you.  Remind students that they may not begin the activity until you say the magic words "NOW YOU MAY BEGIN".  You may even want to invest in a top hat and magic wand.  Adding a little fun during instruction time will grab the students attention and pull them into your instructions.  Should students begin to move around during instructions, stop them and remind them that are to be listening and not doing.  Before releasing students, ask them if they have any questions.  Answer the students' questions and then release them to begin working by saying the magic words.

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Using Name Tags Successfully
At the beginning of the school year, create name tags for each student.  Laminate the name tags for durability and store them for future use.  These redi-made name tags can be used for field trips, substitute teachers, and special guests who visit the classroom.

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Have Materials Ready
A lot of time can be saved during transitions by having students get their materials ready before leaving the classroom for lunch, recess, library visits, etc.   Before leaving their seat, students place the materials they need for the next lesson or activity on their desk.  This is a fantastic way to have students focused and ready to start the next lesson upon re-entering the classroom.

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Assigning Student Jobs
Many teachers waste valuable time each day doing tasks that can be completed by students.  To save time, provide each child in the classroom with a specific job.  By performing jobs in the classroom, students build a sense of community and take responsibility for the classroom environment.  Job rotations can occur daily, weekly, or monthly.  Student jobs include but are not limited to the following:  

Teacher's Assistant - helps the teacher to complete minor tasks such as notes to other teachers or helping absent students catch up with their work.

Recycling Manager - puts out the recycling bin for the environmental club and makes sure that there are no stray pieces of trash on the floor.
Board Monitor - cleans the board at the end of the day and distributes student white boards. Desk Monitor - helps to be sure that desks are neat and orderly at the end of the day. 
Mailbox Manager - helps to distribute papers to go home and makes sure that no student leaves their mailbox at the end of the day. Library Manager - helps to reshelve books in the classroom library and straightens the pillows and supplies in the reading corner.

Materials Manager - distributes and takes up papers and materials in the classroom.

Lunch Monitor - helps to pick up and refile lunch cards at the end of the lunch period. 

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Making Groups
Calling students by groups is a quick way to save time.  Label student desks with various shapes.  These shapes can be purchased through Trend Enterprises and Teacher's Friend or made with Ellison Die Cuts.  Adhere the cut out to the student's desk with roll laminate and then use a permanent marker to record the student's number.  Use at least five different shapes so that you have five groups (frogs, butterflies, pups, bees, ladybugs, etc.)  When calling students to line up, come to the carpet, take up work, etc., call students by groups.  When lining up say "Frogs, please line up".  It's a fun way to get students going in the right direction and saves time because students are organized.  At the end of the year, use 91% alcohol (or the strongest solution of alcohol you can find) to remove the permanent marker and the die cut can be reused.

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Keeping Track of Absent Students
When students are absent from school make-up work can quickly pile up and take a great deal of time away from both the teacher and returning student.  Designate a student, perhaps the Teacher's Assistant, to record the day's tasks on a "We Missed You While You Were Out" form and file all necessary papers and worksheets in a designated work folder.  Once the absent student returns to school, he picks up his work folder and locates a "Teacher's Assistant" who explains how to complete the missing work and answers as many questions as possible.

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Keeping Track of Missing Homework
Keeping track of missing homework can become a nightmare for teachers.   When a student does not complete his homework, he fills out a Missing Work Notification form.  Copies can be easily maintained by creating a folder that is readily available to students.  When homework is not turned in, students pull the form and complete each section.  The student fills in their name, the name of the missing assignment, and an explanation for why the assignment is missing.  The form is then sent home for the parent to sign.  In order to keep track of what is missing, record the students name and missing assignment on the Incomplete Work board.  Once the student returns the assignment, the student can erase his name.

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Sharpening Pencils
Sharpening pencils throughout the day can be a waste of valuable instruction time.  Allocate a specific time of day for pencils to be sharpened.  First thing in the morning and just after lunch are good times for students to sharpen pencils.  Have extra pencils sharpened and available for students whose pencil breaks during an activity.  In order to get borrowed pencils back, label pencils with a sticker or use a specific color of pencil.  In addition, display signs at the pencil sharpener so that students know when the pencil sharpener is open and when it is closed.  Signs can be purchased at your local Staples Office Supply store and directions for the signs can be easily made using Microsoft Word's clip art and word art.  

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Removing Permanent Marker
To remove permanent marker from laminated materials use nail polish, hair spray, or rubbing alcohol.  Rubbing Alcohol works the best but the percentage must be no less than 91%.  To remove permanent marker from clothes use toothpaste.

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Keep Baby Wipes Handy
Baby Wipes are a real time saver in the classroom.  Use baby wipes to clean white boards, remove ink from transparencies, wipe down desks, clean dirty hands, etc.

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Using Computer Labels
Computer labels save a lot of time when repeating important information.  Invest in address labels, folder labels, and shipping labels.  These printer friendly labels have many uses and are quick and easy to use in the classroom.  Listed below are the many uses for using computer labels:

1.  Address Labels - Use to create teacher comments to parents
     ("Graded Papers Sent Home Today)

2.  Address Labels - Use to create positive comments for students
     ("Awesome Reader", "Super Speller")

3.  Address Labels - Print a list of student names for students to label 
     their school supplies.

4.  Address Labels - Create a list of address labels for students.  Each 
     month send home positive postcards letting parents know how their 
     children are doing in school.  With a set of address labels it is quick  
     and easy to see which parents have been notified and who you need  
     to send postcards to.  

5.  Use Shipping Labels for larger comments to parents and students.

6.  Use Shipping Labels to label tubs and boxes for easy storage.

7.  Use Shipping Labels to label notebooks and folders.

8.  Use folder labels to create back-to-school labels for items that you 
     will need year after year.  Save the file and then simply print out your 
     new labels each year.

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Creating a Sub Folder
Creating a Sub Folder will save a lot of valuable time when planning for a substitute teacher.  Invest in a 2-inch binder with tab dividers.  It is very important to be organized because a substitute will not be familiar with classroom rules and procedures.  Include important information in the binder so that the sub will have a successful day and want to come back.  A successful sub folder will need to include the following information. 

  1.  A letter to the sub welcoming her/him to your class.
    
  2.  Important school information: contact numbers for the school, the 
       name of the principal and assistant principal, the names of the team 
       members in your grade level, directions to the adult bathroom, etc.

  3.  School Map
  
  4.  Daily Schedule (include any labs or pull out programs)

  5.  Class List with Contact Numbers

  6.  Seating Chart

  7.  Classroom Rules and Procedures

  8.  Emergency Procedures
 
  9.  Lesson Plans

10.  Dismissal List with Procedures

When a sub comes to visit the only information that you will need to update are the Lesson Plans, Seating Chart (should it change), and Class List (should it change).  You may also want to include blank notebook paper so that the substitute can leave you detailed notes about the day's events.

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