It’s no secret that teacher burnout exists. It’s also no secret that many teachers leave the field in less than five years due to the high demands of teaching. I have two friends that worked at my school and left education in less than five years, partly because of the fact that the time put in was not worth it any longer. Or worse, teaching was compromising their health.
It’s sad because both of these teachers were REALLY good teachers. Like…really good. But they also worked really hard and really long hours. They took work home with them. Teaching was everything to them and they put everything they had into it. That’s why I think time management is so important for teachers.
To be completely honest, the thought of leaving education has crossed my mind many times. But, unlike my teacher friends, I didn’t have a husband (or a savings account) that would allow me the financial security to leave my paycheck while I waited for a new path. So I stayed. And this past year was hard. Like really really hard.
The only thing knew to do was to withdrawal. My first 4 years of teaching I got to work early and left late. I would spend time at home lesson planning, cutting out lamination, creating new management systems. Everything I did revolved around teaching. And it was fun! But then it got old.
Last year, I was walking in with the kids and left on time (if not early). I was burnt out. I didn’t want to be there. Teaching was just a job. And that’s not fun. And it reflected in my classroom. I didn’t have the option to leave it altogether so I did the only thing I knew to do.
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If you are a first year teacher. Or a new teacher. Or even a veteran teacher that is still so excited and in love with teaching, I am so happy for you! I know what it is like to be SO excited about your classroom or an upcoming lesson that you justify the late hours.
I get it. I’ve been there.
Some days I still am there!
But that is why time management is SO imperative. You have to set boundaries for yourself now so that you aren’t running on empty later.
Time Management Techniques
Setting boundaries and time management routines for yourself now, during the summer, is a good way to ensure that you have a way to hold yourself accountable during the school year.
Time Management Boundaries
Like I said above, this past year was really hard for me. I have found some motivation over the summer and am redoing some things in my room aesthetically this upcoming year that I think will help me to be excited about teaching again. But with all the new things I am wanting to implement, I know it means additional time.
So for me, it is really important that I set boundaries for myself. I allow myself one “late night” each week. It is usually Tuesday’s because those are nights that I have ADPi meetings at 5:00. This means I can stay till 4:45 and get things done.
The other days of the week I will be intentional about leaving on time or by 4 at the latest.
I am learning that staying late to accomplish “just one more thing” is not healthy. There will always be “one more thing.” And if I don’t set healthy boundaries for myself, then I will burn myself out again.
Lesson Planning Routines
I love to talk about my lesson planning routine because teachers get so lost in lesson planning and spend hours prepping plans when it really doesn’t need to be that hard. You can read all about lesson planning in my ebook, The Simply Organized Classroom.
But for the purposes of this blog, I will share how I lesson plan.
Every Wednesday and/or Thursday I look at my unit plans and write short handed plans for the upcoming week in my planner. This takes me an hour, tops. Once I am done writing my plans out I list all items I need for each of the activities. On Friday I am able to look at the list and copy, print, or create all the items needed for the upcoming weeks lessons.
Planning like this is such a time saver because all plans are ready and prepped by Friday afternoon. The weekend is free to me and Monday is a refreshing start to the week in which I am prepared and ready for!
The Inevitable List
“But it’s just one.more.thing.!!!”
Everyone has said that. And how many times is it just “one more thing?” Never! I think the to-do list is the number one killer of time management…At least for me.
Keeping a notepad on your desk with a running to do list is an effective way of keeping track of the million little things that come to mind. If you are in the middle of a lesson and all the sudden you remember you need to email that interventionist about an RTI meeting, take 2 seconds to write it down and get it off your brain.
At the end of the day (or during lunch or planning) look through your list and prioritize what NEEDS to get done and what can wait. Then do those things. When you start at your top priority and get those things done first, you are free to leave on time knowing that the list will still be there tomorrow but without the pressures of something needing to be done looming over your head.
Staying Accountable and Being Healthy
Part of time management is staying accountable to the routines and boundaries you set for yourself. Share your goals for time management with a family member, a friend, or even another member on your team. Find someone that you know will tell you when it’s time to take off the “teacher hat” and put on the “you hat.” Those are the best kind of friends.
(Get it? We’re teachers. In hats. Our teacher hats!)
(At least I think I’m funny)
I am in the middle of reading the book Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller. I wrote about it on my 6 Must Read Books for Teachers this Summer blog post. The book is on the concept of Sabbath. Shelly writes about setting aside one day a week (or evening or whatever you can spare) to rest. I am getting SO much out of this book and really excited about implementing the routine of Sabbath once the school year starts. I am trying to do it now but with summer, routines are out the window and I am finding pockets of rest throughout the week.
What makes you peaceful and rested? For me, pulling weeds in my garden is oddly therapeutic. Sitting on the porch and drinking a glass of wine with Cody is rejuvenating for me. She writes that
…when we relax, or enter into a window of daydreaming, the brain does not slow down or stop working at all, but rather many important mental processes happen during those times in the same physiological way the brain works when we sleep at night.” Shelly Miller. Rhythms of Rest.
That was really encouraging to me. Teaching is one of the most creative jobs out there. We are creatives and relaxation is critical to being creative.
I’m no expert at this. Obviously. I just wrote about how much I stunk at managing my time my first four years of teaching that my last year of teaching was miserable for me.
But that can change. I am confident that this upcoming year will be better simply because I am motivating myself with new ideas and holding myself accountable by sticking to boundaries I set up for myself.
I write more about time management in my ebook. Click the graphic below to learn more about it and get your own copy!!!!
You can also read the other blogs in this month’s First Year Teacher Series:
Until next time,