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. New teachers have so much excitement + a million things to do that its natural that time management for first-year teachers is a struggle.
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Teacher Burnout is Real
When I was teaching I had two friends who worked at my school and left teaching 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.
I left the classroom after six (granted that was largely because my husband’s job moved us aborad), but a drastic change was in my future whether my husband’s job permitted it or not.
It’s sad because both of these teachers (and myself) 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. Time management for first-year teachers (and all teachers, really) is so important.
Luckily after they both took a break from teaching, they returned to education. However, they both returned in a different capacity.
My story, however, is a bit different. I started to feel burned out in year four. The only thing knew to do was to withdrawal. During 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 behavior management systems.
Everything I did revolved around teaching. And it was fun! But then it got old.
By my fifth year of teaching, 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.
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 for First-Year Teachers
Setting boundaries and time management routines for yourself is a good way to ensure that you have a way to hold yourself accountable during the school year.
It is really important that you set boundaries for yourself. I recommend teachers allow themself one “late-night” each week, two max! This is a day when you can plan to stay a bit later and work on things that require a bit more time or concentration.
The rest of the days, leave on time (or shortly after the end of your contract time). Staying late to accomplish “just one more thing” is not healthy. There will always be “one more thing.” And if you don’t set healthy boundaries, it will lead to burn out
Create a Lesson Planning Routine
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.
The Simply Organized Classroom eBook shares all about how you can make your own lesson planning routine that works for you and your schedule. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Choose a day each week to work on lesson plans. This is your “lesson planning day”
- Write out short handed plans in your planner (Erin Condren is my fav teacher planner!)
- List out all materials needed for the upcoming week and then spend Friday gathering, copying, printing, or creating all of the necessary materials.
Utilize Intentional To-Do Lists
You know the struggle….”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 brain dump 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 a 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.
(Get the free To-Do Lists downloadable now and be notified when I host a free live training on how to utilize your to-do lists!)
I’m no expert at this. Obviously. I just wrote about how much I stunk at time management as a first-year teacher.
I have, however, found a healthier balance of time working and time enjoying the things I enjoy.
Until next time,