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Work Hours for Teachers

Have you ever heard people say that teachers' work hours are ideal? It's true that the actual work day is over by 3:00 or 4:00 pm, but teachers' work hours usually extend far beyond student contact time. In order to maximize teachers' work hours, mentors, building principals, and supervisors should encourage individual teachers to develop time management skills. Look at our 5 tips that can help teachers manage their time better:

1. Developing a Routine

Part of the challenge inherent in maximizing teachers' work hours is the fact that there are so many diverse tasks to accomplish. Rather than attempting to do a little bit of many different things, create blocks of time in your routine for completing similar tasks. For example, write your lesson plans for the upcoming week on Wednesdays, and stay after school on Thursdays to make any photocopies you'll need for the upcoming week. This consistency saves you from going down to the copy room each day, waiting in line, and feeling rushed. Similarly, create routines for grading papers, sorting your mail, and maintaining an organized classroom.

2. Scheduling Time for Parent Contact Work

Another task you'll need to plan into your regular work hours is contacting parents. For example, use the first thirty minutes at the end of each school day to make phone calls and/or respond to parent e-mails. By blocking out this time, you ensure that important messages aren't left unanswered, and you save yourself from having the task continually hanging over your head, which zaps your energy and makes for an inefficient use of time.

3. Using Technology to Save Time

In addition, make sure that you're using technology to your advantage. It's often easier to send parents a quick e-mail than to call home and initiate a game of phone tag, particularly if you just need to notify them of an upcoming event or due date. Additional technologies that you should explore, in the interest of maximizing your work hours, include typing your lessons plans and teacher-created support materials, so that you can easily make any necessary changes from year to year without having to start over from scratch. Notes that you used to hand-write on the chalkboard or whiteboard can now be typed into the computer and printed onto overhead transparency sheets or displayed directly onto a classroom monitor, which will free up some of your time and energy during class to assist students.

4. Encouraging Parental Involvement

Your students' parents are your partners in their education and development. Make sure that you take advantage of any willing volunteers who can assist you with routine tasks such as placing book orders, changing bulletin boards, and even assisting students in the classroom. In addition, be sure to follow any school and district guidelines pertaining to volunteer clearance and/or background checks before you initiate a regular routine with parent volunteers.

5. Making Time for Self-Care, Too

Few teachers find that their work hours actually end with the conclusion of the school day. In addition, the combination of working long hours and coping with frequent crises can leave teachers feeling irritable and burned out. Therefore, make sure that you build into your regular work hours some time for self-care as well. For example, when your students are engaged in silent reading for ten or fifteen minutes, sit down with a book yourself. This will help you build some down time into your day, while also providing an opportunity to model a genuine love of reading for your students.

Finally, there are many benefits to the work hours of teachers. However, in order to effectively accomplish all of your responsibilities and not feel burned out by mid-year, it's important to develop work habits and routines that work for you, not against you.


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