If you have spent any time at all teaching a small group special education class, you know that time management skills are a key to your success. You have lesson plans, IEPs, transition plans, progress reports, alternative assessment portfolios, emails, and the list could go on and on. Do you ever get overwhelmed with thinking about your to-do list? Well here are our top 3 time management strategies:
1. Prioritize your to do list
Before the school year begins, sit down and make a list of all the tasks required of you. It may looks something like this:
Meet with my professional learning community once a week
Take data for progress reports
Update my blog
Complete alternative assessment portfolios
Next, after listing all of the “to dos”, you need to prioritize this list. Try to rank the items from most important to least important. Take your top 3-5 items (most important) and develop a schedule for your day that includes addressing these daily.
Which brings me to my next tip:
2. Develop a daily schedule and routine for yourself and stick to it!
Every day before school, during my planning period and after school, I completed the same routine.
For example, one of my top “to-dos” was setting up my class for the next day. Nothing is worse than walking into your classroom feeling unprepared. So, every day as soon as the students left for the bus, I spent 10 minutes setting up my class for the next day. Another high priority item for me was parent communication. If this one item was completed daily, then I knew it would save headaches later! So at 3:45 every day, I sat down at my computer and updated my blog. I used the same format every day. No need to re-invent the wheel or over think a blog post. This task everyday often eliminated parent emails and phone calls. Thus, reducing my next task: answering emails.
Sample blog post or email blast:
“Today our vocabulary word of the day was_____________. We read chapter____ in our book. Please review____________ at home.
Special Events coming up soon:”
Developing a schedule and routine for yourself eliminates that overwhelmed feeling you often have at the end of the school day. You know the feeling, you walk in your room and think where do I even begin? Well, stop thinking that! Unless the building was on fire, every day I completed the same routine – spend at least 10 minutes setting up the room and 10 minutes updating my blog. Also, think in terms of weekly schedules as well. For me, every Tuesday was data collection day. I spent time with each student collecting data on IEP goals and objectives. (Not that I wasn’t taking data the rest of the week- but every Tuesday I was intentional and made sure I had numerical data on each IEP goal and objective.)
Now the third time management tip may surprise you:
3. Schedule exercise
Remember that overwhelmed feeling that I talked about? Here’s another sure fire way to get rid of it, clear your brain and give yourself the ability to refocus your mental energy: exercise daily.
Spend 30 minutes to an hour walking, running, climbing stairs, lifting weights, riding a bike, doing body weight exercises- something! When I say schedule exercise, I mean schedule it and stick to it as if it’s an appointment. Write down “exercise” on your daily planner or set an alarm on your phone. Once you schedule it for the week, you must stick to it. Give it a try! You will see that exercise will allow you to brainstorm ideas and allow you to refocus so that other important “to dos” can be completed.
Let us know if you would like to hear more of our time management strategies in future blog posts by sending us an email at email@example.com