Teaching is an exhausting, demanding job. And part of being a new teacher is finding a solid workflow. This takes time. It can feel inefficient. You’ll have moments when you are finishing half of the tasks you thought you would accomplish. The following are a few ideas for saving time in your first few years of teaching.

Ten Time-Saving Tips for New Teachers

The following are some time-saving tips you might want to try out.

  1. Make all your photocopies on one day. There’s power in choosing to batch your work. It might take you an hour to make the copies but it’s better than spending half an hour for five days in the copy room.
  2. Speed up your email communication. Create some templates for frequent communication (letter of concern, positive email, etc.) that you can copy and paste. Keep one calendar for all your devices and keep the calendar open with your email. When going through your email, answer each one and then archive. My goal is to maintain “inbox zero” every single day. It doesn’t always happen but it helps keep things moving quickly.
  3. Outsource jobs to your students. One of the guiding questions I ask myself is, “What am I doing for students that they could be doing for themselves?” When I taught middle school, I had students create the bulletin boards, write the classroom newsletter, and do a host of other non-teaching related jobs that had been a time suck for me.
  4. Grade less but assess more. You don’t have to grade everything. If you need grades in a gradebook, you can absolutely use checkmarks and give full credit for students turning it in. However, you can also walk around class with a clipboard and mark off whether or not students are mastering the content (this works great for things like pair-shares and Socratic Seminars).
  5. Schedule student-teacher conferences. If you’re interested, you can download the templates here. But the idea is to meet one-on-one and give feedback during the class period while the student is sitting next to you. Here, the feedback is immediate and students can have a conversation rather than the typical one-way method of assessment.
  6. Partner with trusted teachers. If possible, partner with fellow teachers and then divide up your planning. I used to partner with my this amazing teacher Javier. We had a similar philosophy of project-based learning. When we both taught split 7/8 classes, we wrote lesson plans for one grade level and then shared them with each other. I could then modify his lessons and use them in my own classroom.
  7. Pay attention to your energy level. This might not seem like a time hack but there’s some fascinating science out there about how time of day affects your productivity. If you’re an early bird, get up early and work but then give yourself the permission to leave at the end of the day. Likewise, if you’re a night owl, you might do better working later at night.
  8. Streamline your organizational system early. Teachers waste a lot of time when they don’t have a handle on the paper trail. For example, I used student numbers rather than names. Students would write their number on each paper and it corresponded with their place in the gradebook (so a student with the last name Jones in third period might be 312). When students turned in work, I could quickly put them into numerical order or ask a student to sort them quickly.
  9. Make templates. Create templates for activities you do often and then modify those templates. For example, you might have a close reading activity or a math discourse activity you do with your students. You can modify the templates for new concepts but still use those templates for your handouts or your PowerPoint slides.
  10. Just say no. This isn’t a time-saving hack. It’s more of a philosophy. Give yourself permission to say “no” to certain voluntary requests. You don’t have to be a member of every committee or chaperone every dance. Should you sometimes do those things? Absolutely. But you can also say “no,” and then choose to rest. Your students need a well-rested, energized teacher.

What else would you add? Share your favorite time-saving tips in the comment section below.

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