Prioritizing Your Teaching Life (Part 5) – Logistics

Article by Christy Vacchio

In the well known book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey has dedicated Habit #3 to “Personal Management.” In essence, everyone will have activities that will fall into one of 4 categories. While most people tend to work under that category of putting out the fires, it is often more productive to work on the activities that are important but not urgent.

All Those Other Things You Have To Do Besides Teach

Think about all of the “other things” you have to do besides teach. In the elementary school, it might be things like collecting field trip money, taking attendance, attending staff meetings, volunteering at the fall carnival or bake sale. In the upper grades, you might have bathroom supervision, bus duty, commencement exercises, or sports events. While these duties will vary from district to district and even from school to school, every teacher has these non-teaching duties and you will not be excused from them. However, you can prioritize these activities and they don’t have to take over your life or interfere with your classroom instruction.

Find Tasks That Can Do Double Duty

Taking attendance can be done in so many ways, but rather than taking up your time, how about having students pick up their notebook as they come in or placing their names into a lunch choice. You now have automatic attendance (and just have to enter into the computer) and students have completed two tasks in one.

If you are on cafeteria duty, why not use that time to build relationships with the students. Get to know them outside of the classroom by asking them about their outside activities (How did your last game go? How is your new puppy?) instead of gossipping with your colleagues. On bus duty, why not take the time to build relationships with the parents. Mention how well behaved the students are as they get out of the car. If the student(s) are one of your current students, mentioning something positive to the parent quickly will go a long way toward building that relationship that is so necessary before addressing an area of concern.

Just Say No

Sometimes you just have to say no to activities and tasks that are not required. While you may want to serve on multiple committees because you feel guilty if you don’t, there is a limit to how much you can do and you don’t want to get burned out on volunteering. It is not necessary for you to bake cupcakes every month for everyone’s birthday. Just because there are multiple lines on the volunteer lists for the year, doesn’t mean you have to sign up for every single activity. Check with your principal and your contract to determine what is required. Then compare that with your other family or personal activities and schedule them accordingly. Also, leave yourself some margin. Creating margin in your day can ultimately allow you some breathing room and help you to not feel so rushed and frazzled on a daily basis.

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