4 Tips to Save Time by Streamlining Your Planning - EB Academics

4 Tips to Save Time by Streamlining Your Planning

If you’ve been teaching for any length of time, chances are you can relate to spending far too much time outside the classroom planning, grading, responding to emails and meeting with your grade-level team….doing all the extra things required of you. While of course, there are some things you can’t change (like those meetings you’re required to attend), you can change how you are spending your time grading and planning. Today we’re sharing with you 4 simple tips to save time and streamline your work outside of the classroom! 

It’s Time to Choose

If you’re really serious about making changes so that this next school year is the year you finally feel confident and in control of your time outside the classroom, then you have to make a choice right now.

Continue grading and planning like you’ve always done, spending far too many hours buried in essays and your plan book; turning down dinner out with friends or playing a game with your own kids.

OR 

Commit to making small changes to start saving time and streamlining your work!

We hope you’ll pick the latter!

Tip #1:Create a Distraction-Free Zone

Consider where you are doing your lesson planning or grading. Is it in your classroom after school when students (and co-workers) are wandering in with questions for you? Is it during your one planning period, as you also attempt to make copies for tomorrow’s lit circle discussion, run to the bathroom, respond to the three parent emails from this morning, and call your dentist to change your oldest child’s appointment? Are you lesson planning or grading at home sitting on the couch with Netflix on in the background?

Notice whether these are ideal environments for you. What would it look like to lesson plan or grade in a distraction-free zone? What action would you need to take to create that distraction-free zone for yourself today?

Does that mean closing your classroom door and hanging up a “Please do not disturb” sign? Does it mean leaving the TV off while you work? Does it mean learning how to Batch Plan and map out your lessons for several months in advance? 

We know that the last one is a commitment, but it becomes the ultimate distraction-free zone when you commit to planning for a set amount of time! (Like two days straight at Batch Planning Live!)

Tip #2: Set a Timer

Will you work for 45 minutes? One hour? Whatever it is, pick your time and stick to it. Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. So, if you give yourself 45 minutes to plan your next two weeks of class, it will take 45 minutes. And if you give yourself 3 hours to plan your next two weeks of class, you can fill 3 hours with planning. Same with grading. If you tell yourself you are allotting 60 minutes to grade two periods’ worth of essays, then that’s what you will fill. 

Of course, this might mean your grading looks different. Perhaps you aren’t circling every misspelled word and leaving a paragraph of comments. Maybe you are relying on a rubric more. And you know what, that’s okay! You might even find that because you’re commenting less, what you do write on students’ papers is more meaningful and actually makes a difference!

So, determine what a reasonable amount of time is to complete a particular task and then stick to it. This will allow you to stay focused! Because you’ve scheduled in only a set amount of time to plan the unit, you will naturally find yourself wanting to honor the time you spend on that task. 

You will be much less likely to respond to a text or grab a snack or quickly check instagram! Setting that timer holds you accountable to finish your work and not waste a minute here and there.

Seems like a pretty good hack, right?

Tip #3: Determine your “go-to” place for lessons!

This is a big one! If you make this change, you’re going to notice you’re not just saving minutes here and there, but instead saving chunks of your time. We’re talking entirely free afternoons and weekends when you don’t even think about work!

Think about how you currently figure out what lessons to teach. 

Do you look through the textbook your school requires you to use and decide the unit isn’t all that engaging? Then maybe you check out Pinterest for some ideas. Then you scroll through TpT, trying to find a unit that has good reviews and is engaging for your 7th graders and still meets the standards and doesn’t take up too much class time. By the time you’re done, it’s been a couple of hours and you haven’t even chosen the lesson yet. So what you think is 3 hours of actual lesson planning on the weekend, might actually be 30 minutes of planning and 2.5 hours of searching.

In fact, have you considered that sometimes you spend more time planning and searching for a lesson than even teaching it?

It doesn’t have to be like this! Instead, you can find ONE PLACE that becomes your “go to” spot for searching for lessons, so you aren’t bouncing back and forth between your textbook and Google and Pinterest and TpT and back to Google. Find a place–whether it’s a textbook, an online community, or a store that has lessons you know you can depend on…lessons that are aligned with what you teach, the language is consistent, the activities are engaging and rigorous…and stick with it.

You’ll be amazed at how much time you save when you have the consistency and dependability on reliable lessons you love for your classroom!

Tip #4: Embrace Chat GPT!

Think about all the questions you spend time coming up with for the novels, short stories, poems, and informational text articles you read in class. Class discussion questions, Socratic seminar questions, quiz questions, etc. This can take hours of your time each week or month if you’re having discussions and quizzes after every few chapters in a novel, for example. You want to make sure the questions require critical thinking, rely on evidence from the text, and are actually interesting for students! It’s a tall order…no wonder it takes a lot of your time and energy to come up with them.

With Chat GPT, you can simply type a command into the website and it immediately generates questions for you. Don’t like what it suggests? You can quickly and easily tweak it to meet your needs. Or need an essay prompt and a mentor text for students, let Chat GPT do it for you! Chat GPT is an ultimate time saver for teachers…we actually recorded three bonus podcast episodes with ideas for you to try with Chat GPT…make sure you check out these episodes that aired back in March.

Something led you to read this particular blog post. Something attracted you to the need to start saving time and streamlining your workload without sacrificing the quality of your instruction. You’re obviously someone with a huge desire to serve your students and to be an outstanding teacher, and at the same time have a life outside of the classroom. 

So, what are you committed to doing differently this coming school year? What tip or hack did you find resonated with you and you’re willing to try? What can you do today to start stepping into being this new type of teacher?

Will you set up your distraction-free work zone? Will you choose your go-to spot for finding quality lessons? Will you utilize Chat GPT? We can’t wait for you to take action and see how it changes your life.

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Then, pick the date you’re going to teach it in your classroom, and sit back while you watch as your students show up to your classroom pumped about what the day holds…and gush about your class to their parents on the car ride home!

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