in Productivity

7 ways to improve your productivity as a teacher

I’m fairly productive. Not outstandingly so, but reasonably. I try to pick up tips for improving my outputs from websites such as Lifehacker, amongst others. What follows is a brief rundown of seven tips for being more productive as a teacher. :D

Alarm clock

Get to, and leave, school early

My grandmother used to always say that an hour’s sleep before midnight is worth two hours after midnight. I feel a bit like that with the school day. An hour’s work before school, for me, is so much more productive than staying back for an hour after school. It also means that I can get back earlier to see my family before my son goes to bed.

Oh, and the photocopier’s usually less busy at 7.30am… ;)

Remember The Milk

Use Remember The Milk

I’m definitely going to post more extensively about this in future, but if you haven’t discovered the wonder that is the almost natural language understanding of Remember The Milk, you’re missing out! It’s really easy to use, you can use it with GMail and Twitter, and it’s a really handy organizational tool. Seeing at-a-glance what I need to be doing stops me procrastinating, doing stuff I just enjoy doing, or spending too long crafting a lesson/resource. There’s more about RTM at Lifehacker.

Which brings me nicely onto…

Perfectionism

Don’t be a perfectionist

I learned the hard way that teaching is not a profession for those who have a tendency towards perfectionism. One just does not have time to do everything perfectly. It’s the pedagogy and learning behind the lesson resources and activities, not the resources and activities themselves, that are important. Give yourself a time limit, or stick something on the wall where you usually lesson plan, etc. to remind you to just STOP!

Google Docs

Keep schemes of work on Google Docs

Not just schemes of work, but anything to which you want to be able to refer quickly and easily. The added benefit of using something like Google Docs, Zoho, or a wiki is that you can easily bring in other people to collaborate. I can’t remember the last time I used Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org.

Which brings me on to…

Jigsaw piece

Build upon the work of others

Don’t re-invent the wheel. It’s almost certain that someone will have taught a lesson very similar to the one you plan to teach before. It’s very likely that someone will have taught that lesson well. If that’s the case, a description of that lesson and the resources to go with it are probably on the Internet somewhere. It’s just a case of knowing where to look. History teachers, for example, can go straight to historyshareforum.com and schoolhistory.co.uk. :D

Burst

Work in bursts

It’s easy to think that if we haven’t got time to complete (or at least have a good go at) something then it’s best deferred until we do have more time. That’s not always the case. You can go through and just plan the intended lesson outcomes for a sequence of lessons. Then, you could come back and come up with a starter activity if you had a few moments spare. Working in short bursts means that you end up getting more done, altogether. You do have to be organised, however, which is where Remember The Milk (see above) comes in.

Google Calendar

Plan lessons using Google Calendar

I’ve blogged a couple of times before over at the now-defunct teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk (here and here). My use of it is constantly evolving, and I should probably post an update over here, but suffice to say it’s great for those who have ubiquitous Internet access at home and school. I can see at a glance which lessons are still to plan, can automatically insert a lesson structure and can briefly evaluate my lessons. The added bonus in planning online is that you can link to web-based resources to be used on an interactive whiteboard straight from your planning!

There’s 7 tips from me – what teacher productivity tips can YOU share? :p

  • http://www.dougbelshaw.com Doug Belshaw

    Thanks Paul, I'd be interested in your advice too – always looking to pick up tips! :-D

    • http://paulhami.edublogs.org Paul Hamilton

      This is sage advice, indeed–practical wisdom with effective 21st century tools! This post gets starred and shared in my reader.

  • http://www.primarymfl.ning.com/ Jo Rhys-Jones

    Great ideas – love remember the milk – not heard of it before.
    my tips are:
    1.Tesco.com – order online and get it delivered. If the only time you get with your kids is at the weekends/eves you really don’t want to be dragging them round the supermarket..
    2.Never ever fall out with your childminder…
    3.NEVER!!!
    4.RSS feed readers
    5.Del.icio.us – so you are not hunting around each time you have to work from a new computer.
    6.SatNav – I luuuurv my new Tom Tom. Now I can be lost but still know where I am!

  • http://lisibo.blogspot.com Lisa Stevens

    I have to agree with your advice above – I think you’re becoming something of a life coach! I particularly agree with your comment about perfectionism – find that one very hard but learning!!
    And also arrive early, leave early – a problem if childcare doesn’t open until 8am but definitely works where possible.
    My tip – and I feel very hypercritical saying this as I’m the worst ever at it – is to learn to say ‘no’ to things that really aren’t your job and you’re only doing because you feel you ought to.

  • http://www.dougbelshaw.com Doug Belshaw

    Thanks Jo and Lisa. I take it you’re both very much dependant on your childcare for your productivity! I suppose my wife’s the same.

    Lisa, you’re correct about learning to say ‘no’. Sound advice! :-)

    • http://www.nickafrancis.co.uk Nick Francis

      As a more visual learner and a D&T Teacher, I thought I'd add slide.com to that list above. I couldn't live without it now……My pupils produce their finished piece of work….we then upload it via usb/bluetooth to the pc/mac and then send to slide.com to display. No charge…no limit on slideshows and you can also change the themes etc……BRILLIANT!