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.
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…
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…
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!
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…
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.
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.
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