How to be Efficient in Your Classroom

Hello hello! I am so glad that you are here today reading this. This blog post is a good one: it’s all about being efficient in the classroom. This is something that I am very passionate about (and I feel that I am pretty good at it as well.) Did you know that you don’t have to be the last car in the parking lot everyday to be a good teacher? You certainly don’t have to be there on the weekends either. I want to talk about a few ways that you can be efficient while still giving your students an amazing classroom experience. This is especially true right now. As we all know we are in the middle of something crazy. Some of us are going back face to face while others are still teaching virtually. Let’s chat about those going back face to face and see what we can do to make ourselves not go crazy.

What Makes an Efficient Teacher?

In my opinion an efficient teacher is on that truly does care for their students. The end goal for the teacher is to ensure that their students are well taken care of, appreciated, respected and able to learn in the classroom. When you have a goal to help humans be their best you are certainly going to be efficient. Why? Because you are going to want to be all the things for the students. You are going to want to show up and make it so they LOVE learning. However you can’t do that if you are tired can you? NO. You need to make sure that your energy is spent in ways that will not only help you but will also help your students.

How can I be more efficient as a teacher?

I really did some soul searching with the question because I feel like I needed the answer for myself as well. Then it hit me: SAY NO. Excuse me? Say what? You heard me right, SAY NO. There is no way that you can pour from an empty vessel. You need to fill your soul with what makes you happy and excited so that you can show up and be efficient. When someone asks you to do something last minute you are allowed to say no. If you don’t have time to do something, or you are going to have to put off what you are looking forward to you can say no. It is SO important that we are teachers take time for ourselves to recharge. When you are tired, exhausted, sad, lacking excitement, whatever it may be…you can’t show up for your students and be efficient. You just can’t. So take time for yourself and learn to say NO.

How can I be efficient during prep time?

I have to admit that I used to be THE WORST when it came to prep time. I would think that this was the time for me to run around and clean up everything that I had forgotten about. Before I knew it I had wasted half my prep period cleaning up things I let slide and then I didn’t have enough time to do what really needed to get done. So in order to be efficient during my prep time I have set goals that I need to accomplish on certain days. Here is an example:

  • Monday: Lesson Planning following week and gathering copies
  • Tuesday: Writing my weekly newsletter and weekly email (schedule for a later send date)
  • Wednesday: Tidy up the room and put things away
  • Thursday: Make the copies for the following week’s lesson
  • Friday: Organize the following week’s items and feet up!

My schedule to stay efficient is not a huge one. I try to not put too much on my plate during these prep periods because I want to make sure that I get it all done and feel accomplished! Are there days that I slack? of course. But I pay for it later down the road.

How can I be efficient with parent communication?

This is one that I struggled with and just recently started to really get a hold of. Emails can be daunting and your inbox can consume your day if you let it. What I started doing was writing emails in bulk and then doing a schedule send so that I can have a chunk of time to write and not worry about them. For example there might be a week where I am sending out a Scholastic book order, teacher conference, weekly newsletter and follow up email to something else. I will sit down and write all of them at the same time however I will schedule them on different days. This way I don’t have to stress about them! It has made my life so much easier let me tell you!

How to be efficient while lesson planning

I admit that I used to plan my years and not look at the previous one. I wanted all my students to have a unique experience in the classroom. Then I realized that I was reinventing the wheel every single year. With curriculum there are things that you have to teach, and they go in order. There’s no reason for you to not look at last years plans and see what you were doing. If you are digital like myself a simple copy and paste has your lesson in and ready to go. I still make the classroom experience fun and unique for all my students however there are things that we have to teach, so don’t waste time retyping them and searching for something else. If it worked last year then give it a go this year as well!

How can you start being more efficient?

In order to be efficient we all have to start somewhere right? For me I did two things that really helped. First I made my weekly to-do list. I sat down and wrote out what needed to be taken care of during my prep periods. This helped me to stay on track and not waste time. The other item (and more important) was that I picked 2 days a week that I was going to leave on time. That’s right, I was going to leave on time. I stuck to it as well. Knowing that it was a day I was leaving on time helped me to stay focused throughout the day. I promised myself that I would leave and I didn’t want to be stuck at the copy machine past my departure time. Try these two things and see if they work for you. I think you will also see amazing results.

Remember that this year we have to take care of ourselves. Teacher burnout is real (and happens!) and if there ever was a year for it well this is it my friends. Our mental health is the most important and so efficiency is going to be key in ensuring that we keep our cool.

I would love to hear how you are staying efficient this school year so send me an email at classroomsandcats@gmail.com and tell me what you are doing!