With any career choice comes a learning curve of how to best handle your stress and manage your time. However, it is no secret working within education can prove especially challenging when it comes to balancing everything. Between lesson planning, parent meetings, teaching and interacting with the students, as well as the lesser-recognized aspects of an education job such as monitoring students for any signs of home-life hardships, event planning, countless hours and hundreds spent to ensure all students have equal supplies and opportunities, and so much more.
With the summer comes a slower work period for educators and with it, a perfect time to introduce new habits to keep you and your classrooms balanced.
Determine the daily priorities
Educators face a unique challenge when it comes to prioritizing the tasks for their classroom to complete. Working with children requires flexibility and an awareness of when students start to feel overwhelmed and burnt out by the project at hand. As an educator, it is important to organize your tasks each day by most to least important and determine plans of action to keep the schedule moving along. That being said, it is also imperative to give yourself grace if the to-do list can’t be completely checked off. An educator who listens to the needs of their students, as opposed to only sticking to the lesson plan, will have greater long-term benefits for students in and out of the classroom. (And it will also help you maintain your own sanity!)
Plan out homework assigned and grading periods
When finding ways to keep students interested in the lesson, as well as make sure they are truly grasping it, it can be challenging to assign homework. Resilient Educator recommends taking time to choose between valuable lessons and problems to cover in class vs. what would best be done at home. Their recommendation is to send home the assignments with repetitive questions and leave the newer or unique content for the classroom. Going along with that, it’s important to assign homework based on grading periods. Long-term homework assignments can be great for students to stay involved but it can also prove a challenge when it’s time to grade. Developing a balance between larger projects and projects that can be graded the day they’re turned in is an often-forgotten way of managing time and stress.
You can say “no”
As an educator, you are presented with many different opportunities- whether it be helping with a fundraiser, serving as an after-school chaperone, or staying late to help tutor students. While students, fellow educators, and parents alike are beyond grateful for the additional tasks you take on, it is important to remember you can, and should, say no sometimes. Your mental and emotional health and goals, both personal and for the classroom, are equally important and you not only deserve, but need, to take care of yourself, too.
Find helpful tools for the classroom
One of the simplest ways to help stay organized and manage your time is to find a software or journaling method to help you keep track of everything. Do you do best with to-do lists you can check off? Great! Treat yourself to a new notebook specifically for that. Do you do better with notifications on your smart device? Excellent! There are so many unique planning apps that will remind you to get things done. (Not to mention, more and more apps based on the needs of educators are being released, including school dismissal software.)
Though there is no one-size-fits-all way to help manage time and keep stress at bay, it’s important to stay open-minded and find new methods if you feel you need a change. We hope some of the easier first steps we shared are able to serve you and your classroom this coming school year.