Tag Archives: time management tips

Think Time for Planning Lessons and Life

What exactly is think time? For me it’s a block of time that I actually set aside to just sit and think. What, you ask in shock? Who has time to just sit and think? Isn’t that just a waste of time, sitting and thinking? The short answer is no. Think time makes me more efficient so my job is easier. Therefore my life is more enjoyable.

But why do you have to just sit and think? Can’t you think while out walking or doing something else? Of course you can, but real think time for me can’t come with any distractions. It really requires all of my concentration. It’s meant to let me focus on one major problem. It makes all the gray matter work very hard. I sometimes visualize it as a fusion of all my brain cells coming together to problem solve.

I have been using think time for years. When I was in the classroom think time was a tremendous asset. Sometimes I would have a student who was having problems. I would allow myself a 15-minute block of time to just ponder about a particular child. I always started with questions, What was the problem? How did it manifest itself? Was there a trigger? Was I the trigger? Could something be re-taught to make it easier for the student? Was a behavior problem part of the frustration of not learning something? Or was there a problem at home I wasn’t aware of?

I’ve actually created a model for myself for think time. I start with a question and then think through the answer. This of course creates more questions and that creates an interior dialogue. I don’t allow myself to refer to experts or read about the problem, although that might eventually be part of the solution. I just let my mind move, although not aimlessly wander. It’s extremely important to stay focused on the problem I have posed to myself. Often times I recall some small detail that I had not remembered and it was all I needed to realize how to solve the problem.

One of these think time problems was a 7th grade student named Gilbert. Gilbert was really one of the worst behavior problems I’d ever encountered. He didn’t finish anything, took no responsibility for bringing any supplies to class, and thought nothing about talking back. You know it was good day when Gilbert was called out of class which was quite often. Since we were both going to be together in class for a whole year it behooved me to think about Gilbert and what I might do to help him.

I remember staying in my classroom one day during my lunch period just to think about Gilbert. I realized I had never met his parents. They never came to school functions. It took a lot of work, but finally one day I got Gilbert’s mother to school. There was no dad. I invited Gilbert to join us. To say it was an eye-opening experience is an understatement. Gilbert’s mom was just like her son. She had trouble sitting. What came out of her mouth was astonishingly rude. But at least I understood where he learned his behavior. Talk about modeling.

Did I solve Gilbert’s problems with my think time. I’m afraid I didn’t. But did I understand this boy better? Absolutely. I understood what some of his limitations were and why. We both got along much better after this, making my class a much happier place to learn. My think time had a positive outcome.

I still use think time. At TCR I often use it to concentrate on books and other editorial projects that just might need a bit of help when they are stalled. In my personal life it helps me to make decisions about all types of problems including some as simple as why the laundry isn’t getting done to whether we really need a new internet service.

Do you have your own version of think time? How does it work and how do you use it to help solve classroom problems?

Time Management Tips for Teachers: Part III of IV

Part II: Keeping Your Classroom Organized 

Part two of our “Time Management Tips for Teachers” series is all about staying organized. (For tips on how to organize your classroom, see previous post, “Tips for Classroom Organization“). Once you have your classroom organizational system in place, it is important that you maintain it as if it were the health of your classroom. You must exercise the system, feed it, tend to it, show it proper care, and believe in it for it to work.

Always remember to make sure you have a chance at the beginning of the day, during the day, or at the end of the day for simple maintenance. A few simple tasks for classroom maintenance include:

  • Moving classroom furniture back in its place.
  • Keeping classroom information up to date.
  • Making sure calendars are up to date.
  • Making sure you are caught up with correcting.
  • Making sure you are caught up with recordkeeping. Try using record books to help you with this.
  • Making sure you are ahead on lesson planning. For help with lesson planning, check out ClassroomZoom.com.
  • Making certain you are prepared with lesson plan materials gathered. Use file folders to keep everything together and secure. 
  • Making certain you are completing all daily tasks. Try making a check list (and checking it twice 😉 ).
  • Checking to make sure you have a minimum in your “immediate business file.”
  • Making sure you have no mail in your mail pile at the end of your day.
  • Making sure you are updated on parent communication.
  • Making certain your files are organized and you haven’t stuffed unwanted papers into your files.

Keeping the above tasks up-to-date and maintained will keep you organized, proficient, and stress free. If you notice that you have overlooked any of the above, such as falling behind in reading your mail, plan a time during the day to complete it. Try writing it down as a task to help you remember to follow through on it.

You may also find it helpful and worthwhile to maintain a stocked supply cabinet with necessary supplies such as file folders, notepads, lesson planners, and other useful teacher supplies to keep you organized. Everything goes smoother with the right supplies, so it is always useful to have them ready in your classroom. If you are running low and need to restock your supply cabinet for the new year, the holiday gift-giving season may be a perfect time to do so. Let friends and family know if you would like any teaching materials or supplies as gifts if they ask. You can also ask parents or your school for donations.

For more tips on keeping your classroom organized, check out

Time Management Tips for Teachers: A Four-Part Series

Time management is by far one of the most important aspects of being a teacher. You must realize that your time is valuable and work hard to use your time wisely in the classroom, as well as outside of the classroom as it pertains to your job. In the following posts, you will find a four-part series on time management tips for teachers. Take note of the seconds and minutes of your day that could be used more wisely and you may find that time well-spent organizing and planning will allow for more quality time spent with friends and family.

Part I: Seconds and Minutes Count
When you arrive at school, realize that your job and day have begun. You need to get down to business immediately. Don’t be unsocial, but do be disciplined. Look at your goals and priorities. If your goals are to be an outstanding teacher, to be organized, and to have time left over for your family, then work toward those goals in everything you do. Get your work—at least most of it— done during the day. The following steps will help you learn how to use every minute, indeed every second, to its full capacity. Taking these steps will enable you to use the often-wasted time for something productive.

Always remember, however, that your first priority is the students. Be skilled enough at doing little tasks while still being fully available to the students at all times. Don’t get so engrossed with a task—such as correcting spelling tests, for example—that you miss the opportunity to observe or interact with the students. If you are using the time during recess to correct tests, yet you have a student who is worried about an assignment, make sure you make time for the student. Students are your first priority!

  • Use the few minutes it takes the students to wash their hands before lunch to correct something (such as the spelling tests) or to go through your mail.
  • Use the few minutes it takes for kids to move from one class to the next to jot down notes about a student.
  • Use the time before a meeting begins to update your task list, write notes, review lesson plans, or correct papers. (Be organized enough before a meeting to gather the work to bring to the meeting.)
  • Use the time you are supervising children (if it is appropriate, such as during a video or TV program) to correct papers or review work.
  • Use the time after school when the children have left to follow up on business.
  • Use the time during recess to get something substantial completed.

Each of these “moments” adds up to a substantial amount of time that can be spent completing various important tasks throughout the day. Learn to recognize the importance of each second. Soon you will be using your time well, and you will find that at least sometimes at the end of the day you can go home with an empty school bag. Whether you are spending these little moments interacting with students, observing them, or accomplishing tasks, you will begin to appreciate the value of time.