I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to be completely honest here. It may be difficult to answer. Okay, here’s the question…are you ready?
Do you ever run around your room like a chicken with your head cut off?
I’m serious here. I know when I have a few minutes of time and a to-do list that includes 157 items, I’m running all over my room from one task to another, not really accomplishing anything. To be completely honest, I used to do that. But that’s in my past so we don’t need to talk more about that..shhh…no need to tell anybody.
But do you still run around your room like a chicken with your head cut off?
I know you know what I mean. We teachers can go a little crazy because our to-do list IS 157 items long—at least—especially at the beginning of the year or the end of the day or during our plan time.
But we can stop that insanity. We can save ourselves maybe 30 minutes to an hour each day. Could you imagine that? The gift of an extra 30 minutes in your day!
How do we do decrease our insane to-do list and save time? It’s simple.
Make another list. Wait! Hear me out!
By making a Stop Doing List, we can save our precious time and alleviate a big part of our anxiety. Making the list is super simple, but not easy.
First, make a list of as many items as you can think that do not require your expertise in the classroom. Think of anything you do that does not require a professional development course, or college work, or even experience to do. Here a few things from my list:
- Sharpening pencils
- Cleaning the classroom
- Sorting papers
- Passing out papers
- Cutting anything
- Checking student folders
- Stuffing folders
- Erasing boards
- Checking off completed homework
- Getting together missed work
Get the picture? After you’ve come up with your list, determine who will do it. Do you have a parent volunteer, a student teacher, or students to whom you can delegate items?
Your students can help—and will help—much more than you probably realize. Even if you teach kindergarten, 5 year olds can sharpen pencils, sort papers, cut, and clean a room. I taught 4 year olds how to hang up their jackets, wipe down tables, and sort recyclables. That age especially loves cleaning!
So, create a Stop Doing List and begin training your students soon to do classroom jobs that must be done, but do not require a skilled teacher to do them!
You will not only save yourself time, you’ll instill responsibility and brighten their little souls. I know you want to take care of your students, so you may not naturally think of putting your students to work. But giving them responsibility helps the students, and you too. They are responsible for their learning, and learning to help in the classroom is just another aspect of their growth.
Let’s guard our most precious resource as teachers: time. As a teacher, you’re the world’s most precious resource.