As my school district closed this week due to an abundance of illness, I’ve begun to consider the concept of batching. Batching is defined as “a form of time management that allows a person to maximize concentration and decrease distraction.”
Batching increases your productivity, creativity, and mental sharpness, while also decreasing fatigue and stress. Batching groups similar tasks—like lesson planning—that require similar resources so we streamline completion.
As teachers, we often allow distractions to dictate our activities. We’re in a constant state of reacting to the needs or interjections of students, parents, and friends. We often allow the priorities of others to supersede our own.
As teachers, working that way (in a perpetual state of shifting tasks and refocusing attention) creates fatigue, stress, and decision fatigue! Did you know that every time we become distracted, it takes an average of 15 minutes to regain complete focus? It’s no wonder we can become frazzled!
The answer to the frazzle of shifting and needing to refocus our attention is simply to batch our lesson planning. In other words, plan for weeks at a time in one sitting.
Through the years, I’ve had “plan days” where my team and I would plan for the six weeks in one day. I didn’t understand at the time why it seemed so awesome. Now I know that having all the resources, content, and laser focus on one task was super productive. We were all working at our best with no distractions and team collaboration.
That sounds ideal but how do we accomplish this in the real world? Here are 3 ways you can implement batching into your year:
Summer. Simply put, a day-long planning session during your much-needed break will offer hours of time saved throughout the coming year. Planning days in the summer are best several weeks into the summer, after you’ve had time to rest and rejuvenate.
I work best the few weeks right before school begins, as I begin to refocus my mind toward the coming year. I get excited about what lies in store for the fall as well.
In-Service Days. In our district, we usually have one in-school, in-service day that we can dedicate to our classrooms. This is the perfect day to batch plan for the coming 6 weeks. It’s so refreshing to have your weeks ahead planned. You’ll feel so much more balanced.
Gifted Plan Days. Several school administrators I know will gift each grade level with a plan day once or twice a year. The school pays for substitute teachers for the whole grade level, while the teachers hole up in a conference room to do their planning. We’re grateful to be able to work collaboratively with no interruptions.
There’s also an occasional “snow-cation”—or in my case, “sick-cation”—that is a great time to batch your work. I’ve used the time to catch up on my grading, but I also plan to batch my lessons for the next few weeks. Even though I don’t have access to a copier, my plan book is online and most of my resources are digital.
Batching minimizes the amount of distraction in our increasingly busy lives, and provides us balance and big-picture planning for the coming weeks. What better gift can we give to ourselves and our students than that?