It often seems that there is never enough time in a semester to achieve everything you intended — and managing time on a day-to-day level is even trickier. Effective time management is essential for presenting well-planned classes and keeping your college students engaged in your lesson plan from the start to the end of class.

In your continued professional development, try these tips for mastering your schedule, prioritizing, and making this a stress-free semester! (Or as much as possible, that is.)

The need for time management

The teaching profession is getting more complicated with tech-savvy students, more complex subject matter and new regulations. Time management is necessary to provide an interesting and focused learning environment. According to Donald C. Orlich in the book Teaching Strategies: A Guide to Effective Instruction, Tenth Edition: “Planning is a top priority for effective time management. Detailed planning is initially time consuming, but teachers who make explicit plans are better organized and progress faster in achieving educational goals…. Teachers who plan and communicate their expectations to their students promote a positive academic environment” (Orlich, 331).

Orlich added that teachers who use successful time management devise an effective plan that explains what, to whom, and how they will teach. Teachers:

  • have materials ready for students
  • keep lessons moving at a brisk pace
  • attend to students who are having difficulties
  • manage interruptions during lessons
  • stress the importance of every lesson
  • plan activities for students who finish lessons or tests early
  • plan smooth transitions between classes
  • critique their day’s work
  • make notes in their lesson planning books
  • create tips for future lessons

Struggling with time management?

Not every teacher is born knowing how to effectively manage their time. Social media can be an excellent resource for help in this area. Use the Internet to find lesson plan ideas, time management tips and answers to questions. Janelle Cox wrote in “Time Management Tips for Teachers” at TeachHub: “All you have to do is post a question on Facebook or Twitter. Then in a matter of a few minutes, other teachers from the world will you give you some ideas.… This will save you hours of time that you can now use on something more productive.”

Instructors can also:

Prioritize assignments and activities from the most important to the least important. That way when time is running short or the class is interrupted for any reason, you can accomplish the vital lesson.

Use down time between classes, before or after lunch, before work and after work, waiting for an appointment, etc. to do those quick little items on your To-Do list.

Manage paperwork so piles of tests, forms, letters, reports, memos, announcements, etc. are either addressed or thrown out. It might take some time to go through those scary piles, but organizing, prioritizing, and discarding them will keep your desk (and mind) clear of clutter. To organize piles, you can make files, alphabetize or color code, and create a timetable of when you can discard them.

Find apps that help with time management and creating lesson plans. There are so many apps available. Just a few appropriate apps for teachers are: ClassDojo for classroom management and feedback; Teacher Aide Pro to record student attendance and information; and ScreenChomp to record your ideas to help you sketch out and explain a lesson or activity on your iPad.

Use your teaching assistant (if you have one) to help grade papers, do tasks on your To-Do list, interact with the students, answer students’ questions, maintain order, and provide feedback.

What are some ways you manage your time?

Reference: Orlich, Donald C., et al. 2013. Teaching Strategies: A Guide to Effective Instruction, 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.