Time management can be a huge challenge for seasoned teachers, let alone those who are new to the classroom. As an NQT, you might be tempted to earn your stripes and prove yourself as a “real” teacher by burning the candle at both ends.
But this year is actually your chance to get into positive and healthy habits for managing your time. Here are my tips for how to do this:
- The early bird does not get a sticker Nobody will give you a gold star for Instagraming your alarm clock when it goes off at an insanely early hour. Think about your time carefully. When and how do you work best? When will you be most productive? Plan a “power hour” for each day, when you give yourself uninterrupted, focused time to get things done.
- Plan smart You will clearly consider the workload of your children when planning out your weekly lessons, but remember to consider your own, too. If you have a lesson that is going to give you a heavy marking load, try to balance it out with another that will allow you to use peer-assessment, or give verbal feedback.
- Consider impact Will that perfect image that you spent three hours trawling Google for really have an impact on Year 9? Will a primary class notice whether your clip art is perfectly coordinated across all of your resources? Design is important, but don’t get sucked into the black hole of seeking perfection.
- Anticipate heavy workload Invest in a diary and use it to plan out your week so that you can see your “pinch points”. The aim should be to anticipate when you might need to put extra time in, but also to balance this with absolute downtime, perhaps by making a personal pact not to work after hours on a particular day.
- Don’t disappear It will be easy to forget that a world exists outside of dry-wipe boards, Post-it notes and green biros. You might be tempted to spend your lunch break setting up for your next lesson, but it’s imperative that you get to know your colleagues, too. So don’t be a stranger to the staffroom. And the same goes for spending time with your friends and family. Make sure that you plan and take time to be you.
Sarah Wright is a senior lecturer at Edge Hill University in Lancashire. She tweets as @Sarah__wright1. You can read new instalments of her NQT boot camp every Wednesday and Friday during the summer holidays
For more advice on how to prepare for your NQT year, visit our dedicated New Teachers site, where you can find videos, hints, tips and job listings.