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Time.
A teacher’s biggest foe…
There never seems to be enough of it, does there? That race against the clock starts as soon as the first bell rings.

It’s a sprint to cover your material for the day. The material that you know should take double the amount of time to cover, but you don’t have the time.In my district, we have suggested time frames for how long we should spend on each subject area every day.

Here’s our suggested breakdown:

Math whole group and small group: 90 minutes
Interventions: 30 minutes
Reading whole group, small group, and writing: 120 minutes
Phonics intervention: 30 minutes
Science: 40 minutes
Social studies: 30 minutes
Total: 340 minutes
The only problem…
Actual instructional time: 290 minutes
So, everyday, by default, I am running on negative time. By about 50 minutes everyday…
Every glance at the clock is a reminder that time is just ticking away.

So what’s a time pressed teacher to do? Hack her way back to sanity with some minute saving ideas, of course! LOL!

Hack #1- Assign your students numbers:

This is like one of those totally old school tips. I remember having an assigned number when I was in 4th grade. At the time, I didn’t really think anything of it. Now… I’m like WHOA! TIME saver!

So, at the beginning of every year, I assign a number to each of my students. In general, they are in alphabetical order, but as the year goes, and students leave and new ones come… my best laid plans of keeping kids in ABC order by last name never quite pans out.

In addition to assigning students numbers, I also number their books:

mailboxes, and backpack cubbies.
We use these numbers as our order to line up. It’s our number in the computer lab. If a student is number 16, they sit at computer 16. I’ve also used this with borrowed technology like lap-tops and I-pads. If I can, I try to give them their number device.
So how is this a WHOA! time saver?
-Lining up- no fighting on who’s there first, who is last, and where everyone else stands.
The kids ask each other their numbers and file in.
-ABC order for school pictures- in number order, folks.
Then I adjust the few who have numbers that do not correlate with their last names.
-Emergency head count situations- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lined up my kids from recess, done a head count, and realized I was missing one of my precious cuties. Since they’re in number order, I just count them off until I figure out which number (and student) is missing. Crisis adverted!
Lost textbooks- if we find a missing textbook, or we can’t find a textbook, students just ask about the number. Instead of having to dig through everyone’s desk to see who has a duplicate book, we can just look at the number and pass on the book to its rightful owner.
You could also have students put their number on their paper. Then, at the end of the day, have a student put the papers in number order. Now you can see who’s missing the assignment AND input their grade into your grade book sooo much faster.
I seriously can’t say enough good things about the student number hack!
Hack #2- Set up for the Next Day BEFORE you leave for the day. 
 

 

You’ve heard the saying, “You should leave your classroom set up at the end of the day like you are expecting a sub tomorrow. ” I’m gonna level with you on that one… I’m not that on-top of things, but a serious time saver for me is stacking up my teaching resources in order for the next day in my “launching” area. Don’t be fooled by the fancy name, it is just a low filing cabinet next to my desk.
Next to the stack, I keep a copy of my lesson plans. This way, I can just work my way through my stack and if I can’t remember what we were doing at a certain time in the day, the lesson plans are right there for me to reference. Happens more often then I like to remember and ALWAYS when admin walks in… #teachertruth
This is a HUGE time saver because I don’t lose precious instructional time digging through piles for my activities I had planned for the day. With the kids I have this year, even one second of “down time” sends them spinning. I gotta make sure I’m ready to move!
Hack #3-Weekly Planning Storage
 
Ok… as teachers we love to have everything planned out… even if we aren’t planners ourselves, there is just something about the idea of planning that makes us happy. LOL!
With that in mind, this next hack is to help keep you organized for those future plans! I like to stay planned a week out in advanced. The operative word here is like to…it doesn’t always happen (hello 2 and half year old!), but I strive for it every week.
So, to store my plans for the upcoming week, I use a weekly drawer system:
This is just one of those plastic drawer towers with pretty scrapbook paper taped inside. You can read about this easy-to-do project here.
This little system not only keeps me organized, but it saves me precious prep time! As I plan for the week ahead, I place the day’s activities in the drawer. Books, games, centers… if I need it during the day, it’s in there. Then, before I leave for the day, I open up the next day’s drawer and pull out all my supplies. No wasting time running around the room looking for copies of books or papers.
I’ve seen this same system using folders and folder boxes. Like this set up from Mrs. Lemons over at Step into Second Grade
You can read about that system here.
Hack #4- Organize your Manipulatives
 
 
One of the best ways for our kiddos to learn is to use manipulatives. We know that… but why aren’t more teachers using them? Because passing them out is a time consuming process that we just don’t have time for.
So to help speed up that process, I’ve organized my most used math manipulative, place value blocks, into ready to go student baggies.
Each baggy contains an assortment of place value blocks. Usually 1 flat (hundred) 12 rods (tens) and 20 or so ones.
Distributing our manipulatives is a breeze. Each student just gets one baggy. Now, if we could just save time by not building houses during the lesson… 😉
*Teacher Tip*- Every time you introduce a new manipulative to your student give them 5 minutes of free play time to explore. They’re going to do it anyway and now you’ve given them time! I always tell my kiddos: I’m giving you time to play now so we can work during our lesson. If students are caught playing with the manipulatives during the lesson, they lose the privilege of using them for the day. Instead, they have to draw out the blocks.  Most kids LOVE using them, so they avoid extra playing as much as possible.
Hack #5- Outsource whenever possible
 
As a teacher, we are expected to do a LOT in addition to teaching. Paperwork, meetings, planning, data. Actual teaching is like the smallest least time consuming thing we do! 😉
With so much for a teacher to do, it’s best to outsource the small jobs! Lucky for us, we have a whole class of willing helpers!
(This is my class last year showing me the area of the carpet..)
I can’t do everything, so to save time (and my sanity) I let my kiddos pick up the slack. They help my class run smoothly by helping with those day to day chores. Some time savers tasks that  my
kiddos do:
-Sharpen pencils
-Put graded work in mailboxes
-Turn on and off the computers
-Clean up the classroom library
-Dismiss students from carpet to their seats
-Erase the board
To me, this is a win-win. I get back a couple of minutes and students take ownership of the classroom.
One of the most coveted jobs in the Applicious kingdom is helping me dismiss students from the carpet to their seats. How is this little act a time saver? Allowing a student to dismiss kiddos frees me up to turn on my overhead projector, or grab my materials for the next activity without having my kiddos sit and wait for me at their seats. That “wait” time is an opportunity for off task behavior. This year, once we’re off task, it is like 5 minutes of trying to refocus. We just struggle, so instead, I nip it before it begins with this little trick.
Hack #6- Label it! 
 
I’m a HUGE fan of labels. Everything in organized bins is my happy place…
Ahhhh….Let’s all take a moment and enjoy this organization bliss!
 But seriously, this little OCD behavior of mine saves sooo much time! Instead of me having to go pull things (like glue sticks) for students, they can grab the supplies for themselves by reading the label. I’m not sure how kids go through so many glue sticks, but my one guarantee in life is that if we’re in a rush to finish a project, I have at least 2 kids with dried up glue sticks. When that happens, the kiddos just throw away the old stick and grab new ones.
I also label my cabinets. Party stuff, construction paper, craft and office supplies: so much quicker to grab when I can just reach into the cabinet that’s labeled with what’s inside! Oh- and subs appreciate that too!
Hack #7- Automatic Tabs
 
This is one of those things that is so simple, so genius, you wonder why you EVER had it any other way!
Every morning, I turn on my laptop at school. Then, I would waste valuable morning planning time opening up all the websites I use through out the day.  Such a boring and mundane task, but I knew it would save me time in the end. Remember: my kids can’t handle anything more than 1 minute of down time.

Then, some how I figured out this AWESOME trick! If you use Google Chrome at school, you’ll love this! You can set up tabs to open automatically every time you open the internet. No more typing address or clicking into things. You just open up your browser and BOOM! It is already there.

So here’s how to set it up!

 

 

This has seriously brought sanity and time back to my mornings! We are required to take attendance through an online program. The problem is, to access the program, I had to go through a bunch of steps using my county’s website.

Now I have the page the link is located on as one of my automatic tabs. When I am ready to take attendance, I just click that tab, update, and submit.

We also use GoNoodle and ClassDojo through out the day, so those are set to come up too. Now, when we’re ready for a brainbreak, I don’t have to waste time finding and loading the page, we just choose our activity and go!

So, those are just a few time saving tips for teachers. The struggle for time will always be there. But, maybe with these little tips, we can turn time from a foe to a friend.

Got more time saving tips? Share them below!

7 Time Saving Hacks for Teachers- Her last one? Genius!

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8 Responses

  1. I always have an "Orphan Box" for those pencils, crayons, scissors, etc. that end up on the floor. Instead of wasting time trying to figure out who dropped it, when a child finds it missing, he or she knows where to look. Bonus: the classroom is neater because all those little things have a spot off the floor.

  2. Check out Symbaloo. It’s similar to your Automatic Tabs idea but is a website with direct links to frequently used sites. I teach at a school where every student has their own laptop. We use educational websites frequently. I have my Symbaloo page set as the homepage on each student’s computer. Then when they need to go to a website I can just say “Go to IXL” (or whatever site). You can create different tabs within your page so I have a Student tab and a Teacher tab. The Student tab has sites the students use and the Teacher tab has sites I use, like BrainPop and Discovery Education. It saves a lot of time and I can access my site from ANY computer by logging in to my account.

  3. This was so enjoyable to read! I just loved every piece of advance! How I wish I would have someone to show me these simple things when I started out. Thanks so much!

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Hi, I'm Leigh.

The Applicious Teacher is all about creating hands-on and engaging lessons that align with the standards while still having time for your life. This is your place for ideas, tips, and resources for the REAL teacher!

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