Time Saving Suggestions for Student Teachers
The following is reprinted with permission from Hennick (1999). Minor amendments have been made to the text to conform with ATA style.
- Beg, borrow and steal. Beg, borrow and steal—it isn’t necessary to reinvent the wheel. Learning from each other is part of good teaching.
- Spend time to save time. Take the time as the school year starts to put classroom management in place.
- Get organized. Set up file folders, labeled or color-coded to reduce and/or organize the clutter.
- Prevent behaviour issues. Planning, teaching and enforcing a classroom management plan—rules, routines, procedures, consequences and incentives are important for consistency. Be proactive rather than reactive. Above all, be consistent. Bosch (2006) reminds teachers that a management plan is needed to prevent student misbehaviour.
- Use your minutes. Time used in school is less time spent on schoolwork at home.
- Delegate. Your students can become the best of helpers.
- Learn to say no. Practice saying that you can’t take on any more responsibilities because this is your first year of teaching.
- Avoid perfection. Keep to your tasks and remember the KISS principle: Keep It Short and Simple.
- Parent communication. Streamline parent or guardian communication. Copy some simple forms to us or have forms with fill-in the blanks that are ready at all times and for all things.
- Grade smarter. Grade certain papers and allow others to remain ungraded. For practice, use rubrics and self-grading forms when appropriate.
- Get a life. You need to use time savers as they are critical to getting the job done in a timely way. There is a life outside the classroom. Be good to yourself so that you can be great with your students!
Hennick, C. 1999. “11 Magic Tricks for New Teachers.” Instructor 117, no 1: 36–40.
Extra time-saving tips:
- Beg, borrow but don’t steal from your cooperating teacher. Simply ensure that you also contribute to the collective knowledge bank with your own ideas, strategies and your own lesson plans within the unit plan(s) you will develop. (Do not rely solely on generic lesson plans found online. Modify to suit your context.)
- Take time to observe your cooperating teacher and ensure that your classroom management approach complements your cooperating teacher’s management practices. You may not agree with your cooperating teacher’s management practices; however, this is not the time to overhaul the plan in place and implement your own—you can do that when you have your own classroom.
- Use electronic folders or colour-coded paper file folders to reduce and/or organize the clutter. The more organized and prepared you are, the more confident you will feel in lesson delivery.
- Use your minutes judiciously.
- Parents are also a great asset, and do not forget your teaching assistants. Plan for this key individual.
- Learn to say no when appropriate at school or within your personal life as this is a critical time in your teaching journey. However, there are times when no is not an option (yes, you do need to return all of the tests marked prior to the end of your field experience).
- Keep to your assigned tasks and responsibilities.
- Remember that all communication with parents is the responsibility of your cooperating teacher. Always refer to him or her. If you do write in agendas or include an article in the class newsletter, ensure that it is grammatically correct, error free and the message has been approved by your cooperating teacher.
- Assess strategically. Not all assignments need to be graded/marked. There is a place for formative assessments and summative assessments. Check with your cooperating teacher. Note that marking cannot be delegated to any another individual (not a parent, a teaching assistant or your mother!).
- Self-care is key! Time-savers will help you to successfully complete your field experience.