Time management is difficult. Even under the most positive of conditions, being able to get everything you want to get done within a day is tough. Research suggests that online teaching involves even more work and is even more time-consuming. This is the stark reality of remote teaching.
For example, in this research paper, 64% of teachers said that teaching online takes considerably more effort. Research suggests that online teaching demands more time both because it takes longer to develop online lessons and courses, and because there is more of a need for reaching out, answering questions of and keeping in contact with individual students, all of which is easier to do face to face.
1st week #distancelearning done.— Jim Bentley (he/him) (@Curiosity_Films) August 8, 2020
1. Everything takes 3x longer.
2. Tech is not a silver bullet.
3. 1:5 = instructional min. : min. prep
4. Kids are more polite than adults w/tech snafus.
5. Use two screens.
6. Expect the unexpected.
7. Swear in your head.
So, if as a teacher you are daunted by the thought of the excessive workload involved in returning to online teaching, you’re not alone. So, we’ve come up with some handy tips to help you adjust your workflow and time management this term.
AVOID THE PLANNING FALLACY
Everything takes several times longer to teach online. So, to avoid falling victim to the Planning Fallacy, make sure you leave more time than you think you need, for both planning and delivering lessons. Technology doesn’t always work the way we want it to, so leaving extra time gives you a chance to deal with these kinds of setbacks. In addition to this, having a timetable with all of your arrangements can help you to stay on top of things, rather than drowning in tasks and always playing catch up.
The time demands of online teaching make it easier for your professional and personal life to blur into one. To avoid getting glued to your computer and being unable to disconnect from work, be sure to set some boundaries.
Have regular hours in which students can contact you, but don’t let yourself be lured into responding to messages after hours. Ensure students know you are readily available during school time, but not after that. That is your time and you need it. These boundaries might also include having a set lunch and break time routine where everyone, students included, gets a chance to step away from the screen.
Whether it’s true or not that our concentration spans are shorter these days, we certainly can’t focus for hours on end. Particularly when working online, it can be harder to stay engaged for long periods of time. With online lessons, both you and your students could end up experiencing a little Zoom fatigue. Being efficient with lesson time might prevent having to re-teach students because their minds have wandered elsewhere in the last few minutes. For example, Jim Bentley, the teacher whose tweet we mentioned earlier, recommends a 10-minute break for every 50 minutes of teaching.
Of course, efficiency also applies outside of lesson time, to your own planning. Try to create an effective file system to organise and manage all those lesson plans and resources. This will stop you from wasting precious time trying to locate certain documents when you need them again later on.
SAVE AND REUSE
An effective filing system will also help you to find shortcuts in your teacher planning and ultimately, save time. It will mean you can re-use or adapt lesson content, worksheets and other resources for future online teaching, reducing a huge amount of workload. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many teachers fail to implement this trick.
While we’re on the topic of resources, Bentley recommends a variety of interesting ideas you can use, rather than resorting to textbooks which are even less likely to hold students’ interest online.
8. 50:10 instructional minutes to brain breaks— Jim Bentley (he/him) (@Curiosity_Films) August 8, 2020
9. Big publishers textbooks were crap in person and mega-crap online.
10. @edpuzzle rules.
11. @Newsela rules.
12. @listenwiselearn rules.
13. @nearpod rules.
14. Google Classroom rules.
15. @pbsteachers rules.
16. Drink water.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Although this is not the first time schools have been swung into online learning, it’s still a new and unusual experience for everyone involved. So, don’t expect everything to run perfectly smooth - there will be hiccups. All the more reason to plan ahead (including for potential obstacles), leave plenty of time to get things done, and use time and resources wisely. This will help you to overcome any unexpected hurdles.
Finally, be sure to look after yourself. At the end of the working day, leave the screen, get outside (safely), and do something unrelated to school. Taking care of yourself and making time for downtime will ensure you get the rest you need to manage your workload efficiently when you return to work again tomorrow.
Ultimately, you can only do what you can. Be kind to yourself, to others and know that sometimes good enough is good enough.
Teaching online is typically a lot more demanding for teachers. But with the right kind of planning and organisation, it can hopefully be a bit more manageable. If you’re facing the online classroom once again, we hope these tips are helpful for managing your time a little better and making your workload a little lighter.
For more information about online teaching, have a read of our blog on how to work from home effectively as a teacher.