I love this new trend of putting reading times on top of articles, so you know up front if you have the time to commit to it or not. On a fundamental level, when we save time we are also in fact creating time, creating spaces for more experiences, learning — or in most teachers’ cases — a well-deserved nap!
So without wasting any more of your precious time, let’s delve into 38 of my top time saving tips!
7 Edtech tools
K-12 Reader - Hundreds of pre-prepped and most importantly CCS-aligned lesson plan printables ready-to-go.
EdShelf - Collection of apps other teachers are finding useful - socially curated usefulness.
PiktoChart - At $40 p/year for the PRO version, and loads of free services, this is an affordable way to get your graphics done beautifully and quickly.
TeachersPayTeachers: A well-stocked collection of submissions from actual teachers - everything from lesson plans and printables to infographics and special activities.
Pocket: Aggregate and save your news and content, as well as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts on-the-go using this free smartphone app.
InsertLearning: Ever wish you could turn an interesting web page into a lesson plan? Wish no longer, this powerful tool enables teachers to format the content, insert comments and questions, and personalize per student.
Easy PDF: An all-in-one online tool that offers all types of PDF conversion to other formats and vice-versa. OCR conversion of scanned images is supported as well. Using this tool will make your PDF management easy.
5 Edtech apps
Remind101 - Free sign-up for class-wide instant text and reminders.
SimpleK12 - Online PD webinars, much of it free. Clock your credit hours anywhere, anytime.
SmartSeat - A quick and paperless way to manage desk allocation, attendance and behavior.
Desmos - Simply the best way to create beautiful math charts and calculations. And free!
WordArt - Who doesn’t love a word cloud? Now simpler, and quicker than ever.
5 Office hacks
ScreenCasting in PowerPoint - Turn a simple PowerPoint into a voiced-over video by simply searching for the record option in the tools.
Scale to Fit: Instead of trying to create a worksheet that fits on A4, simply work on your spreadsheet, then scale to fit at the printing stage.
Paste as Text: Office is riddled with a variety of formats - and nowhere is this more annoying than when copying and pasting content from one place to another. The best way to keep things clean is to past as text, and even change your paste setting to default to text.
OfficeLens: Invaluable for PD lectures and workshop, office lens is a mobile app that lets you take camera images of whiteboard, PowerPoint or flip-chart presentations, clean them up and use them as notes.
Sway: Taking presentations to a whole new level is the somewhat unknown Office app Sway - adding luscious, cinematic effects to any presentation.
3 Email hacks
TL:DR (Too Long: Didn’t Read) as a writer I really have to guard against wordy emails - and have disciplined myself to firstly put a quick TL:DR descriptor at the top - then using bullet points and numbers to keep the communication focused and save myself time.
Flags and categories in your inbox, while a bit tricky to get going, will help you manage tasks, appointments and categories of email quickly and at-a-glance.
Use email templates: If you need to send the same email over and over there’s a hack for that using macros and templates.
4 Keyboard shortcuts
CTRL+F: Ever wondered how I trawl through some of the academic papers I reference in this blog? This is my secret weapon - find anything on any page, in any program.
WIN+D: Go from a screen full of open windows to your desktop in one swift move.
WIN+F: Find any and all files and folders on your system.
CTRL+Z: A universal undo shortcut that will take you back to your last command in any program.
4 Computer/ Phone hacks
Dropbox Receipt Scan: Did you know that with Dropbox mobile you have a quick and easy way to scan receipts using your camera - quickest way to process and store receipts on the go.
Space Bar to Scroll: did you know that the space bar will scroll through a web page, on any browser, page-by-page?
CNTRL Zoom: To make a page or your screen instantly bigger for better reading, simply hold down CNTRL and then scroll with your mouse.
End a text sentence easily: You know that irritating thing you have to do to end a sentence in text: change keyboards, find the full stop/period, go back to keyboard, capitalize letter in beginning of next sentence, start sentence? Well if you hit the space bar twice (in any phone) it will end the sentence, and begin the next with a capital letter automatically!
7 Classroom management & planning hacks
1. Don’t do everything: There’s a lot of stuff students could be helping you with: tidying class, self-assessing smaller projects, creating or printing worksheets, redoing or tidying class displays etc.
2. Lesson planning: Never spend more time on a lesson plan than it will take your students to complete.
3. Give students numbers: At the beginning of the year assign students in alphabetical order a number. When handing in papers, or on field trips, have them use the their numbers. Saves time in roll call, and checking who has submitted assignments.
4. Sticky note warnings: Instead of breaking into teaching time with behavior reprimands, use large sticky notes. Each time a student acts out, quietly remove a sticky note. Once all the notes are gone, enforce a consequence, such as lost recess, detention or a note home. A quiet way of correcting student behavior without taking away valuable teaching time.
5. It doesn’t have to be pretty: Many teachers get sucked into the rabbit hole of making things perfect and attractive. If a worksheets has worked in previous years, use it as is.
6. Stay days: Commit to staying late just one day of the week, to catch up on grading and planning at school - no need to drag it all back home.
7. Just say “No”: My grandmother used to say, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person to do.” Unfortunately those of us who are managing to get organised and on top of our workload, are also targets for admin committees etc. Keep your boundaries in place.
3 Assessments hacks
Student Writing Rubrics: There are a great many ways to reduce this laborious time spent reading student writing.
Read more: What is the role of rubrics in performance-based education?
Grade in Class: Going through assignments either while students are doing other tasks, or with all the students is a huge time-saver.
Verbal feedback: Only collect it, if you are going to grade it - and don’t feel you have to grade everything.
Over to you
I hope you enjoy trying out some of these time saver tips, and I’d love to hear about your own tools and tricks in the comments — when you get a moment :)