3 Ways to Prioritize and Protect Your Time as a Teacher

Keep a to-do list, give yourself permission to say no, and remind yourself that the grass isn’t always greener.

Courtesy of 
Shih Wei Wang / EyeEm / Getty Images
Courtesy of Shih Wei Wang / EyeEm / Getty Images

Feeling overwhelmed in the classroom can happen on a daily basis!  We are always trying to do our best to make things work, and that usually means trying to do everything. Here are three ways I’ve learned to protect my time as a teacher:

1. Create a to-do list

In my experience, I have found it helpful to prioritize my never-ending “to-do list” and keep a checklist at hand. This allows my to see what I have done and what is left at a glance. This makes it more manageable for me, even though that often means I have Post-it Notes all over my desk!

I have found that sharing my experience and asking colleagues for advice can be extremely rewarding. I recently attended a professional development event and met a new teacher who had been working for only two years. She was energetic and excited about her work but often felt defeated and overwhelmed with many obstacles she had faced. I encouraged her to always try to do her best and to stay focused on her goal. For her, the goal was to bring technology and computer science to struggling students as a way to motivate them. Of course, I shared my Donors Choose tips and tricks with her to help get materials that her underprivileged students really needed.

2. Allow yourself to say no

A practice or routine I try to stick to when managing my to-do list is to prioritize and, at times, just say “no.” It might be hard at first, but I recently started to evaluate multiple projects I was working on and realized that — for my own sake — I would need to decline or delegate at least one thing I was working on. Even with good intentions, too much isn’t always good! This decision proved to be the right one because the teacher I asked to help was more than happy to, and I was able to offer assistance when needed. 

3. Remind yourself that you are where you need to be

Some advice I would offer to a new teacher would be that the saying “the grass is not always greener” definitely holds true in teaching. Don’t waste time focusing on who has a better class or who has an easier position because it doesn’t hold true. An excellent teacher is someone who does their best to make their position or class the best! It comes from hard work and dedication…there is no shortcut. Also, keep in mind that each new year is a fresh start. Improve what you tried, keep what has worked, and move on from ideas or practices that proved ineffective…yes, it is okay to do that!  Most of all, stay open to new ideas and be ready to learn from your students. They can all teach of us something valuable!

Thrive Global is partnering with DonorsChoose, the leading platform for giving to public schools, on a new special section, How Teachers Thrive, to share the emotional and self-care resources teachers need to improve their well-being. If you want to help teachers create a more equitable playing field for all students, find a classroom project that inspires you on DonorsChoose.org, and enter the promo code THRIVE during checkout to have your donation DOUBLED during the month of August!

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