Maximizing your planning time can help reduce your stress and prevent burnout. But how do you make it happen?
As a special education teacher, you have a lot of responsibilities and not much time to plan. But with some creative strategies and the right tools, you can make the most of your planning time. Here are a few tips to help you maximize your planning time.
Making the Most of Your Planning Time
Create Templates for Recurring Tasks
Creating templates can be an effective way to save time when it comes to preparing lesson plans or individualized education programs (IEPs). Templates allow you to quickly fill in the blanks for each student’s needs by reusing material that has already been created. Goal banks work great for this! The one at The Intentional IEP has over 13,000 pre-written goals that can save you a ton of time!
Technology can be used in a variety of ways to streamline processes and automate mundane tasks such as tracking student performance, attendance, and progress. There are numerous tools available to help you save time and make the most of your planning hours.
Staying organized is key when it comes to time management. Take some time each day or week to sort through documents, emails, notes, etc., so they don’t pile up. Investing in a planner or calendar can also be a great way to keep track of tasks that need to be completed and deadlines that need to be met.
Try breaking down long-term tasks into smaller parts so you can focus on one task at a time instead of getting overwhelmed by the entire project. Make sure you prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency.
Collaborating with your colleagues can help you maximize your time and resources. For example, if you have a student with similar needs as another teacher, consider teaming up to create resources that can be used for both students.
Don’t Get Caught Up in Conversations
It can be easy to get sidetracked when chatting with colleagues or students. When your planning time is limited, it’s important to stay focused and avoid engaging in unnecessary conversations that do not contribute to task completion.
Use the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule states that approximately 80% of results come from 20% of efforts. Prioritize tasks according to their impact and importance and focus your energy on activities that make the most difference in student outcomes.
Break Down Long-term Tasks
Breaking down large projects into smaller, more manageable pieces can help you save time and be more efficient when it comes to planning for a student’s needs. For example, rather than trying to tackle an entire IEP at once, divide it into sections such as goals, objectives, services needed, etc., so that each part can be accomplished separately and more quickly. The IEP Toolkit can help with that!
Keeping lines of communication open between yourself, parents, and other staff members is important for developing successful plans for students’ needs. However, this doesn’t mean you need to spend hours on the phone or sending emails back and forth. Even using communication stickers can free up time during your planning session!
Take Short Breaks
Taking regular breaks throughout your planning time can help refresh your mind so that you can remain productive while also avoiding burnout caused by prolonged periods of intense focus on one task at a time. Short breaks such as walking around the classroom or having a cup of coffee can help reignite your energy levels so you can continue working effectively without sacrificing quality of work due to fatigue or boredom.
Stay Out of School Drama
While it can be tempting to get involved in the latest gossip or debates, try to stay out of it as much as possible. Not only does getting involved in school drama take away from your planning time, but it can also create additional stress and cause tension amongst colleagues. Focus on the task at hand and avoid conversations that do not contribute to your goal.
Utilize Peer Feedback
Inviting others to review your work can help save time by providing helpful insights from different perspectives. Ask trusted colleagues for feedback on lesson plans or IEPs before submitting them, as it could help you catch any errors or omissions quickly and easily.
Schedule Dedicated Planning Time
Dedicating specific times during the week or day solely for planning is an effective way to ensure that you are making the most of your time without having other duties or tasks distracting you from completing important tasks like IEPs or lesson plans effectively and efficiently.
By following these tips, you can make the most of your planning time and become more productive as a special education teacher. With some creativity and organization, it’s possible to develop effective strategies for staying on top of your workload and meeting all of your goals! Good luck!