Ways Teachers Manage Time with Students

Part of being an organized teacher is being organized in managing your time. But what are the best ways to do that? This post shows you how! My friend Kelly of The Simply Organized Teacher shares some practical ways you can manage your time more effectively with your students. 


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I am a huge proponent of organized classrooms. Organized classrooms lead to a clearer headspace for teachers and less visual stimulation (umm… distraction!) for our kiddos. 

Part of being an organized teacher is being organized in managing your time. In this post I am going to share some practical ways you can manage your time more effectively with your students. 

First, I should probably introduce myself though, shouldn’t I?!?

I am Kelly! Classroom Organization and Management Coach over at The Simply Organized Teacher. Most of my free time is spent piddling around my house organizing or cleaning something out- I love it! And I love doing it in classrooms well. I write about best practices for organizing and managing your classroom well.

What is an Organized Classroom

As teachers, we tend to get sidetracked in our efforts to create an organized classroom. Pinterest and Instagram tell us that an organized classroom is “cute” and “pretty” and decorated with oodles of money.

But I believe that classroom organization is way more than just a pretty classroom.

Text overlay: "Classroom organization is more than just a pretty classroom that is Instagram or Pinterest worthy. It is your flow, routines, and management all seamlessly blended together."

When teachers are getting ready for a school year, they are quick to jump to the decorating and laying out of a classroom but there are so many other things that go into creating an organized classroom.

Inside my course, The Organized Teacher Framework™, I teach about the four components of an organized classroom.

I lay them out like a cake because they all build on each other, as you can see in the graphic below.

Graphic of a cake sitting on a plate. Blue arrows point to each layer of the cake. Cake base- Time Management and Self Care. Tier 1- Classroom Management Tier 2- Classroom Organization. Candle on top- Decorating

You’ll notice that first up is time management and self care. That’s because that is also the first thing to be neglected once the school year starts!

Next up is classroom management, which is where we’ll spend our time today.

Classroom management is crucial to have an organized classroom.

If your students don’t understand the boundaries, routines, and consequences in your classroom, then you will have a rowdy bunch of kids on your hands!

Then comes the organizing part! (And in my opinion, the most fun part!)

As I said, in this post, we will focus on classroom management, specifically how to manage time with your kids and keep them on track with your plans. But know that organization is my love language and my favorite “piece of the cake!”

5 Ways to Manage Time with Your Students

One of my biggest struggles in my first two years of teaching, was constantly running over on time.

I’d tell my students they had 20 minutes to work on an activity and 40 minutes later, they’d still be working on it.

My kids started to take note of this and knew that I didn’t hold them accountable to the time limit I set.

Then, in my 3rd year of teaching, I moved into a different grade level where I shared students with another teacher. I no longer had the freedom to go over on one lesson knowing that I could make up for it somewhere else in the day.

Once I got into this new classroom setting, I really had to figure out some concrete ways to keep my students on track and today I want to share some of those tips with you!

1. Use a Timer

Timers are SO helpful!

I set timers for specials, lunch, recess, math time, guided reading time. All the times.

5 Mindset shifts to help teachers manage time more efficiently. Time Management tips and hacks!

A timer is also a great tool to use in transitions. If you notice your students are sluggish to move onto the next activity, try timing them. If they beat the time you set, then they can earn some kind of reward (like a marble in the marble jar).

2. Be Flexible with Your Plans

I have always struggled with planning way too much for a lesson cause I always feel like “next week WILL be the week that we can get all of our stuff done in a reasonable time” and every week I fail.

So I readjust. I shift things around, delete things that maybe are not that critical. Be flexible! You’re a teacher…You know how to do that!

(And write your lesson plans in pencil!)

5 Mindset shifts to help teachers manage time more efficiently. Time Management tips and hacks!

3. Plan for “Catch Up Fridays”

One of my favorite strategies for keeping my students on track, I learned way too late in my teaching career!

But that is to intentionally leave my plans blank on Friday. Friday is then available for any make up work that didn’t get done throughout the week.

5 Mindset shifts to help teachers manage time more efficiently. Time Management tips and hacks!

Inevitably, you will have a fire drill, assembly, or some other thing that comes up last minute that causes you to miss out on a lesson with your kids. This free Friday tip, gives you the space to make up for that during the school week without tossing out other plans you created.

4. Avoid Using Recess as a Time to Make-Up Work

I am not a fan of taking away recess, although I have done it during my time as a teacher.

But, here were some guidelines I had in place to ensure that using a student’s recess to make up work was truly the best possible solution:

  • Does this child have any different learning abilities that prevents them from completing the work in the expected time frame?
  • Is this child dealing with any personal struggles that is causing them to not finish work on time?
  • Has this child had ample opportunity to make up this work in other parts of the school day?

Once I answer those questions, then I can decide if using recess is acceptable.

More often than not, though, I would have students do their make up work during centers or morning work. The motivation to get their work done so they could do those more “fun” activities was usually enough!

5. Use a Missing Work Chart

Part of the problem of students not getting their work done on time is simply because they don’t know they are behind!

That’s why I love the Missing Work Chart. It is super easy to create and use year after year.

A close up of a missing work chart.

When grading papers, if a student is missing an assignment (or it needs to be corrected) I just write the assignment on a sticky note and put it on their number on the chart.

Then, a student is easily able to see what they are missing and need to work on during their free time.

Time Management for Teachers

Anytime I talk to a teacher, their number one problem is always time. It is something we all struggle with and it feels even more stressful for teachers because of the never ending responsibilities being placed on our plates at all times.

If you are looking for more tips on managing your time as a teacher, then check out my free Productivity Tips for Teachers Download!

Screen shot of resource. Text overlay: "10 Productivity Tips for Teachers. Time Management Tips Ebook."

More Ways to Manage Your Teacher Time

As you continue to grow in your time management and organization skills, these additional posts and resources will help you grow even more:

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