Tip: Make a Plan to Save Time
A few of the best time-savers I use to keep teaching-related tasks manageable.
Note: This is a day late due to a power outage from a tree across the street getting hit by lightning yesterday! A little bit more excitement than we needed…
If you are anything like me, this summer went by far too fast, and you're honestly not sure that you're ready for the fall semester to start. But perhaps that's just me. In any case, now is the time when I like to think about setting up practices that will help me stay on track once the semester really gets hectic. I have found that once I’m in stay one step ahead mode, there’s no time to figure out a better way to do things: it’s all I can do to stay on top of each day’s work.
Structure each class. Particularly if you - like me - are still teaching some part of your courses online, having a set structure for the class can help students orient themselves. I use a slideshow template for each class so that I remember to plan time for individual work, breaks, sharing out responses, etc. Having this structure saves me time as I’m planning, and also helps keep each class session running smoothly. Because it’s a slideshow, anything that needs to be brought forward from week-to-week (wrapping up an activity that we didn’t quite finish) is a fairly quick process.
Re-think grading. Responding to student work, at least for me, takes up many hours a week. I would really prefer that those hours go towards providing substantive feedback to help students improve, rather than what I’ve heard others call ‘grade justification’ comments. Reduce Your Grading Workload outlines a three-step process that helps to streamline grading by using an adaptation of a specs grading approach.
Use audio feedback. In the same vein, consider using recorded, rather than typed feedback (or, use voice-to-text applications and provide both) when giving students feedback on their assignments. I can talk through feedback on an assignment much quicker than I can write it all out, especially if I’m having to ‘write’ it electronically via the LMS.
Record Microlectures. Not only are they better for student learning than long recordings, but shorter segments are more likely to be re-usable across courses and semesters, saving you time. Even better if you remember not to say things like “On Wednesday…” when you’re recording!
Finally, it might be helpful to think about setting aside time for specific non-teaching work, too. If I don’t do this deliberately, the grading and class prep work expands to fill all the available hours in a week.