5 Time-Saving Tips for Busy Prep Teachers

5 Time-Saving Tips for Busy Prep Teachers

I ran into an acquaintance the other day who also happens to be a Prep teacher. She asked me, “Are you doing lots of work at home?”

I shook my head. “No”.

She pressed me. “Well, what about your holidays? Were they full on with school work?” 

Again, I shook my head. I began to feel guilty because I saw the look of shock on her face.

But here is the truth: I haven’t done any school work at home for a long time. 

Let me preface this post with some important things you need to know upfront:

  •  I’ve been teaching Prep for a while so I recognise that I am in a fortunate position of feeling like I know what I’m doing. If I was moved to a different year level, I’m sure I’d probably need to do some work at home, at least in the beginning.
  • I’ve been working with my team for three years now. When it comes to planning, we divide and conquer. We work really well as a team. 
  • I get to work quite early (around 7:30) and work through all my recess and lunch breaks. I don’t recommend this as I believe teachers need their breaks, but I choose to do so because I don’t like to take work home with me. (I'm still getting a break from the face-to face teaching so it still feels like a break!) 

Now that’s said, let me dive into some time-saving tips to help you reclaim your nights and weekends.

Tip 1: Prioritise your to-do list

There’s some things as a teacher that absolutely must get done. The types of tasks that if you don’t get done, you will get into trouble. 

Things like weekly planning, report writing, attending PSG meetings. These things need to be high on your priority list. 

Changing a bulletin board in your classroom? That’s not urgent. 

Look at your to-do list and highlight the things that are absolute musts. Focus your energy there. 

If you have extra time up your sleeve, great! Change the bulletin board then. Change over the books in the reading corner then. Sharpen the pencils then. 

But until you have that extra time, focus your time on the tasks that really matter. 

And don’t stay back late for those non-urgent tasks. Honestly, the kids won’t care that you haven’t changed the bulletin board. I promise you. 

Tip 2: Get students involved in the preparation

Look around - you have 25 gorgeous little helpers who want nothing more than to help you! 

But they’re not mind-readers. If you need help doing something, articulate what you need done and get your students to help. 

For example, I like to end the day by putting the next morning’s activities on the tables. It makes the morning a lot less stressful knowing everything is set out. 

I used to stay after school to do this. 

Now? I get the students to help me. 

Choose a couple of students, show them what to set out on the tables (e.g. whiteboard, markers, worksheets etc), then have them do it. Read a book to the rest of the class while your helpers are working. 

Tip 3: Choose activities that are easy to prep

When choosing activities for my Preppies, I definitely take into account how long it will take to prep. 

If there’s an activity that requires a lot of pre-cutting of awkward shapes, I do consider whether it’s worth it. 

I love activities that you can quickly chop with a guillotine. Slice, slice, slice, slide, you’re done!

Tip 4: Bookmark tabs on your Smartboard

If there’s resources or websites that you use all the time, bookmark them so they’re always at the top of your Smartboard. 

Some tabs that I have bookmarked are: my weekly planners, pack up music, the roll, calm classroom music, even ABC Kids! 

When I come in in the morning, I turn on my Smartboard and open the tabs.

You can even be super clever and set it up so that you can open all the tabs with a single click of the button!

Tip 5: Use templates

Don’t re-invent the wheel every week when you sit down for planning!

It’s OK to repeat activities - just change the content. 

For example, each week in reading, our students do a decodable sentence cut and paste. 

Guess what that means? We can use a ready-made template and just swap out the sentence each week. 

Not only does this make planning super quick, the kids love it because they know what to do. 

The same goes with maths activities. It’s OK to repeat activities! Just change the content. 

These are just five ways to save time. There's probably a thousand more.

What are your best time-saving tips? Let me know!

Want to help your child with reading but unsure where to start?

Supporting Little Readers was made for you! This pack has everything you need to support your little one with reading.