8 habits to help teachers save time and be more efficient - classroom management ideas, routines, rubrics, and more

8 Teacher Habits To Save You Time and Increase Efficiency

Being intentional about your habits as a teacher will help you be more effective and more efficient in your upper elementary classroom.
Teaching is overwhelming.  There is always more to do, and never enough time to do it.  Teachers that invest a little time up front can end up saving time and energy later, while also being more effective.  Check out these 8 teacher habits that can save you time and energy by making you more efficient and effective!

1. Always Have Some Reusable Resources Ready

Having some quality, ready-to-use activities that can be easily adapted can be a lifesaver for those weeks that you just don't have time to plan as well as you would like.

I always had several class sets of reusable activities on hand, and they came in handy more than once.  Check out my favorite no prep, reusable activities here - and download them for free! 

Or, download my popular reusable emergency sub plans for free below!

These free sub plans can be used repeatedly in case of an emergency or sick day

    2. Take Time to Reflect and Goal Set

    Intentional reflection is often overlooked - usually because teachers have so many other things to do with their day! However, taking the time to reflect on things that are going well and things that are not going well can help you adjust plans and set new goals.  Otherwise, you'll just keep doing the same things over and over again - even if they are not working or if they are adding stress to your life!

    Reflection helps you get to the root of problems and stressors, allowing you to come up with solutions that make your life easier.

    This teacher reflection and goal setting resource is designed to help you reflect on what classroom stressors and frustrations could be eliminated.  Then, it helps you come up with realistic, actionable goals based on your reflections.

    In order to become an effective and efficient teacher, you have to invest a little time thinking about what is working and what isn't working in your classroom.

    3. Let Students Help

    3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students LOVE to help out their teacher.  Take advantage of this, and put them to work!  Let your students do tasks that take up your time - things like cutting, sharpening pencils, cleaning up, etc.

    Sometimes creating and assigning classroom jobs can seem like more trouble than its worth.  However, there are systems you can put in place to make your life easier, not harder.

    This is the classroom job system I used in my 3rd grade class.  It required students to fill out a classroom job application.  I would assign jobs, and then students would keep those same jobs for at least 9 weeks.  They got REALLY good at their jobs and saved me so much time and stress!  Read more about this classroom job system, and download a free classroom job application here.

    Or, check out these classroom job ideas!

    Sometimes I recommend products using affiliate links.  If you click through and buy, I may be compensated at no cost to you.  Check out my disclosure policy here. 

    4. Take Advantage of Audio Books and Podcasts

    If you are like most teachers, then you wish you had more time to read.  Audio books are an easy way to get more book time in.  Use all that time you spend commuting to listen to audio books!

    Whether you like to read for pleasure or for information, audio books and podcasts are a great way to help you spend all that time in the car wisely.

    If there is a book you've been wanting to read, then you will probably be able to listen to it through Audible.

    Audible is a subscription service.  When you sign up, you get credits every month that you can use towards books that you want to listen to.  Unused credits can be saved for up to a year.  Sign up for a free trial here.

    Podcasts are also a great free option.  You can find topics to listen to on almost any topic.  You can listen to sermons, to news updates, to teaching advice, to crime podcasts, to comedians, etc.  Download a podcasting app to your phone and do a search of a topic that interests you.

    The simplest way to listen is using a podcast app or the Audible app on your phone.  If you have Bluetooth in your car, then listening to a podcast or an audio book is really easy.  Simply connect your Smartphone to your car via Bluetooth and listen to what you want.

    If you don't have Bluetooth, then you can try connecting your phone to your car with a cable.  This will vary based on the type of car you drive and the type of phone you have.

    This teacher habit is an easy one to sustain once you get started, and it's totally worth a little effort up front.

    5. Set Up Classroom Routines for Students

    This is well known, but worth mentioning because it is so important.  Taking the time to establish and practice routines with students saves you class time and stress.  When your 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students know what they are supposed to do, then your time is freed up to do other things.

    Check out these helpful tips for:

    6. Set Up Routines for Yourself

    Teachers know the importance of thinking through and setting up routines for our students, but often we don't set them up for ourselves.  Being intentional about this teacher habit -  creating a morning routine and a routine for before leaving the classroom can help you create habits that make your day easier and free up head space for all your other tasks.

    Read more about how teachers can benefit from setting up morning routines and "before-I-leave-school routines."

    7. Don't Grade Everything - And Use Rubrics When Possible

    Not everything needs a grade - some things are just much needed practice.  If you set out to grade every single activity your students do in class, you will never have time to do anything else.

    Also, using rubrics can save you some grading time.  Instead of grading every single assignment, you can batch grade with a holistic rubric.  Assess student's overall work for a collection of activities instead of nitpicking every question.

    Read more about how best to utilize rubrics in your classroom, as well as find free rubric maker recommendations. 

    8. Schedule in Time to Relax - The Most Important Teacher Habit!

    Teachers are often told by non-teachers that they have plenty of vacation time.  With summers off and breaks during the school year, the world thinks teachers have plenty of time off.

    This perception sometimes makes teachers feel that they should be working nonstop during the school year.  There is always more to do -  there is always another positive phone call to make, or a better way to differentiate a lesson, or another copy to make.

    Working nonstop is simply unsustainable.  If you find yourself always thinking about your classroom, then consider scheduling in time every week to stop and take a break from all things school related.  Take the time to actually write it in your calendar.  Be intentional about giving your mind a break.

    Never Stress Over Sub Plans Again!


    Make copies, find a fiction book, and you'll be ready for any emergency that comes your way!

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