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September 5, 2012

FAQ: How Much Time Does It Take To Be “Together?”

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So, the dirty little secret here is that organization does take SOME amount of time.

And yes, that is time that COULD be spent planning, grading, analyzing, family phone-calling, and more.

In fact, we know of a small percentage of people who actually procrastinate by planning (yours truly was guilty of such when writing The Together Teacher).

But, over and over, teachers tell me that the benefits of prioritizing in advance, making detailed weekly plans, and having clear places to capture new work make a huge difference in their level of efficiency—and their quality of life! But how much time does it REALLY take anyway?

Today’s question: How much time does it take to set up and maintain a Together Teacher organization system?

Today’s answer: I consulted one of our favorite Together Teachers, Drew, and he had some helpful insights. Thanks for sharing, Drew!

  • How long does a Weekly Round Up take you? I spend 30 – 45 minutes for my Weekly Round-Up each Friday. This time is always blocked off on my Weekly Worksheet as an appointment (with myself).

Drew Completing His Weekly-Round Up

  • Where and when do you conduct your Weekly Round Up? I try to discipline myself to do it at school so I can print my new Weekly Worksheet, Thought Catchers, Meeting Notes templates, and Comprehensive Calendar. I also file my used Meeting Notes in a filing cabinet at school. Occasionally, if it is a particularly busy Friday, I will put it off until Saturday morning, but I much prefer to do it Friday afternoon so I can maximize relaxation on the weekends.
  • When and how do you look at your Weekly Worksheet? As a classroom teacher, I always had my Together Teacher System open on my desk before and after school, during planning periods, lunch break, and all meetings. I used the Weekly Worksheet to keep track of tasks during my planning periods. It takes just seconds to glance at my “To Prep” column to choose a task, and just seconds to cross it off.  I didn’t use it much during the instructional day, but it was my lifeline for the “other half” of being a teacher: the planning and collaboration that happens outside the hours of classroom instructional time each day.

So, Drew spends about 45 minutes weekly and 15 minutes daily staying Together. This feels like a worthwhile time investment to me. Particularly when it results in better teaching and increased sanity! Drew sums it up well here,

“Before I started planning ahead, my personal life was riddled with a pressing sense that there was something I should be doing for work. Now that I plan ahead, I know what those tasks are and when I plan to accomplish them, so I can relax when it’s time to relax.”

Together Teacher Reflection Questions: How much time does being Together take you? Have you been able to lessen it over your teaching career?  Where and when do you like to do your organizing and planning?

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