Are You A Time-Wasting TEFL-er?

wasting3.jpgAre you a time-wasting teacher? Few will cop to that, but many of us are guilty. Maybe not guilty of copying our respective faces, but of wasting time. If you’re enjoying what you’re doing, and it takes you longer than others to do it, that’s not necessarily wasted time. But if you’re starting to feel burned out….it might be.

Alex Case of’s TEFLtastic provided his outline on his time management workshop for teachers, in response, I might add, to a TEFL Logue post on teacher burnout. In it he describes the common ways teachers waste time, such as cutting things up, making photocopies (or fixing the copy machine, anyone?) and pouring over books of supplementary material.

I am most guilty of spending too much time deciding exactly how to present, clarify and practice something in class. I guess it is not rocket science to notice that it is often quicker to just follow the book. The problem is, while well-written books tend to give a good foundation, they can’t always address the specific needs of your students. And so I invest time adapting the book. It’s my informal observation that picking out the bits and pieces I like, discarding those I don’t and then figuring out how to replace them is a lot more time consuming than attacking it with a plan (Where’s my context, guided discovery, clarification, restricted practice, freer practice? I’ve got it and I’m done).

I may run the risk of becoming predictable…to myself…but I think there is something to “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

There is always room for improvement, but once I’ve found a selection of activities, or adaptable activities that work well, you can bet your bottom dollar that I reuse them. Trying new things saves me from boredom, but I try to avoid the feeling that I should be constantly innovating. It may not be new to me, but it’s new to the students and it works well. There are inevitable changes to deal with, like a new book or syllabus or test, but when you find good activities, spend time figuring out how to adapt them rather than constantly looking for new ones.

Oh, and if you do think you’re a time-wasting teacher, check out some tips for better productivity.