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As Special Education Interim Teachers (SEITs) we have to balance multiple cases, all with different issues and in different locations. You have to move from case to case, bring supplies and worksheets with you, and on top of that at the end of the day you still have a ton of paperwork to do. Time management for SEITs can sound like a joke, but it is possible to manage. So we’re going to go over my tips and tricks for saving time.
Most of the time, if I want to talk to a fellow SEIT, I have to wait till after 7 pm to find a time that works for both of us.
SEITs run around all day, sometimes without reliable cell service, and that’s the only time anyone is free to talk. It can be exhausting because it seems like we start so early and finish so late.
And it seems like we’re always behind. I know from experience that I’m always running late to turn in paperwork, reports, even my billing. That’s right, sometimes I’m even late turning in my billing!
Honestly, I’m so busy doing my job I forget to make sure I’m getting paid.
So, today we’re going to go over my tips and tricks on time management for SEITs and hopefully, make our lives a little bit easier and a little bit less hectic, so we can all, maybe get a little bit closer to being on top of things next month.
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Plan, Baby, Plan
The first thing we have to do is take the time to actually plan things out. I know it sounds counterintuitive.
You’re here because you have no time, and now I’m telling you in order to get more time, you have to spend time doing something that is not directly related to work.
Hear me out.
My planner has saved my life and made me so much more productive. Each week I sit down, I schedule all my sessions with my kids, doctors appointments, dance classes, meetings, and so on.
Then I see how much non-billable free time I have. That informs how much I put on my to-do list besides my essential things.
My planner, which is the Passion Planner, if anyone is interested (not an affiliate link, I just really love it), leaves space for me to make my to-do list with my weekly schedule and has separate columns for personal and work.
It allows me to prioritize my tasks and make sure those get done first, while also prompting me to think about long-term goals and what I want my life to look like in three months, a year, three years, a lifetime.
It keeps me focused and lets me see how much I can reasonably do in a week and makes me schedule when I’m going to do it.
With my planner by my side, I never overbook myself or set unreasonable expectations.
Seriously it’s worth the investment of time and money.
Make Your Commute Productive
Is everyone on you about some new book on autism or a new paper or article on ADHD? Or about how you have to watch this new revolutionary show about people with disabilities?
I love podcasts, and books, and TV Shows as much as the next girl, but the last thing I want to do in my free time is read about, listen to, or watch people dealing with the same things I work on all day.
Instead, if you’re a SEIT, you’re probably changing locations a million times a day anyway. You’re sort of in work mode then anyway, so go ahead and listen to that podcast or audio book while you drive that car. Read away or download that TV show onto your phone for your bus ride.
Obviously don’t read or watch TV while driving. Safety first.
For more information on how to Teach on the Go and stay sane, check out this blog post.
You can also bring your computer along to work on the odd report or catch up on emails during that awkward few minutes you have between cases or your lunch break.
It’s not huge amounts of time, but you’d be surprised how much you can get done in five minutes.
Obviously, though, prioritize your mental health first and take a break on your commute if you need it. It’s more important you be sharp for your sessions.
Split the Workload
Another great time management trick for SEITs is if you have another teacher on a case make sure everyone is pulling their own weight. If you are weak in some areas, ask for feedback and support.
I feel like I always have a never-ending rotation of reports to do, and since the SEIT I work with the most does not speak English as her first language, I normally write all of them.
I used to shoulder the burden of adding the goals, and editing them as well, and making sure I attended every single meeting, till it started to feel unbalanced.
We had a frank and mature conversation about making sure we split the administrative workload of our cases more evenly.
Now, since I write the reports, she is in charge of the goals and editing them. Additionally, if I need to miss a meeting for mental health reasons, she’s agreed to cover for me, since we both know the writing of the report takes more time.
Having that wiggle room, and not being completely alone when creating a report has really made my life so much easier.
It shouldn’t be that hard to coordinate, since you and the other SEITs on any case should be in regular contact for collaboration purposes.
Batch Everything You Can
This one I learned from the blogging community, and not from being a SEIT. It’s still crazy helpful though.
Batching is a technique from Deep Work by Cal Newport, an interesting read, but very skewed towards college-level educators.
It’s based on the idea that you should do similar tasks together, to get your brain into the right mindset and help you save time.
For example, I batch my annual reports. Each year I have to do a report on all my kids’ physical, emotional/social, and cognitive development, as well as their communication needs, adaptive skills, and behavioral concerns. I’d also provide background information and a summary of my recommendations.
I used to do one report for a kid and move on to the next and so on. It was a waste of time. I had to look up the markers to look for in each category all over again whenever I moved on to another kid.
Now I batch things, so I do the background information for case 1, then case 2, then case three, and so on. I repeat this with each category. The theory behind it is, it lets my brain get in the grove of writing background information, and writing all their background information at once while I’m in this state, which Newport calls a deep work state, allows me to go faster and ultimately saves me time.
I buy it.
So try looking for other areas of your professional and personal life where you can batch things to save time. I know a lot of people batch their meal prep or paperwork.
Make sure to follow me on Instagram and let me know what you’re batching, and how it’s going!
At the end of the day, you might not be able to get everything done that you need to, so decide what is most important. What absolutely has to get done today? Or what is going to have the worst consequence if left unfished?
Start with that and get it out of the way, and things will seem much less stressful.
Time management for SEITs might seem like an impossible thing to think about, but I assure you, it can be done.
You just have to be clever and figure out what works best for you. Ultimately the most important things you can do are to plan and prioritize. This reduces stress and makes sure you get the most important tasks done.
In all the craziness that is our jobs, it can also be difficult to prioritize taking care of yourself. Never favor being productive over this part of your health. Check out this blog post on Mental Health for SEITs and One on Ones.