I have HOW much time???!!??

We all know from experience how quickly our prep time can fly by. And how many unexpected interruptions can come up along the way, affecting our efficiency during that time. Our group will be focusing on how to use prep time most effectively, and how to save yourself from some of the frustrations along the way.

A typical Prep Time, for most of us, might look like this:

How can we prevent this tragic outcome?


Covey and the 4 Quadrants
  • Introduction to Covey and Priority Quadrants (10 minutes)
  • Brainstorming - How do you spend your prep time? Where are you in the quadrants (15 minutes)
  • Share out (10 minutes)

Avoid Time-Wasters
  • Identify the Time Wasters (10 minutes)
  • Setting Meeting Protocols (30 minutes)
  • Prioritize! (20 minutes)
  • Group Action Plan (30 minutes)

Break Out Session: What's on your plate?
  • Group Brainstorm

Detailed Agenda

Covey and the 4 Quadrants
In a 10 minute presentation, including a handout that depicts the 4 quadrants Covey describes, introduce the workshop to the concepts of understanding where our daily tasks fall in the spectrum of importance and priority. Relate the story from Covey of the executive who asks the employee to take on an additional task, and the employee is able to reasonably respond with a list of other "could you do this now" requests the executive had asked for, and say "I could, but it would mean I won't be able to do one of these, which should I skip?" How can we prioritize ourselves, and not accept things that are unimportant, or push things that are unimportant onto others?

Off the top of your head, come up with 5-10 things you did during a recent prep period. Be as specific as you can (ie, not "emails" but "emailed two parents about struggling students and how to catch them before they fail"). Now, identify which of the four quadrants each of these activities falls into. Are you being as effective as you could be?

Avoid Time-Wasters
What are your time-wasters? Disorganized meetings? Constant emails? Students asking what they missed last class? Together, we will brainstorm for about 10 minutes a list of all the time-wasters we can think of - the "Urgent and Unimportant" quadrant. Ideas will be written on the board for all to see.

Instruction in setting meeting protocols. Meetings are the biggest time wasters for many of us. We'll address techniques for setting protocols and keeping peers on task.


Often, teachers are sidetracked by students and staff wanting to have conversations. Sometimes these conversations are necessary, but the teacher needs to determine whether they are really worth taking the time. If not, it is important to be able to courteously say no. Interrupting someone is a key skill in conversation, particularly when you want to be respectful. There are a number of interruption techniques you can use to 'grab the baton', taking control of the conversation.

Action Plan
Working in a group of 2-3, make a list of those items that most frequently interrupt your prep time and take away from your schedule. Are they brought on by students? Other staff? Things you forgot you had to do? Brainstorm ways you can reduce these interruptions, or reduce the time they steal from you. With your group, come up with an action plan that would remove one or more of these interruptions from your day.

Prioritize! Should you just do it now? Should you add it to the to-do list? How do you decide?

To fill your bucket, first you put in the rocks. Is your bucket full? No, you can fit in some pebbles. Is your bucket full? No, you can fit in some sand. Is your bucket full? No, you can fit in some water. What is the moral of this tale? That you can always fit more in? No, if you don’t put the rocks in first, you’ll never get them in….

The most important tip is to recognise that the small stuff can get in the way of the big stuff. And when the small stuff does get in the way, ask yourself why is that? What can you stop doing or do less of to free up your time?

What's on your plate?
Come up with a list of what you typically try to tackle during your prep time. How many minutes do you have in your prep time? How many minutes do you spend on each of these activities? Create a schedule for your next prep period that gives priority activities more time at the beginning of your prep period, and places those activities that use time without serving an effective purpose for the end of your prep.




Committee Urged To Support Prep Time For Teachers
2007-2008 | At the Capitol | News & Publications | Wisconsin Education Association Council 5/16/10 3:32 PM
Committee Urged To Support Prep Time For Teachers
A bill that would make preparation time a mandatory subject of collective bargaining is necessary for teachers to be the most effective they can be in the classroom, two educators testified at a Senate hearing Tuesday (August 28, 2007).
Guy Costello
WEAC Vice President Guy Costello, a South Milwaukee teacher, and Bob Peterson, a Milwaukee 5th-grade teacher, spoke in favor of SENATE BILL 243, a 2007-08 WEAC Legislative Agenda item. The measure gives teachers an opportunity to negotiate for preparation time that is built into the scheduled workday by making it a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.
The lead Senate author is Senator Jon Erpenbach (D- Middleton) and the lead Assembly sponsor is Representative Terry Musser ( R-Black River Falls).
“As any of you who have educators in your family know, we do spend hours on school work at home and on weekends, but it is still not enough to prepare the lessons and materials needed in the academically diverse and challenging classroom of today,” Costello told the Senate Committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs. “To be effective and give children our best we also need time to meet with colleagues to discuss the best way to meet our students’ needs and to make plans for team teaching, especially with our special needs students.”
“I get to work well before students arrive and leave well after, but while they are there – about seven hours – I barely have a break and it’s not a healthy or sane way to run an educational institution,” said Peterson, who has been a teacher for 27 years.
Bob Peterson, a 5th grade teacher at La Escuela Fratney in Milwaukee, testifies Tuesday (August 28, 2007), in favor of a bill to make teacher preparation time a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.
“Besides a daily lunch break of 30 to 45 minutes – which is reduced if I have recess or lunch room duty or if it is raining outside and the kids stay in my classroom – I only get one 50-minute period of planning on each Tuesday if the art teacher is not sick or at an in-service,” he continued. “That 50 minutes is not only an insult to me as a professional, but more importantly means that tasks and planning that should take place during the school day don’t get done. It hurts our children, it hurts our school, and it hurts our state.”
WEAC submitted a memo to the Senate committee, urging its support of the bill. “Research shows that teacher planning makes a significant difference in student learning,” the memo stated. “When teachers meet to share instructional strategies that work in their classrooms and together design standards-based unit plans and assessments, this time is an effective use of taxpayer dollars, making a difference for children.
“Despite the value of teacher preparation time, it is becoming more
difficult for teachers to find time during the school day to prepare lesson plans and perform other duties important to effective teaching,” the memo continued. “This is
especially true for elementary school teachers who are generally limited to preparation time during art, music and physical education. With school districts forced to lay off employees under the pressure of revenue caps, teacher time is stretched tight as teachers serve in multiple capacities to meet the educational needs of children.”
According to the WEAC memo, 60% to 70% of teacher contracts in the state currently address preparation time in some manner. This means:
Many districts recognize the importance of preparation time, thus reinforcing the idea that it should be a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.
UPDATE: On September 11, 2007, the Senate Committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs voted in favor of Senate Bill 243 on a 3-2 party-line vote, with all of the Democrats voting in favor.
Watch the testimony on Senate Bill 243 (starting 4:51:14 min.)
http://www.weac.org/news_and_publications/At_the_Capitol/archives/2007-2008/preptime.aspx Page 1 of 2
Committee Urged To Support Prep Time For Teachers | 2007-2008 | At th...pitol | News & Publications | Wisconsin Education Association Council 5/16/10 3:32 PM
60% to 70% of districts have staff that are vulnerable to losing preparation time as long as it remains a permissive subject of bargaining.
Making teacher preparation time a mandatory subject of collective bargaining will give teachers an opportunity to be part of the decision-making concerning a key strategy to boost student achievement and enrich the learning experience, WEAC’s memo read.
“The bottom line is that we teachers should have the right to bargain this important issue with our local school authorities,” Peterson stressed.
July 2007 OnWEAC coverage June 2007 OnWEAC coverage
Posted August 29, 2007
http://www.weac.org/news_and_publications/At_the_Capitol/archives/2007-2008/preptime.aspx Page 2 of 2