I'm very familiar with a very tight schedule. I previously taught in a Dual Language school and our schedule and routines were planned out to every minute. I had to make sure that the kids and I were cleaned up and ready when it was time to switch to the next class. Super tight but totally do-able! I now teach in a school that services the Gifted and Talented students in my district. Our days are super busy and it's so important for me to stay on top of our schedule.
One thing that has become my best friend in a very tight schedule is to have a countdown timer up and running during activities. I have an activboard and I use their timer ALL THE TIME. It's a great visual for the kids and it helps me avoid the "how many more minutes till we clean up?" or "how many minutes do we have left?" questions.
After I introduce the activity and give the directions, I immediately tell the kids how long we have and I set the timer in front of them. I even add a fun sound so that when our time is up, they know. Today I used an elephant and they got a big kick out of it.
Don't have an activboard? No worries ... did you know that Google has a timer?
Just search for the amount of time that you need to count down and the timer starts automatically. WAIT...WHAT?!?! I know! Such a huge time saver and the best part is that the timer is super loud when it goes off! Great to get your class' attention. I used this today while we were in the computer lab and my students started cleaning up when there was less than a minute left. I didn't even have to ask them. It was perfect!
I hope that my quick tip helps you cram in all that you do in your busy schedule. You guys rock!
How do you stay on schedule? I would love to hear about it in the comments.