Tag Archives: work-life

Let’s Talk about Workload by @Mroberts90Matt

The workload issue is not going anywhere, anytime soon. In a time where edu-Twitter is cycling with debates around all sorts of philosophies and facets of education, one thing rings throughout most of the profession – there is one elephant that looms largest and that is the unsustainable amount of workload in the teaching profession. Wellbeing is becoming increasingly higher on the agenda for the best leadership teams and it is a concern for even some outside of the profession. A number of parents have commented on how they are aware of how hard I and other teachers work for their children and they really appreciate it.

This issue has risen again in a recent report detailing how many young teachers are planning their way out of the profession. A recent survey from the NUT suggest that 45% of young, recently-qualified teachers plan to leave the profession in the next five years. I remember watching a report about a month ago on the same topic and the DfE’s response was to say they are working on recruiting more quality candidates into the profession. Whilst that is important, surely more focus needs to be put on making the profession more attractive? What is the point in recruiting more teachers if more then leave the other way?

There does not seem to be a clear-cut answer coming over the near horizon – but we have each other! Twitter, blogs, bottom-up CPD are providing a real way forward for teachers to look outside their school setting and recognise the strength around them. I am a much more positive practitioner because of the interactions. So, I want to take this brief opportunity to share some tips and ideas to beat the workload woes. I may not be the perfect teacher but I feel I do have some ideas on how teachers can take those small short-cuts that don’t impact on their teaching and learning (and sometimes enhance them). However, don’t just listen to me – dozens of other excellent professionals have spoken out against this workload crisis. I am very grateful for their contributions and I hope to include as many as possible. Hopefully this will help someone out there free some time for themselves. Please share this valuable list!

Before I even embark on this list – one very important point to remember is that whilst there are a number of tasks for teachers to do and it is a high-demand profession, workload is in our control mainly. Often we are the ones who place too much on ourselves. @bekblayton and @thatboycanteach put it very well when they reminded us all that we must remember that overcoming workload woes is not a pipe dream – it is possible. We need to adjust bad time management and prioritisation habits to help us do it!

1. Learn to Magpie and do it effectively
This was my first thought – massive amounts of time can be lost with teachers getting that resource exactly  perfect, with a nice border and then laminating that piece for the display. Just get the content challenging and correct, get it copied then done! Move on!
@Mrs_D_H – accept that good enough is good enough
@blondebonce – also says to not laminate 😉
@mccaffery81 – Shared a great idea which a typical example of needing to magpie from other professionals – phonicstracker.com – look into it, use it!

2. Find your Marking Mojo
@MisterMahon – Self and peer assess – it identifies misconceptions just as effectively, if not more so
@kvnmcl – Do NOT take marking home
@MrCartwright26 – Get some marking done in the lesson whilst supporting children
@primary_newbie – also says to mark in class – making use of self and peer assessment
@Wolvespps – Uses a marking code when marking. Assigns a number for each target in writing then has children write them – I do exactly the same for comments in all subjects

@hbudders – Agrees once again with marking in the lesson and give instant feedback, along with @emmaholts
@kat_luc01 – Warns against marking criteria not involved in the focus of the lesson. Extra areas of focus in marking can eat into precious time
@redgierob – Don’t be conned into marking every piece of work!

3. Plan for Pupils, not Procedure
@JoHale3 – plan daily, you should not have to plan the whole week if you do not know how they will do!
@HeyMissPrice – do not plan every lesson, do what is necessary
@RobertsNiomi – reduce weekly planning to a sheet of A4

4. Learn to do the jobs that need doing…and little else
@thomasandrews88 – do what needs to be done for tomorrow, then stop
@dave_foley_1990 – do the stuff you are asked to do, don’t do more than you need to
@bekblayton – set a finish time and when you reach it STOP!
@MrWalkerKPPS – look into instant displays – washing lines, working walls are as effective

5. Go with your gut!
@NorthDevonTeach – self-reflect but do not do so too much, will increase workload
@MrsR451 – Ask the question – will this help learning? If not then don’t do it – if it is required then do it minimally!

6. Plan Time Carefully
@challis_luce8 – Get work done on Friday so you have Monday prepared already
@mrsmacwilson – Plan at least one day a week to go home earlier with no marking
@mr_k3ys – Work smarter (not harder) – set time limit and challenge self to stick to it
@Mr_Beetroot – Used a work logging app (he suggested WorkLog) for 2 weeks, analysed what he lost a lot of time doing, then cut that down.

Special mention from @HeyMissPrice! After having read these suggestions, you will notice that many of them require understanding and acceptance from a caring SLT. If an SLT insist on convoluted systems of marking, require lesson plans handed in often and certain jobs doing that are really not required (particularly being stated that “it’s for Ofsted) then @HeyMissPrice says be brave and ask why those things are necessarily done that way if it’s impact on teaching and learning is minimal.

Please do take a look at the great suggestions – as you see, they all seem to fall under 6 categories. These are the areas that teachers can lose a lot of time accomplishing tasks but that they can have control over how much time these jobs take. The suggestions above are key – share them and add any of your own to help alleviate the stress and workload on fellow teachers.

Advertisements

I’m Back! by @Mroberts90Matt

Well, according to my NQT goals I was going to post weekly on here – that’s not happened. I have had good reason though; on the 21st October my wife and I had our second child – our first daughter! I have only returned to school this Monday and been settling back into the swing of things.

I just wanted to post this short one to get myself back into the routine and recommit to posting on a weekly basis. I will hope to recommence the Teacher Voice Weekly Poll too.

Tomorrow is my Parents Evening (was away for the school one) so that should give me plenty of blog fodder 😉

NQT Resolutions by @Mroberts90Matt

So, as I come to the end of my 3rd week as a ‘real’ teacher, I finally got some time to read some blog posts which I haven’t done for a while. I saw this post by another NQT which sets out some resolutions for their NQT year. I thought this idea was excellent and so, decided to join in and create my own. The reason being that in reading their resolutions, I felt the desire to meet those resolutions too as they are really good. So my reasons are twofold – one, foot my own record and target setting and two, if any other NQT comes across this them hopefully it’ll inspire them to do some too!
image
1. Keep my home-work life balanced
I am convinced that if I do this all year then all things will eventually fall into place. My wife and son have been great supports and inspirations to me during my Initial Teacher Training years and they will be so for years to come. We are expecting our second child mid-October so, whilst it certainly won’t get easier, this goal will be vital for my performance at work to be at its best and my health 😉

2. Keep on top of marking
With all the things I will need to get done as an NQT, the one that has been a bug bear with me in the past is marking children’s books. In my view it is one of the things that, if not done right, can be the biggest waste of a teacher’s time. So, of course, to do it right requires a bit more care, effort and (you guessed it) time! Fortunately I’ve found, and been authorised to use, a method which was brought to my attention in a series of excellent summer blog posts by @LearningSpy who referenced it to Joe Kirby’s blog (sharing good practice or what)! Basically on Friday I marked a set of 30 Maths books in 20 mins – and I have a feeling that it will have a greater impact on them than a couple of short, quickly put down comments from me ever would. Take a look!

3. Don’t get TOO involved
For my specialism at University I took Computing. It was actually a choice that I was forced into, but I am so glad I did! I probably would not be blogging/tweeting as a teacher if I did not! However, at my school it is common knowledge that no one knows about Computing…sure, great for my future prospects but not this year please! I’ve already been assured by my Head that I will not be asked to take an further responsibilities (this year), but there is an RQT who has taken the responsibility. She has already asked if I would want to work with her on a Computing Club she’s started. A few months ago I might have said yes. However, after sage advice and experience of full time teaching, I declined. I may well take the offer up MUCH later in the year but as an NQT, I know I need to focus on getting things as right as I can in my classroom before committing to wider responsibilities.

4. Keep up my blog, professional and class
I’ve not been doing so well on this one, but only 2 and a bit weeks since my last post isn’t too bad, right? I am aiming to post once a week still on my blog and (hopefully) keep up my Teacher Voice Weekly Polls but I’ll see how that goes. If you get the chance take a look and vote, I’d really appreciate it.

5. Have Fun!
I am in this for the long haul. I do not want to become a burnt out, fatigued teacher but a vibrant, inspirational educator. It will not be easy, I know. Just because I have got through my first few weeks as an NQT unscathed and, honestly, feeling confident does not mean it will be all smooth sailing. I have my first lesson observation on Thursday…feeling a bit nervous! However, as I remember to enjoy the career, hopefully I’ll be able to accomplish this resolution!

There will probably be more thoughts as I plod along, however, if I can keep these things going in my NQT Year, I’ll be satisfied. Anything more, such in sure there will be, it’s going to be a great year!
image
photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography via photopin cc

photo credit: Homes and Dreams via photopin cc