Saturday, 31 January 2015

Time management

I used to spend most of my weekends preparing and planning.

Many teachers do this.

To quote Tom Jones, "It's not unusual".

My New Year's Resolution for 2015 is not to do any school work at the weekend.

A month in and  I'm still sticking to it.

Am I lazy?


Is there a huge pile of planning and marking waiting for me on Monday morning?


Am I a terrible teacher?


Just kidding.


Every teacher knows that it is impossible to do the job properly if you're only prepared to work from 9 until 3:30 each school day but so far I've made a concerted effort to get all of my work done during the week so that I can relax at the weekend.

So, what have I been doing?

  • Working most nights until after 10pm is the honest answer but I've been doing other things, too.

  • I've been trying to be positive. 
Surrounding yourself with real life, or virtual, "Moaning Minnies" won't make you a positive person. Seek out the company of positive people or listen to the radio.

  • I've been working through my lunch breaks. 
I'm not suggesting that everyone does this. I'm merely putting forward the point that 45 minutes is usually more than enough time to eat, enjoy a coffee and mark a set of vocab tests, or enter assessment data, or do some planning or photocopying.

  • I've been getting the students to peer and self assess more. Under my watchful eye, of course.
  • I've been using marking stickers...
These were produced in house and each department uses them.

They say: "Since I last marked your work on _________________ you have made little/some/good/excellent progress with_____________________. To improve you must now____________________________.

The students then respond to the feedback, write what they are going to do improve and give examples.

  • I've been using highlighters to identify all the good things in the students' work. (See my post on effective feedback)  

  • I've been planning ahead.
I don't just plan my lessons, I plan my marking, too. I look at the calendar so I can plan my lessons and my marking weeks in advance. It amazes me when colleagues are surprised to find that it is assessment week or that there is a Parents' Evening that week (or even that day!)

  • I've not been setting writing homework at KS3
I'm not going to spend hours trying to work out what an internet translator was trying to say. I set grammar exercises, learning homework, reading comprehensions, etc. They are just as relevant and take a fraction of the time to mark, too. Written work is done in class where it can be planned and structured, not googled.

Obviously, I'm not saying that everyone should do this and I know for a fact that there are teachers who love spending their lives doing school work at home.

In the long term, if I'm honest with myself, I know that I'm just kidding myself and that at some point I will have to do some school work at the weekend.

But this is going to be the exception, not the rule.

And if I ever do find myself in a situation where I have six sets of books to mark which are all due in the next day, then that's the day I shall give up my job and start looking for my life...

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