Work Smart – Stay Sane

21 Jun

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This week we are still in the middle of reports and various projects that occur in the second term of a school year.   The best advice I was once given was not to take it home with you, where possible. Trying to live by this advice has been hard but it has kept me, my family and friends sane.

Once I could not believe that I could still be an effective teacher and not take home any papers to mark, lesson plans to write or parents to call. How can teachers not take any work home?   That’s part of the unwritten portions of a teacher’s contract – to be willing to work long hours for which you are hardly ever reimbursed.  The advice, not to take work home, was radical but I was determined to see if it would work.   I decided I was no longer going to take my work home.

After some thought and having put the advice into practice, I thought I would share some of my hints and practices with you.   I hope they will be of some use.

1.I pace my marking/report writing.

I decided that I had to take control of the amount of marking and work smarter.   So I devised a plan that would let me handle the amount of work, I had to mark without losing my mind.   Once a term I have a lengthy writing assignment to mark. To better help me mark those essays, I mark the students as they go along in the assignment.   I call it conferencing.  It serves as a kind of double whammy, if you like, as I then have evidence of a student’s progress  . When the final drafts are due I usually have around 100 papers to mark within a 1-2 week period. So I take the amount of papers to mark and divide it by the days in the week (100 papers divided by 10 school days) and the sum is the amount of papers I need to mark on a daily basis to meet my goal.

2. Planning.

Everyone gets a planning period, but unfortunately we, as teachers, are usually called to do other things.   Knowing this, twice a week I close my office door and request not to be disturbed (within reason).   It’s amazing what I can get done.

3. Emails.

I only check my email three times a day. 7:00am, 10:00am and 4:30pm. You would be amazed what a time waster this otherwise can be.

The following helped me with email.

http://michaelhyatt.com/yes-you-can-stay-on-top-of-email.html

4. I use extra work time at school.

On those late nights e.g. socials, talent nights etc. I use the in between time to catch up on work.

5. I lesson plan during the summer.

During the summer, I carve out 1-2 hours a day to work on unit plans.  By the time summer is over, I have plenty of units that I will use during the school year.   Of course, things change and I have to modify, but I find when I can begin the school year with units already complete, it makes things easier during the year. All my work eLearning material is then set and saves time later. I use this time to work on Learning Plans.

I hope these tips help you as they sure have helped me work smarter and more efficiently and stay sane.

 

Professional Reading:

This a great piece for reflection for your next staff meeting.

Fullan

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