Thursday, 29 October 2015

Crowd Sourced: Advice on Coping with the Workload

On Facebook I recently asked my teacher friends this question:

What are your strategies for coping with the workload?

I particularly asked for teachers who enjoy teaching how they dealt with the expectations put on them. Here are a few choice answers:

"Making sure I stop when I've had enough and give myself time to eat with colleagues or have a chat with someone. If I'm at home working I do the same, I'm far less productive when I'm fed up with it than when I still feel positive. I don't work weekends at all unless absolutely necessary and then it's Sunday evening. I think part of tackling it is realising that it'll never all be done and if you feel like it is, the goalposts will move again tomorrow."

"I never get everything done! I set out my limit I will work each week - two evenings and Sunday afternoon and in school 8-5 then I think to myself 'if it's not done it's not done - don't worry you've done enough work!'In desperate times I have also paid siblings to mark tests which are a case of just ticking and I can then just analyse the data."

"I refuse to do things I don't deem necessary, regardless of what the head might think!"

"I had certain days and times that I had for working; I always stayed very late on a Friday because (weirdly) it suited me! I generally had one day each weekend that was work free. I was honest and asked for help - like after I went back from maternity leave I asked someone to share in running choir because realistically I couldn't do that hour every week if I was going to keep up. Also delegating a bit. The thing I think that helps most is keeping in mind that there's always more to do (so you will always have a long to do list) but having these as 'must do soon' and 'to do...' (I got better at this with experience).

"Don't take work home."

"I have one night a week when I catch up on school work at home and I now stay late on Friday to get everything sorted for the following week then I try not to work at the weekend if at all possible. I've started working through lunch too. I think planning your week so you don't have a load of marking from the same day helps. Also just give in to the fact that you'll never get to the end of the 'to do' list!

"I do as much as I can at work. I arrive as early as I can and stay late. I'm much more focused when I'm at school. Make good use of playtime/assembly/lunchtimes. Obviously I do work at home but only what I can't get done in school."

"I work until a set time each evening (it's not very late!) and I don't work weekends. Managing your time well is paramount I think. I work in a small school and wear lots of different hats, so have to prioritise time and tasks. It is possible. Also, prayer and don't compare yourself to others. We're all different and work in different ways.

"Just 'chill out'! My job is not the most important thing. Especially not more important than faith, health and sanity!"


To qualify, most of these answers came from teachers who have been in the profession for ten years or fewer and they have varying family commitments. The overall message I think is this: find what suits you and what fits in with the life side of the work/life balance. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to managing your time but in these snippets of advice it seems clear that teachers who enjoy their job also recognise that there is a never-ending pile of work to be done and that you just can't spend all of your time doing it.

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