Tag: time-saving

How to reduce your workload: advice from twitter

Twitter@teachingcharlie has posed a series of questions to his twitter followers. One of which caught my eye when he asked the question; “if you could offer a piece of advice on how to reduce your workload, what would it be?”

What followed was some fantastic advice from a range of tweachers which showcased how brilliant twitter teacher networks can be. Below is a summary of that advice collated into common themes. A huge thank you to everyone that continues to share, network and advise- without you twitter would be very different!

Evaluate and Prioritise

Lots of the advice focused on deciding what to spend your time on. @Rosieprimrose tweeted “look at things that are taking up most of your time- what is the impact on the pupils and their learning in whatever form it might take? If you are taking up time with jobs that don’t have any impact then change them or ditch them! (That includes laminating displays).” @MsFordEnglish and @robin2reader stressed the importance of making decisions which are child focused and do tasks which are only going to make a difference. @Cherrylkid advised us to prioritise and re-prioritise regularly as often the agenda changes and @ChrsinteCouser encouraged teachers to check that the priorities are in line with the department and schools. There was also a stress on realising that teaching is a profession where you have to “understand that you will never get everything done. Forgive yourself in advance for not doing it all” (@inarcadiaego)

Routines and lifestyle

For many establishing effective routines and time management seems to be the key to balancing teacher workload. Top tips included:

  • Start every day by taking a few minutes to write a list (@FloraBarton).
  • Chunk up tasks (@flynnjon).
  • Set a time limit on tasks (@e_greenacre, @CarlaGotcha81, & @080Belle).
  • Set a time to go home (@Mr_R_Ferdy).
  • Don’t link your work emails to your phone. Even if you don’t act on them they are a constant reminder (@jw_teach).
  • Set up email folders to file emails, and if possive use inboc “rules” to help (@Skippity_doo, @mrsartytextiles).
  • Follow #teacher5aday (@FloraBarton).
  • Keep energy up through exercise and focus on YOUR health (@pickleholic and @bridportshakesp).

Say no

One of the major themes of advice from @zygote23, @Bigkid4, @KristianStill, @MrLeMasurier, @Dukeyjk, and @MrsSingleton referred to getting the confidence to say “no”.  When asked to do something you don’t want to (or don’t have to) do, either politely explain why you are unable to do it. It is a very hard skill to master (and I think even harder for us teachers!) @Bigkid4 suggests trying to master saying no without actually saying the word ‘no’. Instead use phrases like “I’ll try to find time for that” or “I might get round to it”.

Marking and feedback. 

Not surprisingly lots of the advice focused on marking and feedback. Top tips included:

  • Mark during lessons. For example during a written task move round room with highlighter & identify problem e.g. homophones. Then teach skill from the front (@carole_XLIX, @FranNantongwe).
  • Mark soecific key tasks and have a clear focus as to why you are marking it (@Beanylass).
  • Establish effective self and peer marking (@pickleholic).
  • Focus on feedback rather than marking (@ EnserMark). for more info see his blog https://teachreal.wordpress.com/2016/12/06/feedback-beyond-marking/
  • Use checklists- get students to “find me an example of….” to help proof read work (@_sarahmc_).
  • If you’re lucky to have 1-1 tech devices then Go Formative is great for immediate feedback (@sarahb292).
  • Use verbal feedback (@simonpatchett1, @sarahb292).
 Other top tips. 
Other great ideas included:
  •  I would suggest using my motto “teach like no one is watching” – A lot of workload is created when we work for a perceived audience (@EnserMark).
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel- sharing is caring- ask others if they have resources and share when others ask you and have strong department SOLs whether they are done by individuals, through joint planning, or are bought in, they make everything manageable (@booksrokmyworld, @laalpotts, and @bookskidsshould).
  • Buy a visualiser or tablet (@Davowills & @ICTevangelist).
  • Ditch PowerPoints (@iQuirky_Teacher).
  • Make sure staff meetings are necessary & useful. If not don’t bother- give staff time for lesson preparation instead (@SarahMurphy41).
  • -Sometimes you have to do loads of work- embrace it! We should love our jobs as teachers and not constantly look for shortcuts to do less (@MrWalkerKPPS).

How to use peer assessment effectively (and reduce marking)

peer assessmentPeer assessment can often be an add on to a lesson, and can often result in poor feedback to students such as “write neater” or “check spelling”. To improve this students (like teachers) need to know what to look for when giving peer assessment comments.

One way to do this is to give students a criteria to look for. The criteria should be quite simplistic in the first cases, in language that is easy to understand and it should be easy for students to identify whether their peer has or has not done this. Below is an example from a piece of work where students were writing a piece on life in the Arctic and the criteria that should be looked at when peer marking.

self assessment 2

The list is very specific and easily identifiable in peers work. Students then identify something the student has done from the list (the WWW) and something the student has not included (the EBI). To try and reduce the issue of a student “freestyling” and writing an EBI which was not on the criteria, if a student received their book back without a comment specifically from the criteria they had to give it back to the marker (there will always be that one student who “freestyles” especially in the early days of this routine.

The students then acted on their EBI by writing a short paragraph which described the missing aspect. This saved me a job, time and students demonstrated progress in their work.

self assessment