How to work in the holidays

Option 1: Don’t

Option 2: After doing three poorly attended two hour holiday revision sessions, completely re-write the whole of y7 8 and 9 schemes of work for next term, including the latest pedagogical nuggets and tips you have picked up from twitter, blogs and that excellent just-published book by the Professor of intricate and unnecessary classroom practice. Then edit and adapt in detail the perfectly decent scheme of work for y10 your colleague wrote last summer. Enthusiastically email them your suggestions and tweaks, receiving no reply – ever. Blog the feck out of all your efforts and tweet to death the link to your blog, hoping someone with 10 times more followers than you re-tweets it.

Option 3: Promise yourself to a) mark those 3 classes of books that somehow escaped your green pen for the whole of the last half term (or ‘term’ if you are under 26) b) get at least the bones of the first week’s lessons for the new GCSE planned and c) find out what you are teaching for the morning’s lessons up to your free on Monday which is either period 3 or 4. Or maybe just the first half hour of the day – after all you can plan the rest of Monday’s lessons if they are busy for 20 minutes in lesson 1

No one needs help with option 1, I have no experience at all with option 2 so you’re on your own there. As for the final possibility, the best way is to bring your marking home and leave it in the boot of your car so you don’t see it until the day you tackle it. Then do it one day with the music turned up loud and reward yourself with chocolate, or whatever floats your boat, every 15 books or so. Leave the planning part until the day before. This will help you focus your mind and you will spend less time faffing about looking for a good picture for your opening powerpoint slide (unless you work at Michaela). Then put out your work clothes for Monday morning, find your shoes and classroom keys and finish for the day.

The Maths of Workload

Recent DfE report suggests teachers are working on average 54 hours a week. (see the TES article here)

There are 39 weeks in a school year

that is 2,106 hours

_______________

Let’s say the average worker does 48 weeks in a year at 37 hours

that is 1,776 hours

_______________

A difference of 230 hours

______________

230 hours is 6.2weeks of work for an ‘average worker’ doing their 37 hours a week

_______________

So an average teacher works a month and a half more each year than an ‘average worker’

_______________

Teachers also work in their holidays

_______________

If only this post wasn’t just being read by teachers

 

 

Pissed off by a poster

I know I should let it go, move on and worry about bigger things. But today this cheery poster got my goat.


First of all I will say that some bits I can go with:

  1. Pupils going out into the world to do wonderful things
  2. Imparting knowledge
  3. Listening without judgement (though this last one for me is an aim not an accomplishment)

But the rest are ridiculous and plain old exploitative . Look at these two

  • To be magnificent inspite of late nights and early mornings
  • To give meaningful feedback even if my pile of books seems endless

If these things are happening, then you need to be speaking to your line manager about workload or finding out if there is a shortcut you are uninformed about. Worse still, if you put up these statements in your class or staffroom, then you are normalising overwork and promoting the idea that teachers should put their job before the rest of their life.

I love teaching but that doesn’t mean people should take advantage of me and expect endless piles of books in my care to receive detailed written feedback nor should they demand I sacrifice my sleep for it. If you want me to “fulfil my side of the teaching and learning partnership” then give me conditions that help me do my job more effectively and more skillfully, don’t heap on the work and ask me to sign an allegiance saying I will complete all the work thrown at me no what impact it has on me, my partner, my family, my life or my health.

People who do or expect this are people who say teaching is a vocation not a job. And people who say such a thing are more likely than most to herd and harass teachers out of the profession.

This is an awful poster.

How I became good at my job….. 

Go on, indulge me for a minute, allow me to show off just briefly: I am a good teacher, I have been practicing it for nearly a quarter of a century so I should be by now. I am not good enough for the headteacher unannounced to make a beeline to my room with an important visitor, but I know what I am doing. So allow me to pass on something I think I’ve done rather well in my career….

When my own children were of primary school age, the finishing times of my own secondary school dovetailed beautifully with theirs so that I could pick them up three times a week. Admittedly on one of those days I had to ensure a) I parked right by the school exit and b) leave my last lesson of the day as the bell rang and overtake my pupils down the steps. But I there and on time for my own children when they finished their school day.  It the bit I liked best was the 10 minute walk home, asking them about their day, talking about whatever was in their minds that afternoon before they forgot it all. I f I hadn’t been present to ask I would never have known about their day and that of course made all the rush and planning worthwhile. Of course I still had the same amount of work to do and many afternoons I would really be just ignoring my own children as I marked books and they played or watched the telly, but I was making a statement to myself about where my priorities should be. I was refusing to let the job push further into my own life. I was drawing a line.

I was frequently restless for a new job in those years. My nose was in the TES website and newspaper every Friday. But I never moved either on or up. At sometime in each application process, maybe as late as the drive to the school for the interview, the thought of the extra commute and the wasted time I would be spending in the car made me realise I wouldn’t accept the job even if I was offered it. I would be giving up so much I could never claim back.  So I stayed put; working five minutes drive from my own front door and my children’s primary school gate beat all career temptations hands down.

Now most managers find this attitude both  a mystery and a disappointment. After all, they have climbed up the greasy pole, so they normally make the mistake of assuming that everyone should want to as well. If you choose not to chase promotion, you have to be patient with senior leaders who only slowly realise that you are not what they hoped you would be. Instead they will prefer to talk to, to swap ideas with, those teachers eager to implement a whole school strategy that will feather their own CV. Once they perceive you as just a teacher and not an aspiring leader you lose your lustre. The length of time you spend at a school isn’t seen often enough as a source of experience to be utilised. It’s as though you are seat blocking in the staff room like an elderly patient bed blocks in a ward.

But that’s easy to deal with. I don’t worry about that. I am a happier person, both in personal and my professional life. I know my children are getting a better father from the choices I have made and I my pupils are getting a better teacher. I don’t want anyone to think that any of this has been some sort of selfless sacrifice; that I have laid down my own ambition for my three children. Most definitely not. Everything – for me, my family, my children and my pupils has benefited. And as I said I am even good at my job.