What is your takeaway?
Managing your Workload
As the academic year draws to a close, with year 11 no longer darkening our doors, you might expect the workload to reduce a little. Not always the case.
All too often departments use gained time to produce and review schemes of work and consider new ideas ready for the new term and often subconsciously end up increasing your workload.
For me, this includes reviewing an A level specification ready for first teaching in September as well as beginning a new role that means extra responsibilities for developing a smooth transition for marking without levels, as well as continuing to plan engaging and exciting lessons and, keeping on top of the marking and feedback for my students, chasing latecomers to lessons, pastoral duties and detentions….the list is endless.
So how do I manage my time and get all this done?
As is my way, my door is always open. There are several reasons for this ranging from being nosy, to my room being so ridiculously hot that I need some sort of air circulation to prevent me from passing out.
The hardest thing for me has been to shut my door. The first time this happened I had people disturbing me asking if I was ok, such was the unusual nature of this. After much reassurance to my colleagues that I was fine, I just need some down time to complete a job, it wasn’t long before they would fend people off from knocking my door.
Once in my darkened corner, the next thing was to get a set of headphones. Sometimes I play music through them, other times I just use them as mufflers so that I can’t hear anything. Again it didn’t take long for people to realise that the door is shut and she has the headphones on, so enter at your peril….
So having got myself a good working environment I get all my tasks together and start to prioritise.
I am a list and post it person, Green for things that can wait, Amber for things that need to be done but not straight away, and Pink (haven’t yet found a red post it) for stuff that needs doing immediately. This does not include my marking….
Marking is done on a 2 weekly rotation per class. That said, I will check books weekly and provide next steps on a fortnightly basis. As the year progresses with extra assessments and coursework this gets difficult at times, but the coursework and assessments get put in the green, amber or pink piles.
Either get to school early and work in the morning, or leave later in the evening. That way you can get everything done without taking it home. No one ever died by not having their book marked, but tiredness is not conducive to good health.
It’s really important to eat lunch and get a drink at break time. Move away from your computer or work and take a break. I have been known to walk around the car park, just for a breath of fresh air. It helps to refocus and refresh you too.
Remember you are not alone, you’d be surprised at who your early morning/later evening buddies might be. A great way of networking and someone else to check up on you!
It’s also to remember that it’s ok for you to ask for help. There is nothing wrong in saying I’m struggling or I can’t get this done right now. The chances are you are not alone and the person you speak to is feeling exactly the same.
Enjoy your commute to and from work. I am fortunate enough to have a 40 minute drive, so I get in the car, rack up the volume and leave my work on the motorway somewhere, having rationalised it all out and made plans for the next day.
If you are a little closer, use the walk, the bus trip, the cycle home to reflect on your day, don’t dwell on it. Tomorrow is another day and you will have a new perspective in the morning.
My final tip would be to book a night away every half term…. You can spend quality time with loved ones and forget about work. Failing that, make sure you have some ‘special time ‘ with them. We all need to feel wanted and loved, not only in work, but at home too.
For me I have a book and post it notes. Some of my colleagues use reminders and apps on tablets and devices, some a jotter and highlighters. There is nothing more satisfying than crossing things off or removing post-it notes.
Outcomes and Evaluation
So, having been doing this for the last year, it would be a lie to say that it was easy and that I am the most settled and organised person in the department. You only have to look at my desk to realise that. However, I am much more rested and take much less work home. I can’t say that I never take work home, but I can say that I am able to plan and order my workload much better so that it is kept to a minimum. I am able to say no to people when I think I can’t manage an extra task and now I don’t feel bad about it.
I am a work in progress, but am feeling that I will be ready for the new year in September and I won’t have to take work home with me in the holidays. I just have to remember to stock up on Post it notes.
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