As every educator finds out in their own time, teaching can be exhausting. A teacher’s to-do list is rarely complete, and after a long day of running around juggling a thousand competing demands, you’ll then realise there’s little time left for the things you promised yourself you’d get done
With so many competing pulls on teachers’ time, the high levels of stress experienced in the profession are perhaps unsurprising. If this reflects your own state, there is no shame in seeking help: Education Support’s helpline is open 24/7 for educators who need someone to talk to. But prevention is better than cure, which is why we’ve included some tips on how you can reduce and manage their teacher workout before you even get close to burnout.
Create a strict schedule
It is so easy to get carried away typing up lesson plans, reports, putting up displays (oh, the many hats that teachers wear) that time can slip away, until, before you know it, it’s 6:30pm and you haven’t scraped the surface of what you wanted to do.
To combat this, try creating a strict schedule for your tasks and commit to it. Even if something is not perfect, move on once the block for that task has passed. You may find you are more productive when there is a routine for your work.
This goes for your home time too; set a strict time you will leave each day and work on sticking to it. Setting boundaries should not create limitation, it should create a healthy routine for your work life.
Get organised with your tasks
Technology never stops developing, so use it in your favour to manage your workload! There are apps available such as Microsoft To Do that will allow you to better manage your tasks.
If you are someone that is easily distracted, there are some brilliant apps out there that can help teachers stay productive. If you’ve identified areas of improvement in your organisational skills, technology
Collaborate where you can
When it comes to managing your workload, two brains are better than one. Where possible, try collaborating with a colleague to reduce your workload.
For instance, is there another form teacher in your year group you can split the planning with? Do other teachers have resources you could share? Use the people around you as much as you need; teachers are naturally very sociable people and are often more than happy to help another teacher out. After all, everyone’s in the same boat.
(Note: this one may only be viable if your marking policy allows it). All teachers dread that pile of marking that’s set to drain a considerable amount of their precious time. To reduce this pressure, you could try some peer-to-peer marking or assessment. If you believe your students are able to do it, having them mark their own or each other’s work could really reduce your marking workload.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
Teachers are naturally creative people who want to do the best for their pupils, but this doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel for everything you teach. Wherever you can, use lesson plans and resources already available online, adapting them to your liking, if needed.
Nail your behaviour management
Behaviour management is one of a teacher’s most important jobs, but it can be one of the hardest to get right and keep consistent. Although it is not one of the most obvious time sinks, disruptive behaviour can increase the workload of a teacher by creating the need for detentions. Drawing up behaviour plans and contacting parents can also cost precious time and energy.
If you can nail your behaviour management and prevent (most) of the challenging behaviour that you currently have to deal with, you can free up your time.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
We are all human and everyone has breaking points. When it gets too much don’t be afraid to let the people around you know how you are feeling. School communities are some of the most supportive. Schools have a duty to support their teachers as well as their pupils. Seeking support from your school is necessary and encouraged if you are really struggling with your workload.
Remember your ‘why’
After an exhausting day teaching, when you feel like you have not stopped to breathe and you still have things to do before you go home, it can be helpful to take a breath and remember exactly why you went into teaching. It takes an incredible person to become a teacher and everyone enters for different reasons. When the workload becomes intense, remember your personal ‘why’.
Amidst the many hacks for managing your workload as a teacher is a common thread: you’ve got to find a way to ‘work smarter, not harder’. Don’t think that putting less work in means you are less of a teacher. Taking steps to properly manage your workload will leave you less stressed, more productive and, ultimately, happier in the classroom. Remember: your pupils will benefit almost as much too!
Our education specialists are always available to turn to for advice on all aspects of your life as an educator. Whether you’re looking for guidance, a sympathetic ear or new employment opportunities, they’re waiting to hear from you. All you have to do is get in touch.