I’m writing this blog post because I’ve received lots of messages from teachers wondering about how much time they should be spending on school work in the evenings or night time. I’ve also seen lots of comments from teachers who are spending all their evenings and weekends on work for school.
I try to get all my school work done in school. I arrive before 8am most mornings and stay in school until about 4pm Monday to Thursday. Sometimes I take copies home or make a worksheet/powerpoint presentation but I try to not make this a habit.
September is a tricky month – things take longer to do because you haven’t been doing them all summer. Children need a lot of ‘spoon feeding’ and there isn’t a huge amount of time to get little jobs done during the school day. I’m really finding September tricky this year and have been playing catch up since day 1 but hopefully everything will be set up soon!
Culture of the school
I’ve taught in some schools where no teacher would be left in the building after 3pm and others where you were asked why you left before 6pm. This can be incredibly difficult for new teachers who feel they need to arrive super early and stay late to make a good impression and hopefully get a job the following year. Try to find a happy medium. Maybe stay late 1 day a week but leave at a reasonable time the other days. Once you get the work done – who cares where you do it and if that is the deciding factor on whether you get a job the following year or not then that is certainly not a place you want to work in!
I’ve written about this in a previous blog post – ‘Feeling Overwhelmed’ but I firmly believe in Parkinsons Law. You’ll find lots of time management tips there.
Ask for help;
- Are there school plans available that you can adapt to suit your class?
- Is a colleague brilliant at displays? Could he/she help you for 30 mins after school?
- Can you do the worksheets/powerpoints for one subject and your colleague could do them for another and you could share?
Cut off point
What is a reasonable amount of time to spend on ‘school work’ every day? I would say maximum 2 hours. If you don’t get everything you need to get done in that time then leave it until the following day.
Do you really need that worksheet? Does all that material need to be laminated? Could you get that online instead of making your own? Do you really need to change that display every fortnight?
Increase childrens independence
The children do not need a worksheet for every lesson. They do not need an expertly designed powerpoint/presentation for every subject.
For SESE subjects they learn much more through project work, reading books and finding key information themselves.
For Maths when children have finished the work given – get them to make up their own questions or make up questions for their partners – they love this! (Have a set of cards/dice they can use to create these questions) Get the children to correct their own work or their friends work. Can they use a calculator? Or do whole class corrections for 5 minutes at the end – you can then quickly run through the questions that the children found tricky.
Do corrections as you walk around the room – this way you can have mini conferences with the children and give them detailed feedback.
I think its important to remember to take time for yourself – try to be as organised as possible but don’t spend every evening and night preparing and planning. It is impossible to keep up that level of work and you’ll only end up getting sick.