It all started when I was asked by the head teacher how much time I had spent on a particular task.
The question was asked of everyone in the school, along with a breakdown of what eveyone had done. This took me hours. I did not want to be subjected to this request again without being prepared. I wanted to say within a few minutes “I’ve spent x amount of time on this task and these are the outcomes”, great if I had the time to create such a report on the fly. As all teachers know teaching is a balancing act between priorities, as well as satisfying those unexpected requests when you are already busy, which can cause undue stress.
I wanted to show off my performance. It seems as though unless you write the tasks down, detailing in folders and department notes what you have done, you have gaps where it looks like you have not done anything outside of teaching time when the truth is the exact opposite.
Video demonstration of using ‘Time recording’ on my phone
I decided to use Time Recording to log everything, this saved my bacon on a few occasions. The question “why haven’t you completed such and such” led to my answer “because I was also given A, B and C to do which took me x hours last night, so I couldn’t do it”.
This may sound like shirking, but it’s not. By having a logging app I was able to support my own interpretation of my worth.
It gave me confidence and reduced my stress levels as I was able to assertively say what was and was not possible within a set amount of time. It is unreasonable to expect more than what is feasible, but as we all know ‘the extra mile’ is part of the job. Work load management is an undeniable stress factor for teachers. I would definitely recommend this app to anyone wanting to work more efficiently, suffering stress at work due to overloading, or if time management is questioned. I was able to confidently say where my time was going. With this app I was able to justify extending deadlines by using data explaining how long a typical task would take and therefore my reason for requesting an extension.
It became second nature to press a button on my phone to simply log tasks as I was doing them. The logging acted as a diary and became more and more useful. I was working evenings, weekends and many days in the holidays, yet like most teachers, I was still not finishing everything I had set out to. I was blaming myself. I heard “Time management” a few times, then after 6 months of logging I realised what was taking up my precious time. Time I could have spent on teaching and improving student progress. Time on making every lesson an outstanding one, time to do everything that benefits students rather than support paper trails.
38% of my time outside of teaching students in class was spent replying to emails and producing reports.
As an educator you appreciate how data indicates many things such as how students are performing. You understand that this data is important for yourself to intervene and support students that need the help. On the other hand, I did think to myself “wouldn’t students benefit more from great lessons, a not so tired teacher and more detailed assessment”.
This pie chart represents all non teaching time; 4 hours preparation time a week, time before and after school, evenings, weekends and holidays (In total 60 + hours a week including teaching time). This pie chart represents all my “free time”. Therefore what could be scrapped from this pie chart of extra teaching tasks. Like most teachers I found that email had become a paper trail for many members of staff so they could say “I’ve done my bit. Phew! Someone else’s problem now” and with so much work you can understand why this is necessary for many.
I propose a complete overhaul. Email whether you like it or not is taking you away from educating.
Paperwork / reporting data is taking you away from educating. We need a balance. I recommend we do away with email. There are alternatives such as talking to someone face to face, picking up the phone, instant messaging and others such as evernote’s chat client. Sharing information is great but a morning meeting where knowledge is shared would be better. If it is really urgent, a person (messenger) could come round and inform you or the students about something that is relevant to you and your class, rather than the alternative email that is sent to “whole school”. Something has to change. On regular occasions I was receiving 100+ emails in a day. Then you would have someone say to you in-between lessons “have you received my email, what do you think?”.
I’m not saying that data, reporting, answering queries by email and filling out pupil reports is not important. What I am saying is that the frequency and amount of these tasks has to be balanced by what teacher tasks provide the most effective learning and progress. Priorities need to be reassessed. There needs to be either more funding for admin staff to collate data and report, or teachers need to be asked for admin less often. Alternatively OFSTED, parents and governors should be told what is possible with current funding and teacher time.
Something has to change. As technology gets more advanced it is bringing it’s own problems, not allowing teachers to switch off.
Fragmented and duplicated data technology which hinders rather than supports. I know that all schools will not be streamlined any time soon as this would require funding for better technology and training for staff. But most importantly people need to be aware of their own time limitations. How do you think this time management could be addressed?