It’s over a decade since I left teaching on early retirement – I was burnt out. I was tired of arriving at work before 7.30am, tired of working at least an hour in school after pupils had left and then a further three hours at home, tired of working all day Sunday and through most of the ‘holidays’.
Was I particularly bad at organising my time? No. It was because teaching isn’t just being in front of the class – although that’s the most important aspect. Because being an effective teacher requires:
1Planning schemes of work and individual lessons;
2Preparing teaching material;
3Matching curricula to exam syllabuses (these changed so rapidly they needed to be redone every couple of years – no time for evaluation, just chuck what you’ve already planned into the bin);
4Marking work, adding comments, and using assessment to plan future lessons;
5Meeting other teachers: formally (staff meetings) and informally (over coffee in staff rooms – but these essential spaces are viewed as superfluous in some new academies);
6Continued professional development;
8Meeting parents (not just at Parents’ Evening but when particular children are causing concern).
Added to these are pastoral responsibilities (investigating bullying, keeping an eye on vulnerable children; mentoring those needing support), practical problems (ensuring sufficient materials are in place at the right time; booking equipment so you’ve got the TV and recorder to show Year 10 the next instalment of Macbeth; letting the technician – if you’ve got one – know the computer’s not working) and personal necessities (balancing the need to keep pupils behind to discuss missing homework with a desperate desire to get to the loo).
And now it’s got worse. At least my marking was done in a book for my reference only. Now I hear of teachers having to input marks into spreadsheets, link these to Levels, and check something called RaiseOnline. And I was under no pressure to get my Set 4 pupils up to GCSE Grade C. Neither did I have to cope with changes of employer when my school became an academy (it’s now changed to another academy chain which would have meant three different employers in the last four years: local authority, Chain One and Chain Two).
It was with some relief, then, that Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, in a speech heavy with soundbites
and dodgy stats
, announced she would take steps (as yet undefined) to reduce teacher workload.
Is Morgan’s promise just a vague pledge made in the last Conference before an election? Or is she really serious? If she is, then she’ll need some suggestions about how best to reduce teacher workload and teacher burn-out. I’m out-of-touch with teaching today so if there are any teachers, governors and parents (no-one wants their children taught by exhausted teachers) with practical suggestions, then please comment.
The grammatical howler in the last paragraph (...if they're any...) has been corrected. No excuses - sloppy proof reading.
11.17am I forgot some things in the list above: extra curricular activities during lunchtime and after school, including weekends and during holidays.