Recently I lead a session with NQTs and RQTs on the subject of wellbeing. It’s a topic I find fundamentally important as I’ve suffered from burnout before and it’s not a feeling I’d like anybody to experience if I can help it. Also, leaders in every school I’ve ever worked in have never openly expressed concern for the physical, spiritual, emotional and mental wellbeing of their staff. This is plain wrong!
With teachers leaving the profession in droves, schools must do far more to challenge the issue of workload. Teachers in the group said they regularly worked more than 50 hours, which included taking work home.
The most common things the group perceived as threats to their wellbeing were:
2. Lesson planning
3. Data entry
How to cut excessive workloads
By no means a panacea for the issue but here are a few strategies to cut workloads.
1. Decide what is worth marking. Greater effort does not equal greater results. Try to use feedback strategies such as ‘take a snap!’. This is where you place a picture of a student’s work on the board and peer assess as a whole class. The piece of work should be of the highest quality so all have a ‘gold’ standard to aim for.
2. Don’t try to plan every lesson from scratch. Scour online for resources which you can tweak or use as they are. Make us of high quality textbooks also.
3. Ask yourself ‘do students really need their exercise books this lesson?’ Perhaps annotating a copy of the poem or using sketch books is enough. This will reduce marking time.
4. Use symbols and codes for marking. It’s surprising how much time you can save not having to write out the same targets numerous times.
We rounded off the session by conducting individual SWOT analyses on our personal wellbeing.
Feedback from staff participants has been positive with one staff member almost giving me a running commentary on how he has taken charge of his own wellbeing since the session.