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Are you feeling overwhelmed with your teaching workload? Are you struggling to find time for yourself outside of schoolwork? Are you thinking about reducing teacher workload?
If so, then you need to read this blog post! In it, we will discuss seven questions that every teacher needs to ask themselves in order to improve their working and personal lives. These questions will help you to reduce your workload, without feeling guilty, and prioritise your time over school work. As a wee bonus, we will also look at the one question you need to ask yourself to give you more money for the things you love.
So what are you waiting for? Start reading!
I'd like to start by acknowledging that the job will NEVER be done! There will always be something more that you could do, something that could be tweaked a little or something that could be changed totally. It's the nature of teaching and you need to get used to that.
Let's get started by looking at workload. So many people are struggling with teaching workload just now, but here is the first important question.
1 What are you doing about it?
Are you just wading your way through the mire, doing what you have always done? Trying to spin all the plates - keeping your head above water as you juggle a teaching career with household responsibilities.
Do you let off steam on social media, complain about it to colleagues, and try to cut back on your workload, but nothing seems to work?
This might seem harsh, but it's an important starting point.
A happier life awaits you, but you need to do something different and the following questions should become your first thoughts with regard to workload.
2 Could someone else do this?
Do you have any extra tasks that take away from your teaching duties? Could you delegate those responsibilities to someone else?
I'm guilty of thinking that I am the best person to do everything, but I'm not! Often I used to do admin tasks myself because it was "just as quick to do it myself!" It's not! We should not be doing basic admin tasks. A quick email with specific instructions to admin staff is quicker than doing it yourself. It may not be done in the exact way that you would do it, but here is the next question......
3 Is it adequate? Will it "do the job?"
Generally, the answer is yes. It can be really difficult for those of us who are perfectionists, (I see you there!) to let go and allow others to do tasks. However, as a recovering perfectionist, it is so freeing to be able to get stuff done more quickly and to allow me to focus on the things that I am good at.
This brings me to question 4.
4 Is this in my Zone of Genius?
What do I mean by that? Well, there are certain things that we are amazing at! They feel easy, quick to do, and enjoyable. These are the things that are in our Zone of Genius.
If it's not in our Zone of Genius then we tend to find these things more difficult, they take longer, are more frustrating and we don't enjoy doing them.
eg: I find creative things really difficult - creating a worksheet-type thing could take me all day because I just don't have an eye for design. Give me a spreadsheet-type task and I could have that set up in minutes!
With teaching though, the workload is so huge and so varied that it can be difficult to stay in our Zone of Genius. However, as a school, we have a massive pool of talent and perhaps tasks that you find difficult is within someone else's Zone of Genius.
Why not have a discussion with your colleagues about Zones of Genius? Then list the things that each of you is amazing at and share the workload around. It's collaborative working on steroids!
The next 2 questions are vital in helping you to reduce your workload and you really need to get them written into your planner!
5 Will it help the children?
If the answer is yes, do it. If not, don't.
There are so many things that we could do, that we could add, that would make the lesson better for children, but there are also things that we do that don't make any difference to the children.
Let's take a PowerPoint. What is important? Is it the content or the way it looks? Do you spend more time creating the content for it or messing about with the layout to ensure that it is just right?
For me, I create the content really quickly, but I could spend hours messing about with the layout, trying to get everything to line up and get it all "just right".
Will it help the children? No, it won't make a button of difference to them.
What is important is that the content is good and that I am enthusiastic and engaged! If I've been up half the night perfecting resources then I'm not in the best frame of mind for it!
Keep this question at the forefront of your mind and start accepting that perfection is not important, progress is.
6 Will I get the sack if I don't do it?
This might seem a little harsh, but with teaching workload being as it is, I really think we need to prioritise and this is one way of doing so!
If you are struggling for time and the task won't help the children and won't get you the sack if you don't do it, then don't do it.
Asking yourself these questions should help you to cut down on your workload and leave more time in your life for living.
This brings me to my next question.
7. Do you have enough money for fun?
The cost of living crisis and our pay being eroded by inflation over the years has led to many teachers struggling for money. Whilst we fight for a decent pay rise, can you give yourself a pay rise in just 15 minutes?
In that time, I can show you how to quickly identify money leaks, work out what the biggest issue is and show you how to divert money to the things that really matter to you.
There you have it, seven questions that can help you improve your working and personal life, without feeling guilty about taking time away from teaching workloads. Good luck!
I hope this blog post has been helpful! Please remember that these are just suggestions for improving your workload; ultimately every teacher will have different needs and priorities which need to be respected and taken into account when developing an individual strategy for success.
If you've enjoyed this post, then why not share it with your teaching colleagues?
Best of luck in finding the balance between work and play - it's out there somewhere! :)
Hi, I’m Eileen Adamson, teacher, money coach, host of Your Money Sorted Teachers' Podcast and ex co-host of BBC podcast Clever About Cash. I help female teachers to become happier, healthier and wealthier.