Look After No.1

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Jack Gulston

Jack writes for the Teacher Toolkit site from a primary perspective and is in his third year of teaching. He worked as a teaching assistant in a special needs school for 3 years before going on to complete his education degree. He is currently teaching...
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Who ‘looks after us’ as teachers?

I’ve been blogging for Teacher’s Toolkit for about a year now and am aiming to blog around every fortnight. My blogs follow similar themes, but I think it’s because they are the most important themes I encounter. I know that I have been teaching for a short time compared to most of the people that read these blogs, but I think it’s important to have fresh faces and voices to air their thoughts on things we feel very strongly about. For example, I often think about who ‘looks after us’ as teachers.

Oh My God!

A lot of teachers have things to worry about when they get home, such as families, partners, parents and a million other things too, but recently I overheard a comment from a member of staff that I found horrifying! Her words were this:

‘I find myself getting up at 3AM some mornings to make sure I get all my work done.’

My mouth hit the floor! I couldn’t believe it. 3AM? Why?

I just had to ask.

Her reply:

“Well, there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done, so I need to get up early to get it done. I haven’t even marked Friday’s work!”

Does my colleague have anyone looking out for her? Is anyone telling her to think of herself? Of course not! So, I’ve taken it upon myself now to make an effort with this colleague; not offering to do things with her and help the burden, but to help her see that there are more things to life than pink and green pens.

Schools will continue to ‘push and push’ until we break and someone will always fill the space when we are gone, but schools won’t stop pushing. With this in mind, I sat down with her and told her things that I find help me achieve a better work-life balance. The aim was to understand if she could try out one of the things I suggested.

Work-Life Balance

On days that I know I have a meeting after school (mainly on a Wednesday for me) I try to make my lessons more pragmatic. I take photos of the end product, add a ‘coloured feedback comments’ online, and the next day the children add the information into their books and act on the feedback comments from there.

Another thing I do, is indicate whether children have achieved the learning objectives, printed out with a range of different feedback comments. I attach the appropriate comment that matches with the work. There we go, another set of books marked in half of the time!

I know that these might sound like terrible ideas to some, and I appreciate that readers (or my colleague for that matter) may not enjoy them, but if it gives you back 25 minutes in the staff room at lunch time, then why not?

I must admit, I can be very selfish when it comes to looking after myself. I make sure I have my 45 minute lunch break. If my work isn’t completed by 5:30 then it will have to wait till the next day. The only time I ever do work at home, is when I need to recycle lesson plans and notebooks from the previous year, changing parts where needed. What’s the point in re-inventing the wheel?

If you don’t look after yourself, who will?

Take shortcuts. Who are you impressing by getting up at 3am? The children? Think again. Be selfish and think about yourself, because no-one else will.

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