10 Top Tips for Becoming an Organised Teacher
Part 2 of 3
We saw in the previous post of this mini-series that having and working a system, is a key tool in becoming a more organised teacher. But that’s not enough; in the hectic life of a teacher, demands on your time are ever present, so you need to develop a few skills in managing how to defend your precious time. So here goes…
5. Learn not to volunteer for things. No I’m not talking about abandoning your colleagues and holing up in some clamshell just so you can stay on top of things. What I mean is, don’t volunteer for things that you don’t have the time for. Think about this: if you commit to projects or tasks that will make your time management even worse, then things will only get worse; a lot worse. You will let people down, do an inferior job, snap at people, kill your social life and probably increase your stress levels beyond the dangerous zone. Beginner teachers are the very worst culprits here. In an honest effort to prove they are worthy of their position, they zealously over commit. Most learn the hard way.
6. Learn to say no. So this is related to number five but harder to do! We often auto- respond with a ‘yes’ when asked for a commitment when we should be saying ‘no’ a lot more. Part of the problem, is not having a system – a map- where we can see all our projects and actions laid out before us. If we had a system, then we would know when to say yes and when to say no. The trouble is, few of us have. Some teachers rely on their Teacher Diary and perhaps flicking through it they see that Thursday doesn’t seem to be so demanding. But how many of those Teachers have a visual reminder of the marking they haven’t done, the planning they have still to do for next month, the prac-student who is turning up next week.
Thursday might look like a good day and prompt you to say yes to a request for your time, but that might just be because your system isn’t waving any red flags at you. Saying no, might mean taking a deep breath and just saying the words but sometimes you just have to do it or you will be letting yourself and others down. There are time-honoured ways of saying ‘no’ that won’t offend which I tend to share with you in a later post. But in the meantime, say it more often.
7. Delegate work. There is some overlap in this point and those above, but it should be obvious that you can’t do everything on your own. Share tasks that your colleagues are also responsible for. If two of you are teaching the same unit of work this year, why not agree to plan a semester each? However most importantly, don’t do other people’s work: this can often happen to high performing teachers who despairingly take on under-performing colleagues’ work, just because their work is poor or because it is late (or both). It is a deadly trap to fall into, so don’t go there. Instead take a step back and let that other person meet their responsibilities and accept the consequences, good or bad.