Some of the most frustrating daily jobs undertaken by teachers, in terms of wasting time, include: entering data in more than one place, the repetition of admin tasks (Any form of paperwork that has no direct impact on improving teaching students’ learning), or the recording (writing) of verbal feedback given.
One way of helping teachers to become more efficient would be to stop moving the goalposts! Share key dates at the very beginning of the school year. By all means, remind staff. But don’t add in extra admin/data drops randomly throughout the year. Also, learn to be ruthless with your email inbox and delete lots to make things much more manageable.
Getting the balance right, as a teacher, can feel like a challenge, however dealing with non-teaching time can be flexible in when and how to manage such time. For example, trading off time in non-contact to working in the evening as one’s mind is not in it. It’s knowing how to read your mood. Spreading non-contact time throughout the week can be much better, giving you chance to catch breath several times a week and if managed well, allows efficiency. Learn to use your non-contact time according to your needs.
Top admin time-saving tips
- Spend time to make sure you understand the data you work with – pays dividends in the end rather than sitting trying to figuring stuff out. Same for software, programs etc. if you can automate a process or think somebody might be able to help you – do it.
- If you honestly think it’s a waste of time, leave it. If its that important people will always ask again. It’s amazing what people ask for then never check up on which proves it was pointless to start with🤫
- You know the things that don’t need to be done, that no one is going to ask for and that will have no impact. Don’t do them, spend your time on core business.
- Plan, plan and plan again. Know what you are working with. I just did CPD on midyis and INCAS. Only now after 10 years! A secondary school teacher should be having this to aid with data analysis! If you know what you are looking at it saves time.
- Collaboration with team members. Share the pain.
- Try and reduce the need for printing/photocopying, keeping everything as digital as possible.
- Make the most of your TA in primary – if you are lucky enough to have one – and give them plenty of notice about what needs doing so that they can plan it into the week/term.
- Train children up to do jobs. Sharing resources with others – don’t recreate the wheel!
- Plan on paper (in a notebook you can keep for next year) rather than PPT, where PPT isn’t really necessary.
Top teaching time-saving tips
- Try and mark as much as you can in the lesson so students get instant feedback and can act on it and time spent marking books after school is significantly reduced.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel! Before you spend hours doing something check to see if it’s already been done.
- Adapt existing resources as much as you can – share those within your faculty, school and externally so that others can benefit. Our faculty has a rudimentary(or often fully realised) lesson, resourced and ready for every topic we cover. Saves me so much time.
- Get children to mark/ self-assess their own maths, especially with fluency work. If they’ve issues they can find you instantly to sort it.
- Stick a grid like this on your desk, computer or planner. Decide which quadrant the tasks you have are in.
- In writing get the children to self/peer assess using a checklist and underline the features in different colours so you can spot easily what they’ve got when marking.
- Think about the work you are setting carefully…can it be self-marked by them or even better done via technology such as Google forms to save you marking then transferring marks etc. Get them to do most of the work rather than everything being you!
- Top time-saving teacher tip- design/create learning environments WITH your pupils as an art project-added bonus of pupils having a sense of ownership and pride in their classrooms.
- Pre-empt mistakes. I put all capital letters in a different colour in my presentations to make them stand out to students. They’ve stopped making mistakes with capital letters which has saved me about 30mins per class set every fortnight when marking.
- Set homework tasks that involve little/no marking. Setting revision and then having an in-class quiz that students can mark themselves can save a lot of time.
Top time-saving tips for working in groups or within departments
- Collaboration – don’t repeat tasks and work to your strengths – good teamwork utilises them well.
- Keep to the point – don’t digress, even if it is tempting to have a moan!
- We’ve started working on Google Docs. Collab documents are so much easier when you’re working in real time and not waiting for them to e-mailed back and forth.
- Ask for PPA time to be set so that you can plan together if possible and split tasks between you.
- Divide responsibility for SOWs between teachers so each teacher designs lessons and resources for one year group and shares. Individuals free to adapt of course!
Helping pupils be more efficient with their time to improve learning is an integral role for the teacher, and giving them clear outcomes and timings to work to within a lesson is crucial. Provide a resourced environment. Train them to find & use the resources they require as and when. Use feedback, not marking. Make them understand the process. A lot of my first DIRT lessons are explaining what it is and why. Also, let them know it’s OK to fail at first. If they don’t learn to fail might not be efficient learners. Give fairly tight timescales for tasks and in groups give roles to each member of the group including timekeeper. Be strict about what stationary they can bring to school – no one needs two pencil cases full of smelly pens and no writing pencils!
If working with older students, consider sharing the copy of the scheme of learning so they are aware of what’s happening when (approx). Give them mock & assessments dates in advance. Homework is on Google Classroom with reminders. No surprises so no excuses!
A7: I’ve been using whole class feedback as a PPT in conjunction with green box marking. Students then see which aspect matches their work and they revise only their mistake/errors during the 10 min DIRT. I then remark that section with a different colour! #ukedchat pic.twitter.com/0Clbn9iOER
— Gemma Campbell 👩🏫 (@gemlcampbell) October 11, 2018
To conclude, schools need a strong and confident SLT who protect staff time by refusing to impose unnecessary admin duties on staff and not allowing unreasonable access to parents when they demand it – either in person or electronically. Help provide time for important things. Sometimes you might have to insist that a particular time slot is for important things. Teachers, being humans, will often focus on urgent, unimportant things.