Introducing them to new ideas and new skills is an enticing challenge. Thinking through a way of introducing a difficult concept and then leading learners through a well planned and resourced sequence of lessons is what I enjoy; it is why I am a teacher.
Unfortunately, during the last few weeks I confess, I have taken by eye off the teaching ball and I have been concentrating on admin. If I don’t complete admin tasks on time I will get it in the neck from someone, but if my lessons are a little below parr when I am not being observed, then no-one will notice – and that’s my core responsibility.
The main problem I have been dealing with is completing different tasks for different people – all in the same time frame. I am sure that some of you are already thinking that with a little better time management I could have spread these tasks out. Actually, if the documents that I have been working on are to be current and valid, I could not spread out the tasks; they all really did need doing in the same time span.
Teachers do not have one boss, as most people in other industries do. For some tasks I am responsible to my department, for other to my pastoral team, for others to the senior leadership team, and for others to outside agencies such as the local authority or exam boards. Nicky Morgan, the current Education Secretary, recently ran a workload survey in conjunction with the TES, which was certainly a step in the right direction. I am certain that one of the main drivers of teachers’ workload problems is that we all serve several bosses. If each of these bosses demands a time limited task to be completed at the same time, the candle gets burned at both ends and the teacher in the middle gets burnt out. Each of the tasks will probably be very valuable but the different bosses do not liaise with each other and coordinate the work, and in some cases this would be impossible, but it is still the teacher who is left to square the circle of demands on his time.
It seems to me that despite schools’ best intentions – and my school really does prioritise teaching and learning – it is too easy for the teacher’s core activity to be superseded by admin that come from too many sources, which cannot be right.