We know teaching is a tedious job. Have you ever heard the phrase, “A teacher’s work is never done?” Well that phrase pretty much says it all. Teaching is a challenging profession, and with it comes the need to balance daily tasks, goals, and not to mention an overwhelming amount of paperwork. No wonder, we need holidays every 6 weeks.
The one thing that teachers complain about the most is lack of time to do all they need to do. So, I will talk about time management and discuss stress and workload management in the process. I read somewhere that, time management is really about, the little things you do, and the big things you want. If the little things you do match up with the big things you want, then you will be one happy, productive teacher.
Being productive means that you get things done at the right time in the most effective way. It requires that you understand yourself, your mindset, your routines, your work environment etc.
What is your typical school day like? What gets you stressed? How do you know that you are achieving your best possible in a day? How do you know that you are being the best you can be? Are you working in a stressful environment? Are you suffering from stress?
Here are some ideas
1. Regarding your time; prioritise! What do you want to achieve in a day? Prioritise them! I know Nigerians struggle to say ‘no’. What then happens is that you take on so much, you don’t do it all effectively, then you become stressed! Use a calendar to set your priorities. I once worked in a school where we were given a diary at the beginning of every academic year. If you don’t have a diary, get one and write things down. Now I know that lifestyles differ. Personally, I struggle to use a physical diary, so I use my phone. Everything goes into it, including reminders, alarms, notes, ideas etc. Hint: please back these up! Google offers free cloud backup. Some people have a ‘to do list’. That is brilliant! What is important is that you know what works for you. But you must prioritise to avoid overwhelming yourself. Some of us spend so much time on social media, it is unbelievable. Social media are tools to be used by you to enhance your communication and pedagogy. Please do not let social media take so much of your time. For example, do you really need to be on FB for so long? I don’t think so. These are little ways that we can help ourselves.
2. Plan ahead! Planning is every teacher’s bread and butter. Create long term plans and medium terms plans. During the holidays, set out a day or two to do all your planning. While you are doing that, have your diary handy and include key dates, key information, resources you need to get etc. You may not be able to do all your weekly plans at once, but at least your medium-term plans help you know where you are going over the next 6 weeks. If you asked me now about my next topics for the next few terms, I know all of them! So I have a very clear idea where I am taking the children in my class.
3. During school time, organise your marking in piles. I know class sizes are small in Nigeria, so marking is not tedious. Lol! What I tend to do is mark in groups of 6. At the moment, I have 27 children, so the pile of 27 books can seem like a huge mountain. But once I have them in piles especially of similar abilities, it is easier to whizz through. Having said that, it is important that every school has a very clear and simplified marking policy!
4. When you are at home, BE at home. I know I am so guilty of this, because I always take work home! But be disciplined. If you have to work at home, let there be a limit. Prioritise what you need to do!
5. Talk and share. This is one effective way to relive stress, especially if you work in a stressful environment. Find a trusted friend or colleague that you can share with or better still, a mentor that will be objective with you. Our culture encourages us to bottle it up, but we need to change that. A problem shared is one half solved. I am a firm believer in mentoring because I know it works. Education is one profession where we need a lot of mentors! So help us dear God!