Naimish Gohil, former assistant headteacher and Chairman, CEO and Founder of Show My Homework, illustrates how changing work routines and using technology can save time and stress while maintaining or even improving quality of teaching and learning…
As a senior leader, you should have staff happiness at the top of your priority list at all times, but even more so now. Almost every day we are reminded just how hard teachers are working, how high their stress levels and workloads are, and just how many people are leaving the profession.
It’s no secret we are facing a teaching crisis. We need to make sure we retain our teachers to ensure schools can continue to deliver first-class education to students and raise standards.
The bugbear: lesson planning and marking
Overworking your teachers, or allowing them to overwork themselves, is a recipe for disaster. Despite teaching being their vocation, this is more than likely to lead them to resenting the job, particularly for the endless hours they spend lesson planning and marking. Not only this, but it’s counterproductive: it’s no secret that when you’re pushing yourself too far and working when you’re not at your best, the task at hand takes longer than it should and tends to be less well executed.
Of course, as a manager and a leader you want your staff to be happy, but it’s not always easy to know how to do it. One of the most effective ways to ensure this is to lead by example: if you have a good work/life balance, people are likely to follow your lead. Simply telling your staff you support a healthy work/life balance is not enough.
By a healthy work/life balance, we aren’t suggesting that you encourage staff to leave tasks unfinished so that they fall behind; this would have a negative impact on themselves as well as the school. But you can give them access to suggested guidelines on how they organise themselves – these can make a huge difference.
For example, suggest that one day a week they finish working at 4.30; the other nights, have a cutoff point for working late; and try and implement a ‘no work on weekends’ policy. Of course, there will always be exceptions to these guidelines, but having them there and trying to follow them yourself will help your staff to switch off. Ultimately, helping them to work in this manner will mean they come into work feeling refreshed and ready to work.
Software to improve work/life balance
There is also software available to make it easier for both you and your team to have a better work/life balance. Innovations in edtech have meant that processes such as marking, setting homework, seating plans and tracking grades can be streamlined, instantly cutting time spent on such tasks so teachers can focus their time and energy where it matters most – in the classroom and with their family.
We at Show My Homework understand just how hard teaching as a profession can be, and how topics such as homework can add to everyone’s workload. That is why it’s one of our key missions to save teachers and senior leaders time, which will also make the lives of teachers, students and parents easier.
We do this by providing schools with the tools they need to reduce the time they spend on homework and admin while ensuring they raise or maintain the standard of teaching and learning. Senior leaders and teachers can cut the time they spend tracking homework quality and quantity with the aid of our automated and scheduled reports, and the ‘Insights’ feature gives a breakdown of how individual students are interacting with homework.
Reuse to save time
The ability to reuse previous homework tasks means that teachers can save time when it comes to setting homework. And with auto-graded quizzes and spelling tests, teachers can enjoy having less work to mark and know that students are enjoying instant results and a variety of homework types.
Features such as these help to streamline long-winded processes and ultimately give time back to teachers so they can enjoy a healthy work/life balance. It isn’t just our software that works at saving teachers time: the edtech market has really taken this on board, and in the past years we have seen the creation of some really valuable pieces of technology to help ensure teachers aren’t overworked.
As pressures rise and workloads increase, schools should take advantage of what is on offer to them to help make work as enjoyable as possible for their staff, and ensure teachers are happy both at work and home.
This week is Children’s Mental Health Week 2017, find out more here.