Five bitesize tips to tackle teacher workload

Workload is a major concern in the retention and recruitment of quality school staff. There just doesn’t seem to be enough good quality staff to fill the advertised vacancies and workload challenges don't seem to be getting any easier. With this is mind, here are some simple bitesized chunks that will help to tackle personal workloads.

1. Impact

Time is precious so make sure all classroom tasks have a clear purpose. Avoid the repetition of the same information being completed in varying formats for different audiences and think of efficient ways to streamline tasks. Utilise technology to manage information better.

2. Clarification

Make sure you understand the requirements of a task. Time is precious and it is important that valuable time is spent going in the ‘right direction’. When interacting with leaders, don’t assume and don’t be ‘scared’ to ask for clarification. To ask can be seen as a quality rather than a sign of weakness.

3. Achievable Deadlines

Make sure you negotiate sensible deadlines and stick to them. Each task is important, but often tasks are interlinked and someone else will be relying on you to complete a particular task. Missing a deadline can lead to a 'ripple effect' of increased pressure and workload across an organisation.

4. Prioritise

You only have one pair of hands. Even though many portray themselves as being super human and think they can multitask, it is better for them to concentrate on one task at a time. Categorise tasks as high, medium or low priority – even colour coding accordingly. For instance:

HIGH Must be completed.
MEDIUM Undertake in the future, so put it somewhere safe (filed).
LOW Not important - consider if the task is even necessary.
INTERESTING Something to be saved for another time.

 

Staff should be encouraged to discuss their workload, in a constructive manner, and have the confidence to push back! A good leadership team should be fully aware of current pressures. Remember, leaders are also not super human and; therefore, successful leaders act as role models in modelling behaviours.

5. Declutter

Only keep the essentials! Sort paperwork, materials and resources; tidy as you go. Create filing systems for paperwork/emails. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a clear out! Avoid using extra paper by printing and instead, read it on a computer screen and save the file. This helps to keep classrooms and offices tidy! Use non-paper-based solutions.

Conclusions

Both leaders and staff are continually under pressure to meet expectations, but this pressure needs to be managed. We hope that our tips offer common sense advice for managing workloads effectively. The school year has many pressure points and a consistent/organised approach ensures that tasks are not rushed or forgotten. By following this guidance, workload and well-being will be a consistent focus and better outcomes will be achieved.

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