Workloads can be a concern for many people considering teaching. Trainee English teacher Abbie from Manchester Academy gave us the lowdown on how her workload has evolved over the past year, and her top tips for managing it:
Before I started my training year, I had already developed my skills in organisation and time-management (having studied a part-time degree whilst working full-time) and so I wasn't necessarily worried about the workload. I also asked various friends and colleagues who had gone into teaching about the 'typical' workload expectations, which helped to me to mentally prepare myself for the upcoming year.
For the first few weeks, however, I was quite overwhelmed with the initial workload in terms of the planning, documentation and the PGCE assignments. Once I knew my classes better, I became more confident in the planning and delivery of my lessons and began to build up my own bank of resources. Also, my department continually shared good practice/plans/resources and so this helped to alleviate some of the planning. By the end of the first term, I had settled into the school and felt much more on top of things. I had developed my own routine which I found much more manageable than at the start of the year. This matched my initial expectations in that I knew the first term would be very challenging, but the following term did feel a lot easier and I was able to work more efficiently.
Now that I’m coming to the end of my training year, I feel that the workload has grown due to my timetabled hours increasing; however, the management of it is much less strenuous. I feel more confident and secure in my ability to complete work to a good standard. I am coping really well because everything seems so much more natural, like second nature. As your experience increases, so does your knowledge and skills, and so you are able to manage your work better.
My top tips for managing your workload are:
- Always write a to-do list – this will seem never-ending at first, but it really helps to get it out of your head and onto paper, so you are not trying to remember too many things at once.
- Be organised and plan ahead – otherwise things can build up.
- Manage your time in a way that prioritises tasks – there will always be something 'extra' you can do, but make sure the main tasks are complete before you think about those things.
- Don't hesitate to use the resources/plans/lessons from your department – you are not expected to create every lesson from scratch!
- Seek support if you feel you are struggling – it's crucial that you speak up so that those around you are aware and can help.
You certainly cannot be workshy if you want to pursue a career in teaching! However, the work you do, albeit a lot initially, will always feel worthwhile and purposeful. The first term will be challenging but as you grow in confidence, building relationships with the students and staff whilst developing a good routine, it becomes so much easier. You will look back and feel really proud at how far you have come. Finally, at my first subject studies day, the United Learning Director of English gave us a piece of advice; he said, “As a teacher there will always be something else you need to do, whether that be marking, evaluating, or calling a parent. You must look after yourself and so long as the prioritised tasks are complete, you must draw the line at some point.” Take any opportunity to rest and recuperate and have some fun!